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Texas Parent Teacher Association Spring 2015

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Rally Day!

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Spring 2015 • Vol. 106, No. 1 408 West 11th Austin, TX 78701 txpta.org • thevoice@txpta.org

Features in this issue 6 8 15 18 24 25 27 28 29 408X408 Donor Campaign New Texas PTA State Office

Our Community. Our Future.

Darren Grissom Associate Executive Director dgrissom@txpta.org Rolando Sepulveda Creative Design Specialist rsepulveda@txpta.org Brianna Vela Digital Media Specialist bvela@txpta.org Texas PTA Board of Directors Leslie Boggs President Lisa Holbrook President-Elect Catherine Carlin, Vice President Field Service; Chris Zimmer, Vice President Leadership; Elizabeth Campbell, J.D., Vice President Membership; Heather Ashwell-Hair, Vice President Programs & Resources; Sheri Doss, Secretary; Beth Crymes, Treasurer Directors-at-Large Pierr Castillo, Frances Fass, Lee Guerra, Fred Henley, J.D., Dr. Sylvia Reyna, Neil Shelby, Dr. Greg Smith

Rally Day 2015

The Voice, the official publication of the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers, is published four times a year — fall, winter, spring and summer. Call 1-800-TALK-PTA or visit us on the web for more information.

Quick and easy recipes for breakfast

Disclaimer: Articles and advertisements in The Voice do not necessarily represent the viewpoints or policies of Texas PTA. Texas PTA does not endorse non-PTA products or services mentioned in this publication.

Frugal Spring activities

Reprint permission: Unless otherwise noted, PTAs may reproduce and distribute the materials from The Voice without express written permission. Texas PTA materials may not be duplicated by any other organization or person without written permission from the editor.

Reflections 2014-2015 Winners Seven tips for handling FAFSA

Choosing PTA, “All PTA” Districts

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Kyle Ward, CAE Executive Director kward@txpta.org

The Voice

Texas Parent Teacher Association


Take action, back the future! Your presence at the Texas State Capitol on February 25 spoke volumes about PTA members’ dedication to back the future of our children. By traveling to Austin and representing our students, you showed lawmakers how much you care about the well-being and health of children across the state. Your meetings with legislators and their staff following our Rally Day events also had a tremendous impact on spreading the word about our legislative priorities. As part of our efforts to share your voice, we’ve launched a new addition to our website, txpta.org/takeaction. By visiting this site, you can have direct contact with Texas lawmakers, share stories about your advocacy efforts and support Texas PTA initiatives such as restricting access to e-cigarettes and improving juvenile justice. By visiting txpta.org/takeaction, you can also keep track of bills that are active this legislative session. We are half a million members strong in Texas PTA, but with student enrollment exceeding 5 million, our advocacy efforts are far from over. As PTA members, let’s continue being the voices for every child in Texas public schools! Together, we all make up the commYOUnity - our members, our local businesses and our untapped audiences. I purpose a challenge for YOU. Find five people and encourage them to join PTA. Talk to them about backing the future of our Texas children. Highlight what PTA stands for and how they can be involved with families, teachers, students and others across the state. I’ve always said that my goal is to have a voice for every child – a member for every student. If each PTA member in Texas reaches out to just five new people, we can take a significant step towards that goal. Adding hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of Texans to our collective voice can and will make an impact on the quality of education that our children receive. Our mission of making every child’s potential a reality is a high calling, but they are not just words on a page or website. To ensure the future success and prosperity of our own communities, we must come together to support and encourage the next generation of leaders. Take the challenge and seek out five new members to help us back the future! Leslie Boggs Texas PTA President Texas Parent Teacher Association

