Members of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) at Daffodil Valley Elementary in Sumner made an important discovery on their way to earning national recognition for the school.
That discovery was that members of their group weren’t just parents — they were family members, from aunts and uncles to grandparents, and from many diverse backgrounds.
They also found that they could be doing more to get everyone involved in PTA events.
“A lot of (PTA) events were not meeting the needs of those families,” said Effie Garcia, Daffodil Valley PTA president. “We (changed) events to meet our demographics.”
About a year and a half ago, PTA members knew they wanted to make positive changes to entice more participation in PTA. They started with asking a question.
Family and community engagement was our top priority. We reached out to the community and student body and asked, ‘What do you want from us, as a PTA?’
Tiffany Marlow, former vice president of Daffodil Valley PTA
“Family and community engagement was our top priority,” said Tiffany Marlow, former vice president of Daffodil Valley PTA. “We reached out to the community and student body and asked, ‘What do you want from us, as a PTA?’”
“We knew that we had work to do,” she added.
As she asked this question, Marlow realized members were already doing the hard work needed to become a National PTA School of Excellence, a program run by the National PTA that celebrates the enrichment of “the educational experience and overall well-being for all students.”
The application to become a PTA School of Excellence required members to survey their community twice. They ran one survey in the fall of 2015.
“(The first survey) was to see where we were at (and) to see if we’re meeting the needs in the community — to find where our starting point was,” Marlow said.
We try get awareness out about what the PTA actually does (and) explain that our budget covers everything from choir (to) school supplies.
Effie Garcia, president of Daffodil Valley PTA
Then, the PTA made its events more accessible to its demographics — which vary widely, according to Garcia. This included some simple changes, like planning a community-wide breakfast and cultural heritage nights, where students can learn about each other’s cultures.
Educating the community about PTA roles were also very important to the members. Not many people are aware of what the PTA helps out with, they said.
“We try get awareness out about what the PTA actually does (and) explain that our budget covers everything from choir (to) school supplies,” said Garcia, adding that members volunteer at the school’s talent show, bingo night, book fairs and field trips.
The PTA ran a second survey in May 2016, to check to see how it was doing. The group submitted its application in June — along with survey results and statement from the school principal on its work.
I want to change the face of PTA. (These events) don’t come out of thin air. It’s the PTA. And we’re not just moms — it’s aunts, uncles, grandparents.
Heather Gadd, vice president of Daffodil Valley PTA
In August, the results were released. Daffodil Valley was selected, along with seven other schools in the state and 173 across the nation, as a National PTA School of Excellence. For PTA members, the recognition stood for the work they’d already been trying to achieve.
“I think it’s huge for our schools because we do have a low-income demographic,” Marlow said. “We didn’t know how good our chances would be. It was a surprise and a huge honor.”
PTA members are hosting a celebration in honor of the award from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 19) at Daffodil Valley Elementary, 1509 Valley Ave E, Sumner. There will be speakers, free crafts for kids and student performances. The PTA will also display the banner it won along with the award.
“I want to change the face of PTA,” said Heather Gadd, vice president of Daffodil Valley PTA. “(These events) don’t come out of thin air. It’s the PTA. And we’re not just moms — it’s aunts, uncles, grandparents.”