Moving to a new town or starting to attend a new school can be hard for kids. We read all the time about ways to help our students make the adjustments easier, or on the flip side, how to help welcome the new kids and help them feel more at home at their new school. That feeling of being new or out of place can be just as hard on parents who are struggling to meet new friends or figure out the in’s and out’s of a new school, while at the same time trying to ease the transition for our kids. And these feelings are the same, whether we are sending our babies off to kindergarten or to college.
One piece of advice we’ve all heard is “Get Involved.” For students that can mean joining an after school club or trying out a sports team. For parents, a great way to get involved is to help out at school. And that is exactly what I decided to do.
For some of you the memory of sending your first child off to kindergarten seems like forever ago. Maybe it is difficult to remember the butterflies that were swimming in your stomach that morning. It wasn’t so long ago for me. I remember the anxiety of not knowing if she was going to be afraid when I left, whether she would get lost in the hallway, be able to pull up her own pants in the bathroom. How in the world would she manage the lunch line and the chaotic cafeteria? I remember kindergarten orientation and listening desperately to speakers for information that would prepare us for the milestone. I went to sneak a peek and watched as my child cheerfully met her teacher as I cowered behind her afraid someone would notice that I had no idea what I was doing or how I was going to actually let her go to school the next day. I remember standing in the cafeteria overwhelmed by the clubs and programs and staring at the stage where the PTA was set up- walking up four steps to the stage to ask for information and buy a membership. The memories of my child’s first year at school are of me trying to figure out the ropes. What does a copy mom do and is that the same as a room mom? Why can’t I send my kid with cookies for snack? Who is teaching my kid popular songs on repeat- like Old Town Road- and what is this band called Kidz Bop Kids? What do you mean I missed the spirit wear deadline?
All of those feelings were overwhelming. Maybe I took a crazy pill, but it motivated me to want to get more involved. To ease the feelings for the next group of new moms. To create a more welcoming school where parents feel at home and welcome. I don’t think it was as much a crazy pill as a desire to invest myself in our community and help shape my kids’ school into what I see for the future that pushed me to sign up as President. So now, I am drawing on my experience as a timid, inexperienced new kindergarten mom. I am working with the blank slate that my ignorance of past PTA programs and business has afforded me. I am basically stepping into a room with fresh eyes and a new perspective. Anything goes! Along with some of the most talented and caring volunteers on this planet, we are attempting to build up our PTA with a laser focus on advocating for all children. We are drawing on belief that providing our kids with a learning environment that is collaborative between teachers, administrators, parents and community is a key to their success and our community’s enrichment. Our job is to provide the opportunities for parents to be involved, opportunities for businesses to support us, opportunities for teachers to interact with the parents and the children to participate in that. Those are the essential components of a school’s success- we must find ways to involve all parents, all families, all teachers, the entire community. We can’t force anyone to participate but we can make darn sure they have the chance to.
I am no longer that timid kindergarten mom. I am that PTA volunteer who will introduce myself to the new folks in town before they have a chance to cower in the corner. I will reach out my hand and make it easier for everyone to participate and shape the future of our school’s PTA. I will work to empower our community to invest themselves in the success of our kids’ school. I’ll work to make sure that when someone steps up to lead, they are not seen as “crazy”, but rather, persistent, passionate, available and focused on what is best for the kids.
This article was written by Laura Kubica, Co-President of Keheley Elementary School PTA, and originally appeared in our November issue, on page 10. To view a digital edition, click here.