Thursday, September 24, 2015

CCPTA Officers Took Part in Governor's Education Roundtable

This past week, CCPTA President Chris Ditta and VP Lisa Sockett participated in a regional education roundtable with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. The roundtable, held in Manassas, is part of McAuliffe's listening tour throughout the State.

Lisa is quoted in the Inside NOVA write-up about the event. Be sure to check it out!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

CCPTA 2015-16 Goals and Welcome from CCPTA President

Dear CCPTA School Representatives and PTA Presidents,

Welcome Back!  As the Arlington County Council of PTA’s (CCPTA) President for the 2015-2016 year, I look forward to seeing you at our first meeting Monday, September 28th at 7 P.M. at the APS Ed Center, 1426 N. Quincy St., in Room 101.  The meeting schedule is below and also available on the “CCPTA BlogSpot”: which is a great resource for information about the CCPTA as well as individual school PTAs.  Please feel free to promote the website to your school, PTA and community organizations.
This month there will be a pre-meeting at 6:30 P.M. for Reflections.  Please invite your school’s Reflections representative to attend this informational gathering.  We hope your school has already started promoting this year’s Reflection theme:  “Let Your Imagination Fly.”  You may mark your school calendar for Arlington’s Reflections Ceremony which will take place on Jan. 27, at 6:30 p.m. at Wakefield High School. 
The CCPTA Board is excited to share with you our theme, “Spotlight on Solutions.  In that vein, we have adopted four strategic goals.  Your role at each meeting is to come prepared to address how these goals are connected to events in your school community.
1.       Facilitate/Highlight successful school-to-school and school-to-community Partnerships
2.       Communicate best practices, lessons learned and success stories related to Personalized Learning through the use of technology or differentiated instructional practices
3.       Promote Family Engagement and inclusive parent leadership opportunities
4.       Continue to support CCPTA and APS activities in the Arts, After-School Enrichment, Summer Opportunities, and Fundraising/Grants/Scholarships
As we “Spotlight on Solutions,” please come to the first meeting on September 28th prepared to answer the question “What topic/issue is the most important to your school this year?”  We would like to use each meeting to highlight each school’s top priorities and success stories. We hope that you will take an active role this year in bringing back to your PTA important information that you learn at our meetings, as well as bringing to our meetings key issues and highlights from your school.  For example, the September meeting is focused on the Whole Child, October is scheduled to be focused on the Arts, and November is scheduled to be focused on Community Partnerships.  Each month, key APS leadership and School Board members are in attendance.
In addition to your role as a liaison between your school and the CCPTA and APS, an immediate need is for you to ask your PTA at its first meeting this year to contribute to a new CCPTA “Innovations Fund,” which will be used to support APS library and classroom Literacy & Reading programs.  We are partnering with APS on this new initiative and seek to fund it through PTA and community contributions.  Please pledge a $1,000 contribution if capable.  If you have questions about this new initiative, please contact me or any member of the CCPTA Board.
If you received this email, you are already on the CCPTA list serve.  If there is anyone else from your school who would like to be on this list serve (e.g., PTA President, Webmaster, Newsletter Contact, etc.) please send me their email address or have them follow the directions at the top of the CCPTA BlogSpot home page to sign up. 
Thank you and I look forward to seeing you all at our first meeting on September 28th.
Evan Thomas  1st Vice President
Lisa Sockett  2nd Vice President
Linley Mancilla  Treasurer
Kathleen McSweeney  Secretary
Lavonne Stewart  Dues Chair
Chris Ditta
CCPTA President

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Free Breakfast for Students on 9/18 from 6-9 am at McDonald's

This was forwarded from the Northern Virginia District PTA.

On Friday, September 18th from 6-9 am, students may receive a free meal at McDonald's, when the student is accompanied by an adult and the meal is eaten there.

The meal includes an Egg McMuffin, Apple Slices and either milk or apple juice.

Please note the fine print:

  • The student must be under 13
  • The student must be accompanied by an adult
  • The student must be present to receive the meal
  • Only one meal per student
  • This is not valid at the drive-thru - eat-in only.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Family Engagement: How does your PTA respect family traditions?

You may have seen the story in this morning's Washington Post about the debate the Montgomery County School Board is having about canceling school for major Muslim religious holidays where students and teachers will miss school.

Now granted, it is difficult to cancel school for everything, and we haven't had a policy discussion about canceling schools here in Arlington for Jewish and Muslim holidays as they have in Montgomery County. But as PTAs, we can send a huge message about how we value families and their traditions - as well as how we welcome families to a school - by avoiding scheduling our PTA meetings on days that are traditional observances for families, like Rosh HaShana or Eid El Adha. 

Kudos to our high school PTA Presidents and Principals. Recently, we had a terrific example of the way our three high school PTAs were responsive to families by moving the events they had scheduled on major religious holidays. The Wakefield and Washington-Lee PTAs rescheduled their first PTA meetings, and Yorktown rescheduled an activities fair, after receiving requests from families to reschedule them from Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur and Eid El Adha. The PTA presidents and Principals at each school graciously complied, and immediately rescheduled the meetings, sending out a message to the school communities this past week.

