My name is Tessie Thomas and I am the President of the Montclair Council of PTAs (PTAC), an elected body that represents and supports the whole community.
We are down to the last meeting of the year. It can get hectic between family obligations and work. Thank you to Ms. Jannah and the Board of Education for permitting public comment virtually, especially during a time when masking and social distancing is so important.
The last few days have been tough with the covid numbers shooting up at an unprecedented rate and hovering around levels that are close to the highest ever since the Pandemic started. Rather than interpret or opine on the seriousness of this, I would like to flag this as something that is on everyone’s minds. Once again we are in unchartered territory and rather than presuming what is good for each student, I flag this with a request for all of us to be kind to each other and work together. We know that COVID decisions require constant analysis and ongoing cooperation and collaboration between all the stakeholders and we do not have a standard playbook. There are no easy answers in this ever-shifting landscape, but it does require more patience than normal from all while everyone deals with the additional burdens of the pandemic. We are grateful to everyone for their best efforts.
That said, I would like to start with some exciting news – Reflections, a Nationwide Art competition, launched on November 1 with support from the district and the MEA received 71 submissions – a great reminder of the amazing talent we have in our schools.
PTAC and the district organized 2 Covid Vaccine Info Sessions by Dr. Chris T. Pernell – one in person which lasted more than 2 hours and one over zoom. She shared many documents with the attendees and has offered to come back again.
BOE Elections – We have created a dedicated space on our website for the profile of every candidate who will stand for election. All candidates will answer the same set of questions designed to enable the candidate to put their best foot forward, while giving the voters a central place to review candidates. The second area of work for PTAC is to continue increasing engagement and urging everyone to vote and have their voices heard.
While the pandemic continues with the new variant in the mix, the PTAs have been swamped.The list of initiatives and programs is long but I will cover some highlights here –
Bradford had robust participation in holiday gifts, is raising funds for their Music Booster Program, and also hard at work on a new cultural awareness program.
C H Bullock organized a successful parent night out at Montclair Brewery, raised funds and also donated Thanksgiving baskets to staff and Toni’s kitchen. This year, they added teacher wish list to the holiday giving program.
Edgemont had their first Music Fest outdoors at Montclair Brewery and raised $18,000. Each class made a music themed piece of art that was auctioned. They also had a successful book fair and the Holiday Sing was on this week – outdoors on the school steps.
Hillside PTA cleaned up the school garden and grounds and planted Fall bulbs in November. They provided Thanksgiving meal baskets to families in need, organized holiday gifts for teachers and school staff and were also able to squeeze in a fun Trivia Night with Nishuane
Nishuane raised money by selling poinsettias, zoom kahoot family game night, and the book fair. They organized a holiday Gift drive and Teacher Appreciation
Northeast submitted significant funding requests to MFEE, launched a spiritwear store, updated their website, and is running a hot chocolate bar for teachers. They also successfully hosted “Five Ways To Give” during the holidays – the name says it all!
Watchung once again held their annual book fair, supported MFEE grants for teachers, donated to Toni’s Kitchen, provided Thanksgiving meals to families in need, supported the holiday giving Make a Wish Program, and held their annual special Spiritwear Sale.
Buzz Aldrin was able to hold an indoor Fall Fest in the gym with a DJ and photo booth and held a holiday party. The PTA provided 50 Thanksgiving baskets for families in need, and now with parent donations is providing gifts and holiday supplies for those families.
Glenfield created a new online “Glenfield Garb” store and conducted a “blind” donations program of Glenfield Garb for low-income students, and purchased 125th Anniversary t-shirts for all staff. They supported MEA’s Wrap & Roll and provided a holiday box lunch for all staff and are also facilitating holiday giving for non-house teachers.
Renaissance PTA completed this Fall’s planned grounds beautification projects, are dispersing ‘mini grants’ to teachers and have actively worked with their teachers and principal to increase after school clubs, and completed a National PTA’s STEM Families Science Fair grant application.
Montclair High School PTA organized a holiday gathering and fundraiser, adopted a number of families for Holiday giving with the Montclair Mutual Fund, established a Communications Committee to enhance school communications, and are supporting the principal on the social and emotional work for students and staff
As you are aware, other than PTAs, PTAC is also organized as Committees that are hard at work on district wide issues. I will highlight two today –
- PTAC Communications Committee worked with BOE members Alison Silverstein and Eric Scherzer to cover Board of Ed meetings and communications, improvements in district communications and the district website.
- Finance and Infrastructure Committee is working on initiatives to support the upcoming bond funding request.
I have seen some of the initial ideas and plans coming out of each of the committees and all I can say is that we are very excited with where these groups are going. I will be sharing these in the near future as these ideas transition into action.
On behalf of PTAC, I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy winter break. Merry Christmas and Happy Kwanzaa to those who celebrate, and a very Happy New Year to all.