There are few titles more maligned in mom circles than the “PTA mom.” Like “soccer mom,” the name is often said with a sneer. In the song, the “Harper Valley PTA” proves to be an exclusive and judgmental club, and TV shows often show PTA moms competing with each other for creating the best class parties and sugar-free, nut-free, organic bake sale treats. But I’m here to tell you that being a PTA mom is one of the best things!
Before I go further, I need to acknowledge my own privilege. When I worked outside the home, I had a steady income and a bit of extra time to devote to PTA activities, and as a work-at-home mom, I have the flexibility to jump in as needed for school activities. One wonderful thing about being a PTA mom is that there are always big and small projects to be done. Whether it’s something that’s seemingly inconsequential like dropping off a salad for the teachers on an in-service day, writing thank you notes to auction donors, or something huge like planning a fundraising gala or taking on three family fun nights, whatever I do on behalf of the PTA is something that makes a difference directly or indirectly on my child’s school.
As a middle school teacher for ten years, I also felt another benefit of the PTA, getting to know involved parents who don’t just care about their child’s education at report card time. Our PTA planned field days, offered scholarships for field trips, and helped teachers procure much-needed books and supplies that weren’t covered by meager school funding. One year, the PTA even ran a copying service which saved staff an immense amount of precious time. Even in the best of times, public schools are often drastically underfunded, and education funding is often the first thing slashed from state and federal budgets. Until we fix the problem at the top, the PTA serves as a support staff of caring adults who are there for teachers, students, and administrators.
Some of my reasons for being a PTA mom are a bit less altruistic. I’ve made best friends while volunteering for PTA events. In my experience these volunteers are enthusiastic, caring, and fun-loving. It’s not all stodgy meetings full of arguments over the budget for staples. Sometimes planning meetings include craft projects, mindless chatting/complaining, or a few glasses of wine. When I get together with other PTA families, it gives my daughters a chance to know other kids who may not be in their grade or their classroom. Even if nothing comes from these meetings besides each of us having another person to wave at outside the school or in the hallways, that’s reward enough for me.
I also get as many chances as I choose to use my skills and interests for the benefit of our school community. If I notice a display case in the lobby looking frumpy, I can spruce it up. If I decide a school dance would be fun, I can plan one, and the PTA roster is full of other people who are interested in these projects to help me. Planning events and creating beautiful things make me happy, and being a PTA mom gives me a chance to spread joy to the school at large.
Even if becoming a PTA mom isn’t appealing to you, I would encourage you to find another way to get involved in your child’s school. Volunteering gives so much more than the time and energy it takes from you. School is what we make it, so help make your child’s school a place of pride.