Planning Programs

By Melissa Cancro, Programs Coordinator

One thing I like about winter is the occasional snow day. Note I said an occasional snow day. Too many in a row and cabin fever sets in.

This is a good time to think and plan. Since I’m the Programs Coordinator, I’m usually thinking about where do we need to go next in programs.

Programs can be a valuable resource to your PTA. Parents will find value in what you do if you offer them something that they need. They will naturally help spread the word about your PTA.

For example, a parent might give another parent a great tip about something they are dealing with. “Oh where did you learn that?” “At the PTA meeting last month, they had a great speaker about . . . They are talking about social media at this month’s meeting. You should come.”

Think about issues that affect your school. Some issues jump out right away.

In middle school and high school, social media always comes up. Technology moves so fast and it is hard to keep yourself informed about all the choices that are out there.

In high school, demystifying the college process is a valuable program.

In elementary school, programs that teach how to help students with homework and how to communicate with teachers will build life long skills.

Survey the parents in your school, they may bring up something that you would have never thought of. Survey Monkey is a great way to do an online survey.

Some people only respond in person. You could give out index cards at an event and ask the parents to drop their suggestions in a box on their way out. Ask for ideas at the end of a meeting and make sure that someone is writing them down so you can look over them later.

Finding a speaker can seem daunting at first. One place to start is in your school. Ask a teacher, social worker or principal for suggestions. Many times the staff are willing to present.

This helps you because you have a speaker. It helps them because they are addressing a group of parents at one time and getting the word out on what they are working on.

You can ask your members. Sometimes a PTA member has a connection or is an expert on the subject area.

Ask other PTAs. Another PTA in your Region might have a great speaker that they would recommend. Your Region Director might know someone who could help you. The NYS PTA board has coordinators and specialists in different areas. Contact one of them! Use all your resources!

Just a couple of tips.

  • Don’t forget to invite members of your community to your meetings! Some parents with preschoolers might be interested. Senior citizens might have a child in their lives that they could use this information for. Remember your community represents children from all over. Our mission is not just to help the kids in our school but all kids.
  • Make sure to have translators if many members of your community speak a different language. We want to make sure that everyone can understand the speaker and get the information they need. If there are any handouts, make sure that they are translated also.
  • Ask the speaker’s permission to video the meeting for parents who may not be able to make the meeting. This way members can view it online. They will see what an interesting program you have presented and will make plans to attend the next meeting.

For ideas on different types of meetings and other ideas, please check out the Programs Section of the Resource Guide or contact me at programs@nyspta.org.