Such a simple act was seen as responsive and welcoming by the parents impacted by the conflict. And it fits in nicely with our efforts to further engage families here in Arlington, taken up by the School Board as a priority this past year.

How does a PTA President avoid the scheduling conflicts in the first place? The best thing to do is ask the families in your school: Which major holidays require students to miss school each year? What would be good dates to avoid? For Jewish families, Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur are the major ones, and often fall in the first weeks of the new school year. For Muslim families, Eid Al Adha and Eid Al Fitr are the two most important holidays and schools should avoid scheduling major events on those dates. Don't assume that the school administration and teachers know this - they may not. PTAs advocate for all students, so be sure to share the information you receive from families with your schools. Recommend that they avoid scheduling field trips, assemblies and tests on these days.

What steps can your PTA take to ensure you are responsive and welcoming to all families?

You can also refer to multi-faith religious calendars, like the one put out by the Jewish Council, that includes a variety of religious and cultural holidays. Form Family Engagement committees as part of your PTA, and make sure you make extra efforts to communicate to families you don't normally see at PTA meetings.

The CCPTA is committed to your success as a PTA, and the success of all our students; we have decided that each May, we will circulate a list of the major religious and cultural holidays to PTAs to use while planning the following year's activities.  On this site, we have a resources page that lists family engagement resources - please refer to them. If you need a place to start, contact the new APS Family Engagement Coordinator, Rosa Briceno, or contact one of the CCPTA officers. We are here to help.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Challenge Racism Sessions Scheduled at Gunston Middle School

This Fall, Gunston is hosting “Challenge Racism Through Stories and Conversation” - a free discussion group on race for APS parents and community members.

Arlington neighbors recommend this discussion as... “thought-provoking”, “life-changing”, “invaluable” and “eye-opening”.  One Swanson parent who recently participated said, “It will challenge and focus you in such a positive way.  You will feel energized by what you learn.”

The discussions will be held at Gunston, however, this session is NOT limited to Gunston parents. All Arlington adults are all welcome. (Challenge Racism is recommended for everyone.)

Watch the Challenge Racism video online.

Find out more and register online:

Questions? Please contact:

Leah Maderal


100% Free.  The session is free and all materials are provided by the Office of Minority Achievement, Arlington Public Schools.

Please forward this email on to other listservs or to other APS parents and Arlington community members who might be interested.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Internet Service Providers Serving Low-Income Families

Did you know that reduced-cost internet access is available for low-income families?

Low cost broadband internet plans have been created by public–private partnerships to bring high-speed, wireless internet access to those who cannot afford typical expensive plans. There are several major, “competing” low-income internet service programs:

• Comcast’s Internet Essentials
    » To apply online visit or call 1-855-846-8376
• CenturyLink
    » To apply online visit or call 1-855--716-5873
• Cox Connect2Compete
    » To apply online visit www.connect2compete/cox or call 1-855-222-3252

Please make this information available to your PTA families.

Personal Learning Device Handbook Now Available from APS

APS has developed a handbook to answer parents' questions about the APS Digital Learning Initiative.

From the APS website:
In 2011 the APS School Board set the technical direction for the division by establishing a strategic plan objective of providing every student with a personalized device by 2017. The division has taken a phased, methodical approach to accomplishing this goal. We have upgraded the network infrastructure, moved the devices from computer labs to the classroom, provided professional development to teachers, and explored alternative devices.

This year the project is moving into a new and exciting phase. With the behind the scenes work complete we are ready to begin putting personalized devices in the hands of students. In this final phase before full roll-out we are studying the opportunities provided by transitioning from shared devices to personalized devices. Every school in the system is conducting a pilot which is focused on identifying instructional best practices which leverage personalization. These best practices will be woven into teacher professional development and the full project implementation over the upcoming years.

APS is requesting feedback on their draft - so if you have questions, now is your opportunity to get them answered!

Please review the handbook, provide APS with feedback on their draft and distribute the link to parents via your PTA listservs.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Arlington County Council of PTA’s (CCPTA) Honors 21 Graduating Students with $2,000 Scholarship

On June 3, 2015 the CCPTA held the 2015 Scholarship Awards Reception for this year’s honorees. 

Twenty-one graduating APS high school students were recognized by the APS community with $2,000 for their hard work and scholastic accomplishments in preparation for college.  Key Note Speakers at this year’s event included Principal of the Year, Dr. Lynne Wright and Teacher of the Year, Dahlia Constantine who. gave inspirational speeches each recipient will surely recollect at some moment during their college years.

The event and scholarships are sponsored in part by the CCPTA through PTA membership from schools across the County, Operation Rain Barrel and the Summer Activities Fair, as well as the Arlington School Administrators (ASA), and the Arlington County Scholarship Fund for Teachers. Congratulations to all the awardees!

