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.