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.
Let’s start with some good news tonight. The National PTA has selected the Montclair PTA Council as the winner of the 2023 Local PTA Outstanding Advocacy Award. There are 22,000 PTAs in the US and the Outstanding Local PTA Advocacy of the Year Award is awarded annually to one local, district, council or regional pta. This award is based on the work we did for the Community Investment Bond Referendum. Needless to say this is a direct outcome of the outstanding teamwork and the long hours put in by all the volunteers. Thank you. While much-needed capital investments being made in our schools is rewarding by itself, we are honored and feel privileged to win this advocacy award.
In keeping with the theme of acknowledgement and awards, here is an update on Reflections – last year we had 55 entries from 10 schools. I am happy to report that this year we had a total of 170 entries and all 11 schools participated. The total number of entries that made it from the schools to the Council were 56. And we forwarded 38 entries to the State. Thank you to Gretchen Devinsky, Yvette Frazier, Colleen Dougherty, Allison Task, Stacy Ann Greene, and Diane Tehranian for helping make this happen. A big thank you also to all the teachers, staff and parents who helped make Reflections happen this year. Our fingers are crossed for the submissions and their potential selection at the national level. Now we are working on the Reflections Celebration scheduled for Thursday, May 4.
Continuing with the theme of Awards – Josh Weston has brought back the teacher awards in memory of his wife Judy Weston. We are thrilled that the outstanding teachers will be recognized once again. As many of you know these are cash awards given to teachers as nominated and supported by parents and caregivers. MFEE is administering the awards and the Award Ceremony is being planned for Thursday, June 1.
Moving on to School Tours – Thank you to everyone who helped with the School Tours. Our estimate is more than 600 families attended the tours and more than 100 tour guides showed incoming families around the schools. As you know, in parallel every year we organize an MPS 101 Transition series for incoming families. This year the Transition to Middle School is scheduled for 7 pm (tomorrow), February 23 at Glenfield. The panel discussion by students, staff and parents from each middle school will be followed by Q&A. The MPS 101 – Transition to Elementary Schools is being planned for Thursday, March 9. That would be over Zoom and so far we have PTA Presidents and Dr. Ponds on the panel.
Next, I would like to highlight a few of the outstanding work PTAs are doing at the various schools.
CHBullock is getting ready for their Green Ball. In addition they also have the Talent Show, Family Fun Dance, a poet artist in residence, ZuZu African Dancers and a family ice skating event coming up.
Edgemont celebrated MLK Day, by leading an intergenerational storytelling experience with Montclair Gateway where students heard stories from seniors about the civil rights movement. They had a family night where parents got to experience Restorative Justice. Their ongoing work includes a number of Black History Month activities, talent show, launching enrichment registration and more.
Hillside had a successful Winter session enrollment in their ASE program. Their Spring events include – Science Day, Talent show, International Night, 5th grade picnic and 5th grade yearbook.
Nishuane successfully hosted a Caregivers Night Out to celebrate current volunteers and recruit new ones – with about 50 attendees. The Family Dance was a success and the PTA gave Valentine’s treats to the staff. Now they are preparing for Mayfair.
Upcoming events at Northeast include – In-school Digital Citizenship seminar, Read Across America, Soccerthon, Talent Show, Geography Bee, School Dance, School Picnic, and Field Day.
Watchung successfully conducted their Winter Concerts which were well attended. Their Black History Month celebration includes an assembly by the Pushcart Players. Other upcoming events include ASE, Read-A-Thon, and Casino Night PTA Fundraiser.
Buzz Aldrin held an all-school assembly/presentation of “Joe’s Violin” with a Q&A with the filmmakers and discussions in homerooms. They also held their Casino Night fundraiser. Upcoming events include ice skating party, Trivia Night and CPR classes.
Glenfield students volunteered their time to assist Hillside School coordinate the Blessing Bags collection initiative on MLK Day. The new ASE Explorers program is launched. The PTA had Valentine’s Day Cookie Party event for the staff. Upcoming events include – Ice Skating Fundraiser and Talent Show.
Renaissance PTA sponsored an author visit with NYC author Willie Mae Brown who read from her YA book based on her experiences growing up in Selma, AL, during the Civil Rights movement. Upcoming events include – Book Fair, Read Across America Day and Restorative Justice Family Night.
MHS held a Restorative Justice circle for parents to experience the practice, hosted a Chipotle fundraiser, and supported a school pep rally. For Black History Month, MHS spotlighted prominent or little-known African-Americans who have influenced MHS. The annual African-American Achievement Dinner is tomorrow February 23rd and the entire community is invited.
I am filled with gratitude with this list of all the work that the PTA volunteers are conducting. Many a thankless hours go into making all this possible. So, it is only appropriate to celebrate this work and offer a big thank you to all.