We’ve all seen the movie Bad Moms, right? The one about the moms who are doing the best they can to get by only to be utterly shamed by the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) queen bees for their lack of perfection and involvement? Right, so I’ll admit, it didn’t do much for the stereotype that the PTA is an exclusive clique of stay-at-home moms hell-bent on excluding working moms and only concerned with projects that help their own kids. But can we all agree that it was a gross exaggeration for the sake of comedy?
I mean, I’ll be honest---I saw the movie on opening night. I laughed harder than I had in months. I even found moments of truth and parallels. But I also left knowing that what I saw in the movie was nothing like the PTA experience I myself have had (Praise Jesus!).
The PTA at my kids’ school is made up of a large group of concerned moms and teachers who all want the same thing—a safe, productive, fun, and comfortable environment where the kids can thrive. But the commonality ends there…..we don’t all look alike, think alike, or even behave alike.
While many of the moms stay at home to raise younger children who aren’t quite school-aged, many work outside the home running businesses, working their way up the ladder, or punching the clock just to make ends meet. Some are even lucky enough to work from home, allowing them both the flexibility to be involved at school and the opportunity to pursue a career. And while each of these situations may affect the extent to which a parent is involved or in what form his or her contribution comes, it does not change the value or the intention behind it. And that’s why it works. There is a place for everyone.
When my oldest child started kindergarten three years ago, I knew that choosing a public school over a private one would mean more involvement on my part, and I was comfortable with that. I immediately volunteered to be my son’s room parent and spent the next nine months coordinating class activities and needs between the teacher and the other parents in his class. And while I felt like I was contributing in a direct and meaningful way to my own child and his class, I didn’t necessarily feel plugged-into the school at large or aware of the needs and opportunities that remained, even though I was a general member of the PTA.
So when a friend and neighbor encouraged me to step into a board position in the PTA the following year, I did so without hesitation.
I wanted to feel that connection I was missing and to help the school in a way that went beyond my own children, who were now both enrolled. And I am so thankful for that opportunity to serve. There is something so powerful about a group of people all coming together for the same cause--volunteering their time, knowledge, and elbow grease to better something bigger than themselves.
Our school is amazing. It is one of the best public elementaries in the state, and both teachers and families flock to the area to make it their own. But the PTA has taken this school to the next level, and that is clear to everyone involved. We raise money for technology that the school wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford, we offer extra assistance to the teachers and faculty to make their jobs a little bit easier, and we plan events and activities for the families of the school so that it not only operates like a tightly-knit unit, it feels like a family.
Am I saying all PTAs are the same? Unfortunately, no. And is everyone in my kids’ PTA my best friend? Hardly! I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve encountered a busybody or a know-it-all along the way. But these are personality traits that can be found among any group of individuals in any part of the country and should not define an organization as a whole.
At the end of the day, I feel confident that regardless of our jobs, our incomes, or our personality types, we all want the same thing: the best education for our kids and the best environment in which to receive it. And there is no better way to do that than to get involved in your school’s PTA organization.