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.
We start with wonderful news tonight about – Reflections! As you may recall PTAC conducted this program for the very first time in Montclair last year. This year’s theme was – “Show Your Voice” and there were six categories – visual arts, photography, music composition, literature, film production and dance choreography – in their respective age groups. I am thrilled to report that 13 of our 38 entries to the state have won state level awards for Reflections. Last year we had 2 entries that won at the state level. So we have gone from 2 to 13. Also, overall this year we had 170 entries as compared to last year when we had 56. Our fingers are crossed for these state level winners to potentially win at the national level. We are now jointly working with the MEA on the Reflections Celebrations scheduled for Thursday, May 4.
Switching topics, as you know, the Transition to Middle School was on Thursday, February 23 at Glenfield. We had more than 250 attendees and there was a panel of 18 students, staff and parents representing all the middle schools. A similar community conversation, Transition to Elementary Schools was held over Zoom on Thursday, March 9. All the Principals, PTA Presidents, Dr. Ponds and Dr. Harrison Crawford were on the panel. Both events were informative, and went well. We are getting positive feedback on the events. Thank you to everyone who was on the panel – parents and staff.
As you know PTAC at its core has been about working together to leverage what we have and create concrete deliverables that are more valued for all. PTAC and MFEE are cosponsoring a speaker event for SEPAC during Autism Acceptance month – details to follow. It’s always great when folks come up with new event ideas that lives this value of working together. A perfect example is the new STEM Fair being planned right now – In the fall three PTAs won grants from the National PTA. Instead of hosting three different STEM Fairs in the individual schools, the monies are now being pooled together and the Elementary School PTAs are hosting this district wide STEM Fair. This Fair is being targeted for all elementary students with middle and high school students volunteering and earning community service awards. This event is slated for April 30. Please be on the lookout for information on the event.
Switching over to the topic of what is going on with Renaissance. In the last few days, we at PTAC have received a lot of communications related to where we are. It is an understatement to say that the emotions are running high. Everyone seems to have strong opinions and feelings about the potential outcome. There is also a strong desire to hold folks accountable for the situation. We hope these emotions are driven by an acute concern for students, their well-being, and the impact this can have on them. We are not here to take sides, but we are here to urge everyone involved to keep the children front and center. Focusing on blame is likely to be unproductive at best and damaging at worst. We have said this in the past and we would like to remind everyone again – when adults mess up, children suffer. We are sure there are multiple considerations in this complex situation, we just ask all to think if any of those considerations are more important than the impact on the students and their future. We urge everyone involved to please take a step back, soften hard stances, be pragmatic, and reach a resolution that is best for the children of Renaissance. It is important to think about outcomes, but also to think about how we get there – community memories are long and a win may be rendered meaningless in short order if it not a win for the children at Renaissance.