Good evening. 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.
I have a few updates that we at PTAC are excited to share tonight. First – we reached out to the community asking for volunteers to help with the passage of the Community Investment plan on the November ballot. Within 48 hours, more than 100 volunteers signed up. We asked specifics on how they can help and we have the following signups by category:
- Register Voters 23
- Write emails and letters – 57
- Host a coffee klatch 9
- Drive voters to polling booths – 26
- Go door to door and speak to people 13
- Make phone calls 22
- Design flyers and posters 20
- Wherever help is needed 28
There are two takeaways from this that I would like to highlight for all –
- The need for capital investment in schools is acknowledged to be obvious – the underinvestment for decades and the state of the school infrastructure is not lost upon anyone.
- We live in a truly amazing community. The call for help goes out and more than a 100 people from across the spectrum raise their hands and roll up their sleeves to help. So – thank you to all those who raised their hands and for your offer to help. Together we will do the heavy lifting for the Community Investment Plan.
The second update for tonight is about our school PTAs. The new school year has started with a bang and the PTAs at each school have worked hard over the summer, put in long hours and organized multiple events to welcome the school community back. Back to School nights are ongoing and the PTAs are putting in significant efforts to make these special for the community. Our theme for the year is to Close the Gap – the gap in engagement and the gap in enthusiasm. We believe that there is a need to restore joy and normalcy post covid and where we are headed is towards a new normal that is more engaging and exciting than the one pre covid.
Along those lines, I will share a few highlights of the hard work being done by the PTAs at each school. As you may be aware, each school had multiple welcome events – let me go through a quick list of a few highlights (the actual list is much longer):
Bradford hosted a Zoom call for new and transfer families and instituted a buddy program pairing new families with returning families.
CH Bullock hosted a Back to school picnic for all families with fundraiser for fourth grade end of year trip. Back to school family socials for new and K families. CHB supported the teachers by organizing a kindness committee to welcome students on the first day of school and provided lunch for teachers who were in training prior to the first day of school.
Edgemont organized a new parent ice cream social, play dates by grade, and a community pizza dinner to end the second week of school. What was different this year was an inclusive bilingual back to school night where the PTA President gave her welcome in Spanish, had materials in both languages and partnered with the district and MFEE to have interpreters for their families.
At Hillside, Parents/caregivers, students spruced up Hillside’s gardens and created a Monarch butterfly station at the school. Current and past Hillside parents/caregivers and students volunteered to lead curious groups of incoming 3rd graders, new to Hillside families, and some parents who had just never seen the inside of the building! They also had the ever popular “BYOE” (bring your own everything” picnic on the field.
Nishuane hosted successful playdates for students and hosted an ice pop social for incoming kindergarten classes and also organized a school picnic. Events like the pancake breakfast – in-person – are now being reinstated.
Northeast organized 2 kindergarten playdates, an ice cream social and a first day family coffee. They also organized a 5th grade car wash last Saturday and met their fundraising goal for that event.
Watchung organized 3 kindergarten play dates, a New student/K ice cream social, Welcome back lunch for staff and welcome coffee for families. They are now working on a walk n roll to school day and an outdoor movie night.
Buzz Aldrin moved the first day of school welcome party to Friday, which may become a regular thing – “First Friday”. They are planning a Latin Fusion night to celebrate the Hispanic Heritage month.
At Glenfield, the entire school community is getting together and partnering with local nonprofits Sister to Sister and Brother to Brother on mentoring programs. They are also working on after school programs.
Renaissance hosted an Ice Cream Social. The PTA provided bagels, empanadas, donuts, and Paper Plane coffee to teachers for the First Day of School Breakfast
At MHS the PTA is in its second year of existence. They hosted a Welcome Back Breakfast and a School Supplies drive. They are about to launch First Fridays, the social event at MHS.
These events are just a few highlights – there is a lot more going on at each school. With our focus on increasing engagement and enthusiasm, we hope that you can feel the excitement of the new school year – and see the hard work being put in by the countless PTA volunteers.