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PT[A] Is Your School District on the All A’s Honor Roll? Texas PTA has been around since 1909. We have a list of advocacy, program and institutional successes a mile long. Over and over I hear confusion about the difference between PTA and other unaffiliated parent groups. Because of our brand recognition and longevity, many think all parent groups are part of the PTA banner. One school superintendent told me he had PTAs, and in reality, he had none. Just like we often refer to all soft drinks as “Coke,” the same holds true that the name “PTA” has become too generic. As I always say, the “A” makes the difference, but “All A’s” make it happen! So why should a school district make the conscious decision to be 100% PTA? It’s a good strategic decision, and for those districts that make that choice, the benefits are many.  First and foremost, PTA is organized well. School districts can establish a PTA Council which brings unity and strength for all campuses collectively. If a school district is rallying support for a school bond election, a council can choose to support the proposal, after considering all viewpoints, thus being another arm of communication to garner taxpayer support. Councils bring Local PTAs, campuses, principals and administration together for the benefit of achieving districtwide goals.  There is strength in numbers. A school district with all PTA campuses has a strong base of members/constituents which translates into a greater voice at The Capitol for getting important legislation passed, positively impacting public education. Superintendents and principals are generally advocating for the same legislative priorities as Texas PTA. All-PTA school districts uniting with administrators statewide and Texas PTA have a greater success lobbying for change.  Local PTAs raise funds, but our emphasis is student achievement and family engagement. Reflections, Ready.Set.Achieve! and student/educator scholarships are all member benefits which enhance the work of local school districts. PTA brings value to school districts and local campuses. In addition to raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support schools across the state, Texas PTA offers programs that are easily executed and replicated, strengthening our greatest assets – students, teachers and parents! School districts that opt for PTA at every campus make the decision for a reason. It works! Take the time to evaluate your family engagement efforts in your school district and explore why PTA is not just like every other parent group. The “A” makes the difference! All A’s puts your campus on the cutting edge. Kyle Ward, CAE Executive Director Texas Parent Teacher Association

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campaign is more than a donation. It’s an outward and visible statement that you believe in the power of family and that the work of PTA in our communities is valuable and meaningful. For a tax-deductible contribution of $408, the first 408 donors will be recognized and honored in a permanent display in our headquarters.

Texas PTA recognizes the support of those who back the future of all Texas children. Be one of the first 408 donors on our permanent donor wall! We’ve all seen the positive impact that active parents and families can have on student achievement. Our shared vision of making every child’s potential a reality is creating new opportunities in classrooms, caring mentors and strong family-school partnerships. It would be easy to rest on the accomplishments of our first 106 years of service to Texas families, but now is the time for us to rededicate and reinvest in our commitment for the future generations of young Texans.

From Galveston to El Paso, Brownsville to Amarillo and everywhere in between – the 408 x 408 campaign gives every parent, teacher, administrator, community member, business owner and PTA/PTSA the chance to back the future for tomorrow and beyond. Each time a visitor or dignitary walks through the doors of Texas PTA, they will know that you or who you recognize is a passionate advocate and steadfast voice for every child. 408 x 408 donors will also be publicly recognized in our annual report, local print media and on the Texas PTA website.

Texas PTA is leading the way with our new headquarters at 408 West 11th Street in downtown Austin. After nearly 75 years at 408, we returned January 2015 to begin a new century of family engagement, parent education and advocacy.

Supporting the programs and services of PTA should never be a burden, so we’ve provided the options of one, four or twelve installments to allow for easier participation.

You have the unique opportunity to help ensure our continued success through the 408 x 408 campaign. Your support of this

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Texas Parent Teacher Association

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Visit txpta.org/donate today to be one of the first 408 to help Texas PTA back the future for years to come!

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Jake Smith Lakeside High School PTSA Class of 2015

Ella Porter Elementary PTA

YOUR NAME HERE

Mark Sharon Lewis Woodland Middle School 1984-2015

Robert Meyer Hillside PTA President - 2015

Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union

Dedicate a tile on our display to someone you know deserves to be recognized. Want to congratulate a student who is graduating this year? How about a retiring teacher? Do you want to honor a PTA member who has been an exceptional volunteer? Why not dedicate a tile to your school district? When combined, all the individuals on these tiles physically display the great actions of our PTAs. Help ensure our student’s success through your contribution to 408 x 408.

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The most exciting part of this new building is the focus on volunteers...the building’s design and purpose reinforce the value we place on volunteers to make every child’s potential a reality.

