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How One Mom Transformed Her School

Page 2 of 2

By GreatSchools Staff

 Getting Other Parents Involved:

Anna-Marie reached out to involve parents from every ethnic group represented at Galileo. What was her strategy? "I spoke with them and asked them to help! Often people only try to recruit other people who are like them. I tried to be inclusive of everyone." Although she admits to sometimes begging other parents to participate, Anna-Marie also understood when parents said they did not have time. When parent volunteers became overwhelmed by the tasks they had taken on, Anna-Marie would both pitch in to help and remind the parents that they are volunteers and should not feel so much pressure.

Working with the School:

The Galileo parent liaison was instrumental in helping to organize the early planning meetings for the PTSA and has been an important resource throughout the process, according to Anna-Marie. The principal has also been very supportive. She attends the PTSA meetings and has invited the involved parents to speak with school visitors. "I think she is just thrilled by what has been happening," said Anna-Marie. She noted that Galileo's teachers have been less involved with the PTSA, perhaps because they are unaccustomed to parent involvement. The PTSA strives to support students and teachers through grants for which teachers may apply and a Teacher Appreciation Week.

Major Challenges:

For Anna-Marie, the biggest challenge in establishing and building the PTSA has been getting other parent volunteers to follow through with their commitments. She said there have been times when someone has taken on a task, but either did not complete it or did not do it well. In that situation it was difficult to keep the person involved while still making sure the final product was good. Anna-Marie tried to be diplomatic, noting that everyone is busy and finds it hard to give the amount of time necessary to do all that a project might entail. This acknowledgment made it easier for others to pitch in and help without any uncomfortable feelings.

How the School Has Benefited:

The parents at Galileo now have a way to tap into school and become more involved with their teens' lives. This has helped make the school more desirable to families. Galileo has also benefited from the PTSA's fundraising through grants and other programs. Teachers have received grants to pay for materials for classes, self-defense training for girls, a school-wide cultural assembly presented by the Black Student Union and more. This year the PTSA will provide SAT workshops for students, and it is working with the principal to decide how to best support education at Galileo with the money from this year's fundraising. "It is just fantastic, phenomenal, what has happened!" Anna-Marie said.

Tips for Other Parents:

Anna-Marie recommends that parents have a clear vision about what they want to accomplish, "and just get it done!" She stresses the importance of recruiting others to participate and then supporting them. "You need to respond quickly when people call or email and coach them if they need it. Make them feel good about what they're doing. Share the glory! Share the joy!"

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

09/5/2006:
"This was quite inspiring..! Thanks Ms Booth.I liked her suggestion about coaching others to do their best"
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