So there is another thing that I did a few months ago and never wrote about…
Last May I volunteered to be my daughter’s school’s PTA vice-president. I agreed because I was told that one of the co-presidents at the time was going to be president again. I figured if someone who knew what they were doing were running things, I could serve as a helpful support person while learning the ropes. Then I could take over the following year when she termed out.
Well, that person didn’t stay on as president, but I’m still the VP. The two other new officers (the president and treasurer) are also first grade parents, which means they have (also) only been at the school for one year. Luckily the treasurer has a son going into third grade and she’s been working with the PTA in some capacity for a while. Thank god one of us knows what she is doing, otherwise we’d be flying blind.
I’ve mentioned to a few people that I’m the VP at my daughter’s school’s PTA and every time I’ve been met with a resounding, WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING? Sometimes this question is expressed in a transparent facial contortion, but most of the time people just ask me outright. No one can understand why I would do something so…stupid? Unnecessary? Thankless? Labor- and time-intensive?
I guess for a lot of people it is a foolish thing to do. We’re always being told the importance of saying no, of not taking on too much. Interestingly it was while reading a chapter in a book about intentionally creating a meaningful life that I decided I would say yes when they asked me to be on the PTA (I knew it was only a matter of time before it happened). Community is important to me and if I’m part of the PTA I can cultivate community at my daughter’s school.
Yes it will be a lot of work. Yes, sometimes it will be stressful. I acknowledge and accept that. I sent my daughter to a lower-preforming urban school because I want to be a part of the solution, I want to affect real change in a place where my efforts might actually be of consequence. Just sending her to that school is not enough, I need to do more. This is one way in which I can help.
It’s going to be a challenge. This school has a lot dividing it, with a Spanish immersion and GenEd track, with elementary and middle grades, with primarily Hispanic and African American families. Heck, the school is even housed in two buildings that are kitty-corner to each other! But they are working hard through their One School initiative to bring all these converging groups together into a inclusive, cohesive community. I hope to help them do that.
Unfortunately the PTA officials are not the only inexperienced leadership at the school this year. The principal left rather abruptly over the summer and the former VP is stepping into the position moving forward. She has been at the school for three years which is good, but those are her only three years of administration experience, which is less good. I hope can step up to this challenge, because the school definitely needs strong leadership. The new VP comes from across the bay and doesn’t have any administrative experience that I know of (none was mentioned in the letter to parents announcing the change in administration). I’ve met with her once and she seems competent enough. I’m hoping together they have what it takes.
This Saturday is the Back to School BBQ. It’s technically not a PTA event but it’s clear the school is relying on us to make it happen. It requires a lot of planning, coordinating and executing. A lot of meetings. A lot of emails. (Oh my god! So many emails!) It’s going to be our first official event. I’m nervous, and excited. Sometimes I wonder if I made mistake, taking this on, but then I remember that the whole point was to make my daughter’s school a better place, and then I stop wondering.
Here’s to a good 2016-17 school year… at my school and my daughter’s.