- Kyle Ward, CAE, Executive Director

TEXAS PTA


Home is where the Texas PTA is The Texas PTA state office is back home at 408 West 11th Street with new ammenities for members and volunteers. Texas PTA has called 408 W. 11th St. home since 1938. In 2009, the decision was made to build a new location on the same foundation. Thirteen months after the ground breaking ceremony in 2013, we were thrilled to return home this past January. Nestled two blocks west of the Texas State Capitol, this spot remains prime location for us to advocate for our children. We are happy that the construction of this new building was made possible without the use of membership dues. We would like to thank everyone for their dedication and patience throughout our moving process. Texas PTA is working to continue the legacy that began in 1909. Our staff is dedicated to supplying you with all of the tools you will need for not only your PTA to succeed, but the students your PTA represents. We would like to also thank you hard working volunteers. Stay tuned for updates on our building dedication and volunteer open house being planned for Friday, May 29! “Texas PTA is excited to begin 2015 by moving into our new State Office. The most exciting part of this new building is the focus on volunteers. Now we will be able to train more than 100 volunteers at a time in the Volunteer Training Center located on the second floor. The building’s design and purpose reinforce the value we place on volunteers to make every child’s potential a reality,” says Kyle Ward, Executive Director of the Texas PTA.

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A balcony off of the boardroom displays the bricks from Recognition Square that honors many PTAs and volunteers.

With technology that allows users to wirelessly display presentations on a large screen, the Igo-Fleming boardroom contains everything needed for effficient board meetings.

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Igo-Fleming Boardroom In gratitude for the unwavering support by the Igo and Fleming Families: Past, Present and Future. Mrs. Shirley Igo Past President, Texas PTA & National PTA Mr. Kevin Fleming President, Square One Consultants

The front doors from the historic Texas PTA State Office built in 1937 are now the entrance to the new Igo-Fleming Boardroom.

The Texas PTA President’s office is adjacent to the boardroom, complete with historical memorabilia.

Texas Parent Teacher Association

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Texas PTA is proud to provide a designated space for volunteers in order to make our mission of empowering families and communities through child advocacy more seamless.

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With a state of the art audio visual system with multiple screens, integrated phone conferences, video playback and podcast recording, the space is designed to be a perfect environment before presenting AND archiving information.


Texas PTA Volunteer Training Center

With enough space to seat 120 people classroom style, this space will create a strong tie between the State Office and volunteers.

In the back of the training center is a kitchen/catering area with all the the equipment and space needed to host a training event with full hospitality.

Texas Parent Teacher Association

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apoya tu back the future


Our community. Our future.

by Allison Strupeck, Director of Member Services

W

hen Jessica Hiatt got home to Richardson after attending LAUNCH 2014 in Houston, one of her first stops was to the office at the Math Science Technology (MST) Magnet School. As the PTA president and mom to MST 5th grader Mason, Jessica was invigorated by the debut of back the future, Texas PTA’s new long-term brand. “Jessica came right to me, excited about what she’d heard at summer training,” said MST Principal Helena Lopez. “We were planning our back to school theme, and I told her that back the future fit right into what we wanted to do: connect, communicate, collaborate. I love that she came to me so we could work together on this.” The preliminary results of that collaboration have been impressive. MST PTA is now on a 5-year membership high, with 250 members currently which is double their membership total from last year. Parent and community engagement is also on the upswing at this increasingly diverse kindergarten-to-6th grade school, serving high populations of Muslims, Hispanics, and African Americans among others.

“We love that our campus has kids and families coming from many different places across the district, but we also have challenges,” Hiatt said. “We had already set the goal to create a stronger sense of community. So when we came to (LAUNCH) and heard the back the future message, ‘What’s missing in CommYOUnity? YOU!,’ we really thought it was the right message.” PTA membership in Richardson has grown nearly 25% this year under the leadership of Richardson Council President Marni Kaner, whom Hiatt credits as a highly visible cheerleader for Local PTA implementation of back the future. But MST PTA and the other Richardson PTAs are not alone. A growing number of PTAs throughout Texas are embracing the campaign and beginning to feel its amazing potential. In the Rio Grande Valley, the Harlingen School of Health Professions PTSA is experiencing similar momentum. The school opened its doors last summer and currently has just 210 students in 8th and 9th grades, but it will eventually expand up to 12th grade. In the PTA’s first few months, already membership is nearing 50% of the student enrollment. Community connections are the lifeblood of this school, which

Texas Parent Teacher Association

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back the future was a perfect message for us, because of how we are always communicating that we want to partner with our community and we really need our community. - Tammy Schmidt-Swope, PTA President

