Tuesday, October 27, 2015

PTOs...Partnering Makes Our Schools Stronger

Washington School PTO recently held their annual Bulldog Fun Run.  What started as a school-fundraising project three years ago has grown into a community-building event for the students, staff, and parents. It all begins with students setting a goal for the number of laps they will run and seeking family and friends to promise the students pledges for completing the run.  While the students set goals and pursue pledges, PTO members pair up with local businesses that provide financial support to carry out the event.  Then the day of the run: a huge number of parents and family members come to help and watch as every student and every teacher participate in the run.  “It’s like a big sporting event; everyone is so supportive and so proud to be a Bulldog,” declares Principal Laura Maron.

Why are events like these successful in our schools?  It’s due to the tremendous support of our families and our community.  Children thrive on the opportunity to do an activity like this alongside their teachers, and they love to have their parents participate at school as well.  The partnership that PTOs have developed in our schools provides opportunities students otherwise may not have. Parent involvement is a key contributor to the success of our students.  Researchers have been studying the effects that parent attitudes and actions have on their children’s academic success for many years, and they have consistently reported that children with parents involved in their education and schools earn better grades, score higher on tests, and much more.  

We recognize the value of our PTOs and the opportunities they bring to our school communities.  Jesse Peters, Prairie View Principal, states, “The PTO is a great way to bridge school-parent communication and relationships.”  Christine Ziemann, Wilson and South Beaver Dam Principal, agrees.  Mrs. Ziemann proclaims, “The support and the funding that the PTO provides help to make our school family stronger. They are a very important part of our school, and we are grateful for them.”  Thank you PTOs, and thank you parents for your commitment and involvement in your child’s education and our schools.

Something to Brag About

Everyone loves praise and recognition for the hard work they do, kids included.  Best practice is to provide students with at least 5 positive comments to every one negative comment.  This 5:1 ratio helps students understand what is expected of them, builds self-esteem, and reinforces the positive behaviors students are exhibiting.
“Brag Tags” are a new way for students at Prairie View to receive this positive recognition and to show others the positives as well.  Brag Tags are necklaces that each student at Prairie View has that are filled with colored beads and plastic tags that represent positive behaviors.  The idea of Brag Tags was brought to Prairie View by Heidi Graff, a Prairie View fourth-grade teacher.  She had seen Brag Tags promoted elsewhere and thought it would be a wonderful way to acknowledge great student behaviors.  Ms. Graff commented, “Brag Tags are a fun, cool way to recognize students for all the wonderful things they do each day at school!  The kids are really excited about the tags and motivated to earn as many tags and homework beads as possible!  By the end of the year, I expect the necklaces filled with lots of tags and beads, all of which represent the many accomplishments of a successful school year!”  The Prairie View Parent Teacher Organization quickly jumped on board, supported the idea of Brag Tags, and purchased the Brag-Tag materials for the school.  Kelly Kuenzi, Prairie View PTO co-president shared, “I think Brag Tags are a great school-wide incentive that will help promote and reward positive behavior and hard work.  They will motivate students to have responsible, respectful, and safe behaviors at school.”

Each classroom at Prairie View has an area where all the Brag Tags are displayed.  On Fridays and during special occasions, such as positive behavior assemblies, students wear their Brag-Tag necklaces at school.  Right now the necklaces are rather bare, but throughout the school year, students will earn colored beads for behaviors such as turning in homework or completing reading activities.  Each month students also have the opportunity to earn a special school-wide tag for a specific behavior such as respect, responsibility, or trustworthiness.  Even within art, music, and physical education classes, students earn special tags for their behavior, performance, or effort.  So as the year progresses, students’ necklaces will become increasingly colorful and abundantly filled with acknowledgements of their successes.