Founders Day update

In an effort to keep open communication with regard to our Founders Day plans, we would like to provide some information about planned changes to our PTSA Founders Day Event.  We do understand that this program has remained relatively unchanged for many years and would like to provide some background information about some of the changes that are being made, and why we have decided to make those changes.  Please know that we do welcome and value feedback.  There have been multiple meetings held, which were open to anyone to attend.  Our next meeting is scheduled for January 13.
Our current plan includes the following:
·         We will ask each of our 24 PTA/PTSA units to select one Parent Volunteer, one Staff Member (and one Student – for each of our six PTSA units) to recognize for their contributions to PTA
·         Each unit will be asked to fill out and submit a brief award form describing why they have chosen to honor those individuals.  They will be listed in our program.
·         We will ask units to provide a centerpiece for their table(s.)  There will be a contest for the best centerpiece with the winner receiving either a $100 Meijer gift card to use for a future event or an omelet bar by the Patriot Inn.
·         We will use Sign Up Genius (online) to allow units/guests to select their tables.  Once the unit has paid, they will be sent a link to view the sign up genius to select their table(s.)  
·         We will continue to recognize TOYs and would like to ask them to do a brief speech (max three minutes each.)
·         We would like to invite a LPS music dept group to perform
·         We would like to recognize our community partners in some way
·         We do not currently intend to ask students/volunteers/staff honorees to speak
·         We will continue with the power point visual presentation – please start gathering photos!
We are currently in the process of evaluating our programs and trying to make changes where we think they are needed and appropriate.  We have made changes to several programs already this year, and created several new programs and events in an attempt to address the changing needs and desires of our PTA community.  This isn’t the same PTA that it was five or ten years ago.  Neither is the district the same.  We are trying to recognize that and to address those changes, rather than fall into the trap of “we’ve always done it that way.’ 
This note from the Michigan PTA is an important reminder why we celebrate PTA Founders Day:
Founders Day Festivities
PTA was founded February 17, 1897 and Founders Day is a reminder of the substantial role that PTA has played locally, regionally, and nationally in supporting parent involvement and working on behalf of all children and families. It is a time to reflect and take pride in our many accomplishments, and to renew our commitment to be a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for parents, and a strong advocate for public education.

Some further considerations that are going in to our overall Founders Day evaluation process include the following:
  • We felt that the focus of the evening has become the recognition of the students, and not our PTA volunteers.  We would like to make sure that our volunteers have a prominent part in the evening. 
  • Some staff members have commented that their volunteer PTA parents leave feeling discouraged having seen the student portion, knowing that their students will never be selected to be on that stage due to developmental or other disabilities.  They don’t see how this PTA event includes them or why they should return. 
  • Staff members have responded that they are sending an entire group to support an honored co-worker, because they are so proud and excited for them.  This is especially true at the elementary level.  We can’t adequately convey the excitement from that group.
  • Some parents have commented that the students all seem to be selected on the basis of their involvement with certain (non PTA) programs.
  • Many PTA officers and involved parents have commented that they know that their children will never be selected for the honor, even as they give so much to PTA, typically while their own families take a back seat to their PTA involvement.
  • Many parents are delighted when notified that their child has been selected for the Founders Day honor, stating “I didn’t even know there was a PTSA Council.”
With regard to the tradition of selecting five high school students for PTSA recognition, some of the feedback that was considered: 
·         Each high school has used their own process for the selection of students.  PTSA Council receives five names of students who have been selected by staff.  They have always been amazing young men and women.
·         We wanted to look at the process and to determine how/if it reflected PTA qualities and participation.  This is, after all, a PTSA event.
·         We wanted to be able to be sure that the selected students would be able to select THREE teachers or staff members who have had a positive influence on them. This is an important part of the process, to recognize those who have helped us to become the person we are.  In the recent past, many students haven’t been able to identify anyone (beyond secondary level) who has “done anything for me.”
·         We wanted to find a way to recognize those students who, while they may not have exceptional grade point averages, have overcome obstacles in their lives and persevered in spite of them. This may not be reflected in grade point averages or extracurricular participation at school.
·         We wanted to recognize that there are students who are active outside of school who may not be recognized on the basis of school related activities and to allow them to apply for recognition.

Please know that we are trying to grow and to be more relevant.  It’s a big job, and we’re making it bigger daily.  We do hope that this prompts more ideas, suggestions or questions.  We do value your partnership, collaboration and understanding.   
If you are unable to attend the January 13 meeting, please feel free to email any comments.
Julie Thompson
Livonia PTSA Council President