Principal Tina Garza said puts a high priority on creating opportunities for students to network with and learn from local professionals in the medical field. Her students can study everything from dental science to pharmacology. “Back the future was a perfect message for us, because of how we are always communicating that we want to partner with our community and we really need our community,” said PTA President Tammy Schmidt-Swope. “Whenever we’re trying to recruit new members to PTSA, our message is that are students are going to be the future leaders of the Harlingen community, and we need to support them now to help them achieve their goals. If we’re going to be a community that’s successful, we need you to join PTSA.” Response to back the future has been positive not only with traditional PTA members. Harlingen business owners such as George Merrill of Ice Ice Baby are happily joining the PTSA even though they don’t have children in school. And that sense of “community” is reaching well beyond academics, with PTSA student members volunteering for the local pumpkin patch, the city’s half-marathon, and The Women of the Rio Grande Valley initiative. “Students are seeing that being part of PTSA helps them help their community,” Schmidt-Swope said, “and also make those connections that are going to help them in their careers.” So, how are they doing it? How are PTAs throughout Texas getting out the word about back the future and taking this excellent opportunity to grow, diversify, and motivate their membership? For Live Oak Elementary PTA in Round Rock, it started with the Executive Board members

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wearing back the future T-shirts, and PTA President LeAnne Ohlenburger putting up the student silhouette yard-signs in her yard and around the school. “That got a lot of questions and conversations going,” she said. “I was able to explain what it means and where we’re going. Then I would ask them, ‘Will YOU back the future?’ That made it personal. It made people think, ‘I really need to do this. I need to back the future.’” In Harlingen, the Council held back the future events at all campuses at the start of school with community leaders, police officers, and businesses playing a huge role. Since then, PTSA has prominently displayed back the future posters, sticker decals, and T-shirts, and they use the back the future logo “every chance they get.” In Richardson, MST PTA incorporated the campaign logo into all printed and electronic communications, displayed English and Spanish versions of the campaign materials, and rebranded their spirit nights as “commYOUnity” nights. “The consistency of the brand is going to be key, going forward,” Hiatt said. “Prior to back the future, we had a different logo and theme every year. We really needed this consistency.”


What does back the future mean to you?

We focus so much on the academic side of student success. To me, back the future means bringing everyone in to support their emotional and social well being too. It’s about providing them with relationships, not just academics. - Principal Helena Lopez, Math Science Technology Magnet PTA; Richardson, Texas

As a parent and a leader, it means making a point of involving the community in helping the students be successful. The support that we show the students now is going to directly relate to the future of our community. - President Tammy Schmidt-Swope, Harlingen School of Health Professions PTSA; Harlingen, Texas

If the community is involved with the local schools, that is going to make the school stronger and will feed back into the community. - President LeAnne Ohlenburger, Live Oak Elementary PTA; Round Rock, Texas

Email thevoice@txpta.org and let us know what back the future means to you!

Texas Parent Teacher Association

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Rally Day 2015 by Brianna Vela, Digital Media Specialist

Clockwise from left page Students attending Rally Day stand and applaud the representatives and senators who attended Texas PTA’s biggest event of advocacy at the capitol. The Texas PTA board stands behind Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. while he gives a Spanish translation of his speech to members in the audience. As the new Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Senator Larry Taylor delivers a speech on the importance of getting a well-rounded education.

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During the Legislative Caucus, Rep. John Otto, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and a 2013 Texas PTA Honor Roll recipient, discussed the Houses’ support to increase the number of middle school and high school counselors across the state. This coincides with Texas PTA’s priority to help students get an early start on developing graduation plans. Other lawmakers, such as Rep. Sergio Munoz, Jr., shed light on one of Governor Greg Abbott’s emergency items for the 84th session; early education.

A

“I was excited to speak about my bill, HB 391.” Munoz said. “This bill, which I filed earlier this session, will provide full day Pre-K classes to eligible students.”

Gathering inside the Capitol Auditorium, members were equipped with a list of bills to watch and details on important issues Texas PTA has dedicated time to supporting this session.

