We know that there is a direct connection between family engagement and student success. Families play a significant role in their children’s success, no matter what their socioeconomic, educational or cultural background may be. When families feel welcome and engaged in their student’s learning, it has a lasting effect on students and their academic outcomes. An important component in engaging families is the relationships between families and teachers. A positive relationship where teachers and families work together enhances a student’s experience at school and helps make their potential a reality.
When my first-born child went to off to school nine years ago, I didn’t know much about “family engagement” but I did know that in order for my child to do his best, I needed to get involved with the school in whatever way I could. I knew that the key to helping my child succeed was to work alongside his teacher to make sure we were supporting him in all the right ways. I was determined to get involved and make his experience the best it could possibly be, and truth be told I wasn’t so sure about leaving my “baby” there at school all day. I figured that maybe PTA was a way to get to know the people entrusted with my son, contribute to making our school better and possibly catch a glimpse of my child during the school day. But, with a two-year-old at home, I soon realized that I couldn’t possibly contribute to volunteering in the classroom. I thought I might be able to support our teachers inside the classroom by supporting them outside of the classroom if I was a part of the PTA.
I joined the PTA right away and attended my first meeting, where I volunteered to run a new fundraiser. The following month, I attended the PTA meeting and was elected President-Elect. You might say “wow that was quick!” or “that lady doesn’t know how to say no” and if you are a PTA Leader you probably have a very similar story, but when I joined the PTA I was able to connect, build relationships and support the teachers at our school, providing an essential foundation of support that my child needed.
What started as a need to connect and partner with teachers ended up becoming more for me. It was not just something I was doing for my own kids, or the other kids in our school, but for all children. Fast forward nine years, and three kids in school, and I still very much value the relationship between parents and teachers. My work with PTA has taught me that when parents and teachers partner to bring the best to all students and families, there are no heights our children can’t reach. So, during American Education Week I thank all teachers, not only for their hard work and sacrifice every day, but for being part of the initial motivation for me to get involved in my school and PTA. I appreciate all that you do and I am glad to be alongside you in this journey.
~Lisa Kensel, Portland Council PTA President