PTO Leaders from schools across the Shelby County School District recently attended the annual PTO Forum, held April 22 at the Shelby County Instructional Services Center. At least two PTO leaders from each school were invited to attend the event, which gives district leaders the opportunity to share important updates and to share best practices.
Superintendent Randy Fuller welcomed the PTO leaders and told them how important they are to the success of their schools.
“As a former principal, I can tell you that a good relationship with my PTO was very important to the success of my school,” Fuller said.
Professional Development Supervisor Angela Walker shared with attendees the topic of the district’s Professional Learning Unit (PLU) for the year, which has focused on community partnerships. Walker shared that the district decided on community partnerships as the focus of the year-long PLU based on research showing its importance to student’s success and that it was an area in which the district felt it could improve upon.
Dr. Walker shared with PTO leaders that the PLU focus has been shared with school administrators, assistant principals, Central Office leaders, and teachers monthly in order to help them build stronger community partnerships. Topics have included the four types of school-community partnerships – student centered, family centered, school centered and community centered. The PLU has also looked at highly effective communication strategies, improving communication with families, and the differences between parent involvement and parent engagement.
Walker stressed that while parent involvement is certainly not bad, the research has shown that parent and family engagement activities treat the parents as partners who are involved in planning and decision making process.
The PLU has also focused on educating administrators about the Learning Supports Initiative, which is pulling together all available community resources in order to overcome barriers that are prohibiting students from being successful. The Learning Supports Initiative is another example of forming community partnerships to address the needs of families and students.
PTO leaders also learned about effective strategies with Social Media – from using it to promote their PTO’s and schools – to ensuring their children are creating a positive digital footprint through their use of various Social Media platforms. Technology Coordinator Susan Poling shared great information on how colleges and employers are checking student’s Social Media accounts and relying on them to either approve or deny college acceptance or employment. She also shared tips on how parents and students can use Social Media to their advantage in attracting colleges and employers attention.
The event concluded with the attendees sharing their own best practices and ideas with each other. PTO leaders from each school zone shared ideas regarding events and fundraisers. The ideas were archived through a website where they will be able to print them off for future reference.