Addressing the mothers and fathers in the audience specifically, Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. thanked them for their decision to be a member of PTA and for emerging as a leader in their community by advocating for education.

lthough the weather was not on our side for Rally Day, dedicated Texas PTA members from all corners of the state traveled to Austin to represent their school’s PTAs in the bi-annual event. Held every legislative session, Rally Day is a time when passion for children’s well-being coincides with the opportunity to promote making positive changes in our state’s laws.

Standing up at the podium and backing the future, State Representatives and Senators discussed these issues including early education, children’s health and safety, school choice, school finance and student assessment.

Following the Legislative Caucus, Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., Sen. Larry Taylor and Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock spoke about the importance of providing the state’s children with a well-rounded, quality education.

“Parents,” Sen. Lucio Jr. began. “You serve as invaluable role models to these children.”

The number of lawmakers attending Rally Day was unlike anything Texas PTA had seen before. These legislators not only represented a range of districts across the state, but were selected members of recently appointed House and Senate Committees.

Sen. Larry Taylor is Chair of the Senate Education Committee. His focus is on the continued growth and development of students through technological innovations and school accountability. Setting political parties aside, his message aimed at uniting political leaders for this common cause.

These state representatives and senators included Rep. Carol Alvarado, Rep. John Otto, Rep. Dan Huberty, Rep. Marsha Farney, Rep. Sergio Munoz, Jr., Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. and Sen. Larry Taylor.

“We have to do what we can to prepare our students,” Senator Taylor said. “It’s not about defending the status quo and it’s not about defending institutions. It’s about what is best for our students.”

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Members applauded as their issues of concern were brought to light. Although gathered to support various issues in education most important to them, they all rallied for same goal; our students’ future. “By participating in advocacy efforts like Rally Day, members of our community are making the commitment to back the future of all students,” Texas PTA President Leslie Boggs said. “We’re all supporting legislation that improves the health, wellbeing and education of our future leaders.” Following the Legislative Caucus and Rally, PTA members were encouraged to visit their own state representatives and senators’ offices to speak one on one about concerns they have for their children.

High school students were invited to participate in this year’s first Texas PTA Student Caucus. These young adults met with District 81 Rep. Brooks Landgraf. By speaking to one of the youngest lawmakers in the Capitol, students were able to about what steps he took in school to get to the position he is in today. Rene Hernandez, Sophia Morales and Veronica Rodriguez are all El Paso Independent School District students who attended the Caucus. They were presented with the opportunity to travel to Austin for this trip, but had to go through a rigorous application process. “We had to write an essay about a question we had for our legislators,” Rodriguez said. “It had to relate it to an issue we see in our school.” Little did these students know, they were going to have their essay questions answered in a meeting with Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus. “There are improvements we want to make, especially when it comes to the state tests we have to take.” Hernandez said. “I see my friends who are English learners stress so much about these tests, they don’t focus on what is being taught in their classes.”

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Clockwise from top left Texas PTA Board members stand behind Haley Betron of Canyon Vista Middle School in Round Rock ISD as she sings “God Bless the USA� to an audience full of students, parents, and representatives. High school students pose for a picture with Representative Brooks Landgraf during the Student Caucus. Photo by Ismael Barraza, Journalism Adviser, Andress High School Representative Carol Alvarado speaks to ralliers about HB 170 and the effects of vapor products on minors and her proposal to regulate them. Photo by Ismael Barraza, Journalism Adviser, Andress High School Students in the audience watch as representatives take their turns discussing important issues and legislation Texas PTA is monitoring.

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Following their meeting, Hernandez told PTA Executive Director Kyle Ward she hopes to encourage classmates to become active members of their school’s PTSA. Although no one can ever predict the Texas weather, we can always be certain there will always be PTA members ready to advocate for our children. Let’s continue to back the future of our Texas youth by staying engaged this legislative session.

Visit txpta.org/takeaction to take action today.

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“

There are improvements we want to make, especially when it comes to the state tests we have to take. I see my friends who are English learners stress so much about these tests, they don’t focus on what is being taught in their classes.

