How One Mom Transformed Her School
Getting Involved: Anna-Marie Booth founded the Parent Teacher Student Association and raised money to support programs at school.
By GreatSchools Staff
Anna-Marie Booth is the mother of two sons. Her older son, Joe, was a freshman at the Galileo Academy of Science and Technology when she helped found the Galileo Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA). Anna-Marie has worked as an attorney, a corporate lobbyist, and the executive director of a social justice organization. She is currently a real estate broker and substitute teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District.
When her son enrolled at Galileo High School in the fall of 2003, Anna-Marie signed up to be in the Galileo Parent Club. She soon discovered that although a sign-up sheet had come home, there was no active parent club. Months went by and there was no meeting. As far as Anna-Marie could see, there was no organized way for parents to become involved at the school.
Making a Change:
The parent liaison at Galileo was also concerned about the lack of parent involvement.
In November, she called the few parents who had expressed interest in getting involved and held a meeting. Four parents showed up. Anna-Marie was extremely disappointed that a school of almost 2000 students lacked something as basic as an active parent organization. She had been active in the PTSA at her sons' middle school and had attended PTA training conferences. She decided to put her knowledge and experience to work, and start a PTSA at Galileo.
She preferred to establish a PTSA, which is a local unit of the National Parent Teacher Association, instead of a different type of parent organization because she was familiar with the procedures and the structure. It was also important to Anna-Marie that the PTA provided role models, history and procedure. The other parents agreed that a PTSA unit was a good choice and they got started.
Anna-Marie said that the initial set-up process went fairly smoothly. She had the experience to draft the by-laws, the tax paperwork and other administrative tasks. There were only about five parents involved at the very beginning; but Anna-Marie persuaded one of them to be the membership chair and help with recruiting other parents. She also recruited members. "My philosophy is to be inclusive and include everyone. I wanted to bring everyone who is alive into this!" she said.
Anna-Marie did a lot of the initial work herself, but she was also careful to be sure others had important roles to play. She noted that one of her biggest jobs as the founding president of the PTSA was to encourage and support others and urge them to follow through with their tasks.
By the spring of 2004 Galileo had a functioning PTSA with 33 founding members. One of the first activities the PTSA planned for the school was bringing the San Francisco Assistant District Attorney to speak on "Teens and the Law" to the students at an assembly. Since then, the PTSA has raised funds to benefit the school. It sponsors many programs for the school and contributes grants to individual teachers, who apply by describing how their project will enhance education and how many students will be impacted by it. There are now about 30 PTSA members who are active on committees or involved with fundraising, and 170 individuals have officially joined the Galileo PTSA. Anna-Marie's goal for the future is for every family to participate in some way.