From the Desk of the President

I had the honor to sit at a big, beautiful, ornate executive desk during my recent visit to Washington, D.C. while I was attending the Family Engagement Innovation Challenge Grant team meeting.

The desk is part of the historic preservation display in the museum at our National PTA Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. The desk is featured in the exhibit, because all but a few National PTA presidents sat behind it during the time the Association was headquartered in Chicago.

As powerful as the experience of sitting there would have been on its own, I enjoyed a special feeling of pride (the good kind) knowing that this majestic desk had a connection with NYS PTA. It was given to National PTA as a donation by Alice Tuttle on behalf of NYS PTA many years ago!

With the final months of my PTA presidency staring me in the face, sentimentality invades my thoughts often these days. Sitting at that desk was one of those moments, and the emotion caused me to reflect on all the great work our association has undertaken.

I was overwhelmed when I considered the magnitude of the progress that has been made because of the efforts of our members. I feel a tremendous satisfaction knowing that I have had a small part in such a big deal – and it is a big deal. To think that since 1897, parents and teachers have worked together on behalf of children and youth on so many different issues to make a difference wherever change was needed.

PTA changed with the times and blazed a clear path by doing what is right for our precious children – as it continues to do today, and will continue to do for generations to come.

During my nearly 25 years in PTA, I’ve been approached and thanked countless times by the gamut of players who have a stake in the well-being of our children.

It’s strange to receive thanks for doing work that you believe in. We all know that thanks are not necessary.

But as I’ve shaken the hands and had the luck to meet everyone from random unit members to National PTA Presidents, local PTA newsletter editors to members of the U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate, all have had nothing but the highest regard for the work we do and always felt compelled to offer thanks. I accept their appreciation on behalf of us all.

It is nice to receive thanks, a verbal acknowledgement that the person offering them is in tune with our mission and is there to further our cause. They understand that our tireless members never put down the shield that protects our greatest resource!

As we approach Teacher Appreciation Week, let’s all take a moment to thank those individuals who make a difference every day in the lives of our children. Teachers, by virtue of their profession, are uniquely poised to light that candle in our children that grows into the powerful flame that inspires curiosity, active learning, understanding, a sense of achievement, and the desire to achieve success.

I can distinctly remember some of the ‘favorite teachers’ from my childhood. As I grew older, it occurred to me that the best teachers weren’t just my favorites, but actually included some that I wasn’t very fond of.

Maturity taught me that effectiveness was what counted, and it was very different from popularity. I gained a strong appreciation (and thanks) for the teachers who inspired me in spite of myself.

My five children have also had so many fine teachers that refused to be limited or restrained by a mere job description. I know that people like Miss Signorelli, Ms. Zicherman, Mr. Valentine, Mrs. Pedisich and Mr. Bachman, to name a few, made a world of difference for my children, opening doors that they would never have found without these teachers’ nurturing and guidance.

During Teacher Appreciation Week, I hope all teachers feel the love and appreciation offered to them in thanks for their very special dedication. And when they look into the eyes of their students, may they know that their influence will be felt long after the semester is over – maybe as long as a lifetime.