- Rene Hernandez, El Paso Independent School District Student

Students Rene Hernandez, Sophia Morales and Veronica Rodriguez of El Paso Independent School District talk with Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus about important issues concerning public education. Photo by Ismael Barraza, Journalism Adviser, Andress High School

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YOGURT PARFAIT

APPLESAUCE OATMEAL

EGG PIZZA

Serving size: 1

Serving size: 4

Serving size: 4

It’s easy to mix yogurt and granola in a bowl, but serve it up “parfait style” and your kids will feel like they went out for a sweet treat! Pour the granola into the bottom of a parfait glass, add yogurt and top it off with fruit and a drizzle of honey for extra, healthy sweetness.

A great way to sweeten up oatmeal is to add applesauce! Mix the water, oats, salt, and cinnamon in medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to just above medium. Continue boiling for 3 minutes then add the brown sugar, applesauce and stir. Scoop into bowls and garnish with apple slices if you please!

Slice your English muffins and get ready for some miniature breakfast pizzas! First boil a pot of water and boil the eggs. While the eggs are boiling, slice your tomato and toast your English muffin slices. Finish boiling the eggs and slice them as well. Layer tomato, egg, mozzarella cheese and the pinch of oregano on each slice then place in the oven for five more minutes on broil.

• 1 cup yogurt (Greek for extra protein) • ½ cup granola • 1 tsp of honey • ½ cup of strawberries and blueberries

• 1 cup oatmeal • 2 cups water • 1 pinch salt • 1 teaspoon cinnamon • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (packed) • 3⁄4 cup applesauce

• 4 English muffins • 1 tomato sliced • ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese • 3 hard cooked eggs sliced • Pinch of oregano

PEANUT BUTTER BANANA TOAST Serving size: 1

Share photos of your finished meals using #healthyPTA Email new recipe ideas and photos of your creations to the thevoice@txpta.org to be featured on the next issue! 24

The Voice

Texas Parent Teacher Association

Packed full of protein, potassium and whole grains, this easy breakfast will keep you child fueled all morning long. Toast the slice of bread, spread the peanut butter, add the slice banana pieces and top it off with a light dusting of cinnamon. • ½ banana sliced • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter (soy nut butter if your child has nut allergies) • 1 slice of whole grain wheat bread (gluten free bread if necessary) • Pinch of Cinnamon


W

SPR ING TIME

ith the chilly winter months drifting off into the distance, Spring is finally here! This means it’s time to break out of the cocoons. This is a great time for your family to wander back outdoors, and try new things together. Texas PTA has come up with five money-saving tips to have fun all spring long. The best part; all of these activities stay clear of a television, cell phone or computer monitor!

Visit the library

Few may know, but many libraries offer several free resources to members of their community. Besides visiting the library to browse for books, see what other activities are scheduled for various weeks. More than likely they will have several children-friendly events planned.

Redecorate your child’s bedroom

Build a garden

Redecorating does not have to come with a hefty price tag. Incorporating little changes into your child’s bedroom can make a difference in how they feel about their space. Together, come up with a plan for what art to create for the walls, where to move around their furniture, etc. Letting them have a say so in what the room looks like will make them feel accomplished and proud of themselves.

Head to a recreation center or park

It is important to be healthy and active as a family. By taking your children to a recreational center or a park, you are introducing them to other places they can have fun and exercise at the same time.

Spring is the best time of year to begin a garden. Even if you have no previous experience, this is a great opportunity to learn something new as a family. Plant some colorful flowers that are in season (gerbera, tulips, pansys) as well as some vegetables you and your family can eat (tomatoes, spinach, sugar snap peas).

Get in the kitchen

Cooking is a great bonding experience. Let your children be involved in the meal planning, shopping and food preparation process. By incorporating your children into all of those things, you are helping them learn life-long skillsets and introducing them to healthier food options. Follow up by sitting down together as a family to enjoy the delicious meal you all have created.

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The world would be a better place if...


Over 50,000 students showed us how the world could be a better place For the 2014-2015 Reflections program, students reflected on how “The World Would Be a Better Place If…” Students from PTAs across the state of Texas submitted outstanding entries in the form of dance choreography, film production, literature, musical composition, photography, and visual arts. Out of the 1,023 entries received at the state-level, Texas PTA was proud to have awarded more than 400 students.

VISUAL ARTS PHOTOGRAPHY MUSICAL COMP. L I T E R AT U R E F I L M P R O D. DANCE CHOREOG.