17 of the 21 Award Winners are pictured above: (ASA – 9: Rida Hussain, Xiang “Grace” Li, Rosa Barrera Barrera, Aleisha Bynum, Franklin Gomez-Saaverda, Celeste Meadows, Andrew Paredes, Nancy Rosas Uria, Trang “Vicky” Vo); (ACSFfT – 12: Paola Cabrera, Joseph McBride, Noha Osman, Jasmine Pineda, Pablo Ramos, Estafani Santander, Natalie Slater, Patrice Splan, Matthew Stern, Jessica Taylor, Diana Voronina, and Jonathan Wilson)

Thanks to Ted Hayes and Welcoming Chris Ditta as our CCPTA President

The CCPTA would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Ted Hayes for serving the past two years as our CCPTA President, and additional years prior to that as a CCPTA Officer and school representative. 

Ted has been a calm, competent and able leader. We will all miss him, but are happy that he continues in a leadership capacity on the Washington-Lee High School PTA. Good luck next year, Ted, and thank you for your leadership.

In May, Chris Ditta was elected as the new CCPTA President. Chris is no stranger to the CCPTA, having served for several years as a Barcroft and Kenmore school representative, and also as the CCPTA's Vice President. He is also actively engaged on the Superintendent's Advisory Committee for Technology. 

Please join us in welcoming Chris! We look forward to a fun and productive year.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Upcoming New Officers' Training on June 15, 2015 at Wakefield

The CCPTA will host our annual training for incoming PTA officers on June 15th in the Wakefeld cafeteria. Returning PTA officers are also welcomed!

6-6:30 PM - Dinner (pizza and salad) for all attendees

AGENDA (tentative)

1. Introductions and CCPTA Welcome

2. Board Member welcome from Chairman James Lander

3. Welcome from Dr. Murphy, APS Superintendent

4. APS 101 Presentation
         Includes information on Advisory Committee on Instruction (ACI), Facilities Advisory Committee (FAC), Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) and County Council of PTAs (CCPTA)

5. Guest Speaker  Topic: Instructional uses of Technology

6. Breakout Sessions 
         This is an opportunity to obtain information, ask questions and meet your PTA counterparts at the other Arlington schools. Conversations include the following topics:
                 -PTA President led by Kathleen McSweeney
                 -PTA Treasurer led by Linley Mancilla
                 -APS Communications led by Linda Erdos

Saturday, April 18, 2015

2015-16 Slate of CCPTA Officers

Proposed slate of 2015-16 CCPTA Officers:

President, Chris Ditta
VP, Lisa Sockett
VP/Communications, Evan Thomas
Treasurer, Linley Mancilla
Secretary, Kathleen McSweeney

The slate will be announced at the CCPTA Meeting on April 20th at Swanson. If anyone else would like to run for any of the above offices, please notify CCPTA President Ted Hayes ( to add your name to the list.

The vote for new officers will be held at the May CCPTA meeting on Monday 18 May 2015 7pm in room 101 at the APS Education Center (Quincy Street).

Go GA-GA for Green at George Mason (Arlington Campus) on April 25th

On Saturday, April 25th from 5-8 pm at George Mason's Arlington campus is the annual "green festival" and Operation Rain Barrel Auction.

This year, the theme is "Go GA-GA for Green!"

APS and the CCPTA partner each year with George Mason to run the auction of rain barrels designed and painted by Arlington Public School students. The rain barrels each year have been stunning and tremendously popular. All proceeds from the event are split among the CCPTA Scholarships fund, the early identification program for APS students to attend George Mason University after graduation and Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE).

Entertainment includes the Taylor Elementary Choir and the Gunston Glee Club.

The event is great for the entire family, and wholesome, healthy food will be for sale, $10 for adults and $5 for children.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Chris Ditta has reported that the Kenmore community is using EdBacker to raise funds for specific PTA-sponsored student activities. The CCPTA will list and/or circulate public fundraisers being conducted by schools. Please see the Kenmore campaigns below.

2015 is off to a terrific start! Kenmore now has 5 live fundraising campaigns ready for your donations. Here are the links to each campaign.  Please feel free to share these campaign links with your community and encourage them to pass the news along to their own social networks.  An easy way to get the word out would be to add a link to the campaigns in an email signature, so every email sent out will help drive supporters to it.

Help students learn about Taiko Japanese Drumming:

Help Theatre and Dance Students Experience Broadway:

Help the Show Go On at Kenmore Middle School:

Help our students improve health and self-confidence:

Help student performers reach their potential:

If your school is interested in using EdBacker, contact Gary or MaryEllen - it is free this year to Arlington Schools (except for payment processing fees): 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

APS Policy for Boundary Criteria

At the December 15th CCPTA meeting, a question was raised about the criteria that guide boundary decisions in APS.

Meg Tucillo forwarded the APS and it is APS Policy 30-22.2 adopted by the School Board on November 1, 2012.


January CCPTA Events

The CCPTA will be having our regular meeting on January 12, 2015 at 7 pm in our usual place, the APS Education Center on N. Quincy Street. Please note that while each school appoints a representative to the CCPTA, all meetings are open to the general public.

On Wednesday, January 14, 2015, we will celebrate our Reflections Contest winners in a County-wide celebration and awards ceremony, 7 pm in the Washington-Lee High School Theater.

Happy New Year, and welcome back to school!
Your CCPTA Executive Board