Thank you for including us on the BOE agenda. There is a lot going on in general and with the PTAs in each school. My name is Tessie Thomas and I am the President of the Montclair Council of PTAs (PTAC). It’s been an eventful last few weeks caping off with Montclair choosing to move to an elected BOE. On behalf of PTAC, I am going to highlight a few important topics tonight.
I would like to start with some exciting news – Thank you to Dr. Ponds, and Ms. Kondreck, Reflections was launched on November 1. As many of you know, Reflections is a Nationwide Art competition for the students. It’s the first time that Montclair is participating in it. It comes at a great time around the holidays this month as we encourage our young ones to reflect and express. The theme this year is “I will change the world by…” If you haven’t seen the kickoff video, please do take a look. It’s only three minutes long and a useful reminder of great things we can accomplish together – the district, the MEA, and PTAC. Reflections is near and dear to my heart as it comes at a time after all the craziness of the last year and half. It is a time to heal and remind ourselves that we are in this together.
The next topic I would like to cover is – Elected Board. I realize that this was a hotly debated issue and many have strong views on this. At this point I feel that the time for debate is over. The focus now needs to shift to how best to ensure that this process and the Board can best serve the needs of our students and our community. So in keeping with this focus, PTAC has decided to create space on our website to profile every candidate who stands for the BOE election. All candidates will answer the same set of questions designed to enable them to put their best foot forward, while giving the voters a central place to review candidates. We are working out the details and will wait for the town and district level logistics to sort out.
The second area of work for PTAC will be continuing to increase engagement and urging everyone to vote and have their voices heard.
We continue down the path with our partners – the MEA. Last month the PTAC Executive Board met with the MEA Executive Board and had very productive discussions. We are on the same page on so many topics. We also acknowledged that sometimes we may not agree and that is OK. It is possible to view an issue from 2 different perspectives and it doesn’t make one right. We agreed to have a constant dialog with each other and find areas to work together. Reflections is the first program that we are doing together – more to come.
As you know, PTAC is organized in groups to get work done. The school PTAs collectively is a group – where we periodically meet and communicate constantly to help each other deal with school specific issues as well as bubble up issues across the schools. The next group consists of advocacy committees. These committees are working on district wide issues.
The 2021-22 PTAC Committees are organized as Communications, Community Building, Education and Special Education, Finance and Infrastructure, Health wellness and safety, and technology. The Committees have started their work in earnest. It is heartening to know that in our community, people care enough to make the time to volunteer and take on the responsibility to lead these efforts. I want to thank all the volunteers for their dedication and taking the initiative to do so. Each committee has had their first meeting and taken a first cut at moving towards specific goals for the year. I love the fact that each committee is trying very hard to ensure that their goals are set in an actionable way to create my two favorite words “concrete deliverables”.
PTAC meets once a month. Our meeting agenda summarizes activities we are involved in. The length of that meeting agenda has gone from 5 pages, to 8 pages, to last night’s 10 pages. Clearly, the PTAs are hard at work and doing a lot. I am going to share a few examples – Ready?
Bradford held their Winter Wear & Costume swap and outdoor Pancake Breakfast.
Bullock held a virtual book sale, leaning on Watchung Booksellers. They also held an outdoor Halloween parade.
Edgemont hosted a drum circle for Indigenous People’s Day, Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, Harvest Day, Halloween Mash, and Walk Bike to School events.
Hillside had a Car Wash fundraiser and hosted a Trunk or Treat that was topped off with more sugar with free icecream for all.
Nishuane held a Movie Night and an outdoor bookfair.
Northeast hosted a Global Fall Festival and ran outdoor after school enrichment program.
Watchung held a Cast of Characters parade and bake sale.
Buzz Aldrin is hosting an indoor Fall Fest with DJ, photo booths, and the works!
Glenfield held its traditional Black and Orange Dance!
Renaissance held a Halloween party with DJ dance party and performance by 7th/8th graders.
Montclair High School PTA is off and running. They held their first event – Movie Night in the amphitheater. This event was a huge success and 200 students participated.
This list that I just shared is the tip of the iceberg – there is a lot more that each PTA is doing. As you know, these activities come to life through a lot of hard work by scores of PTA volunteers who work behind the scenes. So, if you see a PTA volunteer – please take a moment to thank them for their efforts.