Thirty students will now be advancing to the National PTA Reflections program. Texas PTA is excited to see these special entries move forward and can’t wait to see Texas students shine! Zach August Aspen Badura Gabby Garza Kiana Sanderson Julia Skeen Paul Brastrom Asher Chrane Hunter Gratereaux Om Mehrotra Jeriko Salazar Kaley Cock Mya Gonzales Gia Lee Lily Ringrose Richard Wu Kyle Dumas Fritz Hager Nora Ivins Devon Motley Pranay Varada Waylyn Davis Madison Echols AJ Faulhaber Cade Franklin Madeleine Watkins William Kennedy Jon Ross May Charlemagne Scarlett Aditi Vikram Sabrina Xin

High School Intermediate Special Artist Middle Junior Primary High School Intermediate Special Artist Primary Middle Junior Intermediate Special Artist Middle School Primary High School Primary High School Special Artist Intermediate Middle Junior Primary Middle Junior Special Artist Intermediate High School Intermediate Special Artist High School Primary Middle Junior

Creekview High School Curtsinger Elementary Encino Park Elementary The Classical Center at Brandenburg North Ridge Elementary Stratford High School Lake Highlands Elementary Vineyard Ranch Elementary Andrews Elementary Barbara Bush Middle School Nebbie Williams Elementary Hardy Oak Elementary McKamy Middle Green Elementary Clear Lake High School Garden Ridge Elementary Robert E. Lee Encino Park Elementary Saginaw Elementary Dewitt Perry Middle School Greathouse Elementary Chisholm Trail Middle School Old Settlers Elementary North Ridge Elementary Mansfield Legacy High School Treasure Hills Elementary Frenship High School Theodore Roosevelt High School McCoy Elementary Vandeventer Middle School

Carrollton-Farmers Branch Frisco North East Garland Birdville Spring Branch Richardson North East Plano North East Rockwall North East LewisvilIe Allen Clear Creek Comal Tyler North East Eagle Mountain-Saginaw Carrollton-Farmers Branch Midland Northwest LewisvilIe Frenship Mansfield Harlingen City Frenship North East Carrollton-Farmers Branch Frisco

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Seven tips for handling the FAFSA application process. On average, it is said that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) takes 23 minutes to complete. This may be the time it takes for a college senior who has had to complete it out four times or for a parent who has had several children go to college, but for a first time parent of a college-bound teenager and a soon-to-be high school graduate, this process could be considered a daunting task. FAFSA is important. This determines how much money your child can get in grants, loans or scholarships. By helping your child fill out this application, they have a greater chance of receiving this type of financial assistance for college. The U.S. Department of Education has developed seven tips every student should follow (with parent’s help) before beginning to conquer the application.

3 6

Your driver’s license number If you don’t have a driver’s license, then don’t worry about this step.

4

Your tax records Use income records for the tax year prior to the academic year for which you are applying: so if you are filling out the 2015–16 FAFSA, you will need 2014 tax information. If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, you can always estimate the amounts using your 2013 tax return, just make sure to update your FAFSA once you file your 2014 taxes. If you have filed your taxes already, you may be able to automatically import your tax information into the FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

1 2 Records of your untaxed income This includes a whole bunch of variables that may or may not apply to you, like child support received, interest income and veterans noneducation benefits.

7

Your Federal Student Aid PIN In order to sign your FAFSA electronically, you’ll need a Federal Student Aid PIN. You can help to prevent processing delays by getting a PIN before you begin the FAFSA. Find out how to get a PIN and what to do if you forgot your PIN. It only takes a minute.

Your social security number If you don’t know it, it can be found on your social security card. If you don’t have access to that, it may be on your birth certificate or permanent resident card. If you don’t have one of those, or don’t know where it is, ask your parent or legal guardian. If you’re a dependent student, you’ll need their help with portions of the FAFSA anyway. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you’ll also need your Alien Registration Number.

5

Records of all your assets (money) This includes savings and checking account balances, as well as investments like stocks and bonds and real estate.

List of the school(s) you are interested in attending The schools you list on your FAFSA will automatically receive your FAFSA results electronically. They will use your FAFSA information to determine the types and amounts of financial aid you may receive. You can list up to 10 schools on your FAFSA. If you’re applying to more than 10 schools, you can add more later. Be sure to list any school you’re considering, even if you’re not sure yet.”

