As we head back to school for a new year, some of us are reluctant to give up laid-back summer schedules. Others are anxious to return to the structure and routine that comes along with classes being back in session. One thing we all agree on though is that we are sending our students back to the best schools in Georgia!

Consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in Georgia, East Cobb is also home to some of the state’s highest ranked schools. Top-notch academics combined with diverse extracurricular activities contribute to the success of a school. However, research shows that one of the key factors that make our schools stand out is the level of parent and family engagement.

According to a recent study by the US Department of Education, “raising the next generation is a shared responsibility. When families, communities, and schools work together, students are more successful and the entire community benefits.” The study shows that the more families are invested in the life of the school the greater student achievement is in both grades and test scores, attendance is higher, graduation rates are higher, and alcohol and drug use is lower.

With such great schools here in East Cobb, it should come as no surprise that East Cobb schools are supported by strong PTAs. The East Cobb County Council is a group of PTAs and PTSAs from 35 schools in East Cobb – we represent the PTAs at Kell, Lassiter, Pope, Sprayberry, Walton and Wheeler High Schools and all of their feeder elementary and middle schools. The PTA’s mission is “to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.”

Your school’s PTA/PTSA offers many programs that help students reach their full potential no matter what their interest. Students are encouraged to use their creativity by participating in National PTA’s Reflections program – a contest that lets students express themselves using dance, film production, literature, music composition, photography and visual arts. For the more literary minded students, ECCC PTA hosts an essay contest each year called “Honoring our Heroes” in which students are encouraged to write about their everyday heroes. Your school’s PTA/PTSA also sponsor’s many programs, which enhance classroom education – Reading Bowl Teams, Mathletes, Chess Club, Learning Gardens, STEM nights, International Festivals and Book Fairs, are just a few programs that can found in many of our East Cobb schools.

PTA/PTSA also advocates for students through programs in your local school that may serve populations that are more specific. Diversity and Inclusion programs celebrate the rich cultural backgrounds of all residents. Exceptional Student programs work hard to make sure every student in the school feels welcome and has a voice, regardless of learning styles or educational needs. Programs such as All Pro Dads champion the roles strong father figures play in a child’s success.

PTA/PTSA also advocates for children beyond the walls of the school. We take seriously the job of informing and educating parents about legislative issues affecting public education. We encourage parents to research the candidates’ stances on public education and be an informed voter. On the County level PTA leaders work with school board and school district officials to make sure our students’ voices are heard.

Every one of us can help keep our East Cobb schools on top! As you head back to school, we encourage you to join your school’s PTA/PTSA. Even better, get involved. Becoming more engaged will not only help your own child but will increase the overall performance of the entire school. Our students and our schools are better when we all work together.

This article was written by Illana Burkhart, the President of ECCC PTA’s and Co-President of Davis Elementary PTA, and originally appeared in the August issue of the EAST COBBER magazine, on page 12. Click here to view the digital edition.