Sharing of Ideas Through a “Live Story”
by Dionne Tuplin
Ellerslie Elementary Home and School Association
Presentation: Semi-Annual Meeting, October 8, 2019
Good evening and thank you for coming. My name is Dionne Tuplin and I am the Co-Chair at Ellerslie Elementary Home and School Association and the Westisle Family of Schools Rep for the PEI Home and School Federation. I am a Mom of 4; 3 of my children are currently in the school system and my daughter will be starting in 2 years. Today, my topic is “Sharing of Ideas through a Live Story.”
Before I get started, let me give you a little backstory. When I was a kid growing up in New York, I remember seeing programs and brochures with my friend’s last names on them. I asked them why were their names all over the place and they said, “Oh, my Mom is on the PTA (Parent Teacher Association).” I asked, “What’s the PTA?” “I don’t know, but they do lots of programming and my Mom’s part of it.” Since both my parents worked, they didn’t have time to volunteer with the PTA and at the young age of 11, I realized that when I had kids, I wanted to be a part of a PTA.
Fast forward to 2014, when my youngest son started school, I jumped on the chance to be a part of the Ellerslie Home and School. For the most part, I sat as a spectator, taking it all in, trying to figure and understand what was going on. At this point, I was simply glad to finally take part. By the time 2017, rolled around, our then Home and School President was stepping down and I volunteered for the position ONLY if someone else would co-chair with me. By the Fall of 2017, I was the co-chair at Ellerslie Home and School, but really had NO IDEA what I was doing. I remember getting lots of emails and correspondence from the Federation, and not really sure what to do with most of the information. For a good while, I still felt like a spectator and was filling a void.
My then co-chair decided to step down in January 2018, and once again, I felt like I was twiddling my thumbs, and there were MANY times I was ready to quit. I saw there were some awards coming up that we qualified for, so at one of our meetings, I brought up School Bus Driver of the Year and decided to submit an entry. We were very pleased when one of our own bus drivers was being recognized, and I started to see a glimmer of hope.
During the Fall of 2019, at the end of September, the Federation was hosting a couple free workshops for current Home and School Presidents and committee members to get a better understanding of what is your role as a committee member and ways to create more engagement in your local Home and School. I went to this workshop with my current co-chair, Erin Veale, and this was an eye-opening experience for me. I realized that we weren’t alone and hearing from other presidents and co-chairs about their successes and struggles helped to put things into perspective. I had a long talk with Shirley in the federation office, and she let me know that if I had any questions, she was a phone call away.
That was all the ammo I needed. Knowing I had someone in my corner made all the difference.
So, Ellerslie went to work.
We had a couple copies of the Book of Reports that is distributed at the Annual General Meeting from April 2018, and this is literally where we got most, if not all, of our inspiration. In this report were pages of ideas from all the schools that are part of the Home and School Federation. I like to take things in bite size chunks and let things absorb, while others may be able to take the information in one sitting. Either way, we realized this is a great way to utilize what has been working within other schools and take what we believed would work in ours.
One of the many challenges faced with a home and school is asking for donations and support from the community. Many times, it seems as if we are continually asking for money for this project or that and sometimes, we need to put things into perspective so everyone can see the big picture. For the 2018-2019 school year, the Ellerslie Home and School participated in and/or co-sponsored over 30 initiatives for our students, staff and community as a whole. (See Ellerslie Home & School Initiatives Handout.)
Most, if not all of the ideas came from the book of reports. Some of our successful programs included Recipes in a Jar, Mother’s Day Basket and Father’s Day Draw, just to name a few. We came up with new ideas to showcase our students and their talents by hosting a Logo Contest for our home and school. The winning artwork received a $25 gift card to Indigo Books and is now used as our Home and School logo. We recognized Perfect Attendance for 6 students, created calendars for the 2019-2020 school year, as well as submitted applications for Extra Mile Award and School Bus Driver of the Year.
It can be hard at times to come up with ideas for your local home and school to keep engagement ongoing. By utilizing the Book of Reports, you can get lots of ideas, get creative and even pique interest for more volunteers. Some other ideas shared during this session included providing a Potluck for the teachers and staff during Parent Teacher interviews, and hosting a Chase the Ace. One school shared that this alone helped to raise $30,000 for their local home and school.
I encourage you to utilize the Annual Book of Reports for inspiration, but to also reach out to your fellow home and school presidents/committee members for ideas and support. Please visit www.peihsf.ca for a listing of all home and school presidents/co-chairs and connect with each other. If we can work together in this aspect, we can truly help to make a difference on the island and provide many great activities for our students, schools and communities.
Posted by Shirley Smedley-Jay on Monday, October 21, 2019.