Your child is entering a new and exciting time in their life. As they leave the nest it is hard to say goodbye. Just remember how proud you are of them and their accomplishments. By working with your child to complete the FAFSA application, you are backing their future financially. To begin filling out the FAFSA together, visit www.fafsa.ed.gov

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Cottonwood Creek PTA, Hutto ISD

Choosing PTA Why more school districts are going “all PTA” Ask superintendents who decided this year to bring PTA to all of their campuses why they made the PTA commitment, and their answers are very similar. Whether they lead large, urban districts or up-and-coming suburban systems, superintendents say they like the consistency and resources that PTA brings to a community. Since Superintendent Sylvester Perez officially made the decision this fall for San Antonio ISD to become an “all PTA” district, Dr. Perez has worked closely with his principals and Central Office staff to help prepare them for this shift, which he called a “no brainer” that superintendents across Texas should consider. “PTA has a long track-record of providing the training and support that parents and families need,” he said. “PTA brings the history as well as the resources.” Those resources have included a team of experienced PTA volunteers and staff who recently began the lengthy effort to organize PTAs at all San Antonio ISD campuses, mentor new PTAs through the all-important first year, provide extra help to pre-existing PTAs that may have been struggling, and further develop the San Antonio ISD Council of PTAs. Also, a special day of intensive training for all interested San Antonio PTA members and principals is planned for late March.

Another group of seasoned volunteers is currently focused on supporting Hutto ISD in fulfilling Superintendent Douglas Killian’s vision to establish PTA at all Hutto schools this year. Leaders of the nearby Round Rock ISD Council of PTAs are providing additional mentoring assistance. Hutto is a fastgrowth district with a high rate of mobility, which PTA will help mitigate. “Having PTA at all of our schools helps when a family moves from one school to another, or moves here from another district,” Dr. Killian said. “There is consistency and familiarity.” The decision to bring PTA to all 91 schools in San Antonio ISD came naturally for Dr. Perez. When he started with the district three years ago, he brought with him positive PTA experiences from other districts such as Midland and San Marcos. He had the vision of what a district could be with a strong PTA presence. So he took the past couple of years to assess parent involvement throughout his large and growing urban district. Some of the schools already had PTAs, which varied in their strength and stability. Other schools had non-affiliated parent groups, and the rest lacked any type of formal organization. He knew that without unity, the district would not be able to fulfill its potential – and its need – for family and community engagement. “I knew that the consistency of having PTA at every campus would be crucial to increasing our parent involvement,” Dr. Perez said. “We have 91 heart beats, but we have one heart. PTA will bring us all together.” Hutto similarly had a mix of parent-group scenarios in its schools. Dr. Killian wanted to ensure that families and educators at each of his schools have the same opportunities to support their students. “We decided to make the change to maintain some consistency among our parent organization groups,” he said. “We thought it would be a great way to ensure all campuses had the same resources, non-profit status, and programs. PTA provides the umbrella that offers non-profit status, bylaws, resources and guidance on so many things — without taking away a campus’ autonomy.”

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It’s time for renewal! JoinPTA.org This is the perfect time to renew your PTA membership, and JoinPTA.org is the perfect place to renew! If you don’t see your PTA on JoinPTA.org, it means your PTA leaders need to complete the process to participate in our online membership program. Please encourage them to do so now, which will enable anyone to join your PTA from any computer or mobile device world-wide, and to conveniently pay with a debit or credit card. Being listed on JoinPTA.org will also put your PTA into a special drawing to win a great prize for your school! Let’s congratulate and celebrate these PTAs which have already completed the steps required to be listed on JoinPTA.org. Will one of these PTAs be a big winner this summer? Or will your PTA complete the steps to be listed in time to become the big winner? Renew today and support your PTA!

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be a voice for the future Have a response to anything featured in The Voice or want to see something featured? Send a message to thevoice@txpta.org and let us know your thoughts!

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Outstanding Educator nominations open April 1! Texas PTA’s Outstanding Educator Awards is entering its fourth year, and we’re excited to recognize teachers, principals and superintendents from across the state who have shown that a strong family‐school partnership is the key to student success!


The Voice | Spring 2015