I don’t know about you, but as we get to about mid-summer, it seems as though back to school starts creeping up too fast (and then maybe it can’t come quite fast enough)!
As a PTA president and board member, having a successful year starts with having a successful kick off. Preparation is key in any sort of organization, but when you are serving a community of parents and families, their plate is just as full as yours, so giving them (and you) ample time to get all the things done will allow you to successfully begin the new year!
Start Early! I know we don’t want to think about it in the middle of summer, but getting a head start and a plan-of-action for the year will help you stay on task and will lighten your load.
Here are some tips to help your PTA have a successful back to school and set the path so your PTA will have a successful year.
7 Tips to Successfully Getting Back-To-School for Your PTA
1. Update Your PTA Website
Make sure your website is up-to-date. Make your website a one stop shop so families know to visit it throughout the year! Parents will head to your website throughout the summer so take this as an opportunity to push them to your site for all things PTA and community related. Input calendar dates of any events and national/school holidays. Coordinate a day and time you can sit with your school’s office manager to go over your calendar of events–making sure your dates are on the master calendar in the office will make sure everyone is on the same page and easier for planning all the way around.
2. Advertise the Volunteer Needs of Your PTA
There are always some open board and event chair positions to be filled leading up to back to school. Take the summer to post them on your website. As the school year draws near, send out dedicated newsletters or emails highlighting your most important volunteer needs. You can ask your principal to do the same in their communications. Make yourself available to answer any inquiries about the open positions. People like details. Be honest in the job description and the time commitment. Let them know about any support and training that it comes with. What’s great about being a PTA is that there is support from your above council. A lot of parents do not know the ins and outs of PTA and this is a huge benefit for recruiting. If you are a PTO, PTSA or other type of Parent Organization, make sure you make it known that new volunteers can talk to those that have come before them– either past committee chairs or board members that helped run the event in the past. Chances are great that there is always someone that can lend advice on what did and did not work in the past – but they won’t know about it unless you tell them!
GROW YOUR VOLUNTEER BASE WITH THESE EASY-TO-APPLY STEPS!
3. Show Off Your PTA Spirit Wear
Spirit wear is such a fun way to welcome the new school year and get everyone geared up and ready to go! Whether you have a spirit wear shop on your website, or use an outside company, post the link of how to purchase on your homepage along with pictures showing off some of the best items! This will be a great way to jump start sales and create excitement for the new year.
4. Remind Parents What School Supplies are Needed
Parents and students are getting ready to head back to school about a month before it actually starts and nothing gets them more excited than buying school supplies. Make sure that grade level supply lists are easy to find on your website. You can likely get the lists from the teachers in the spring before the prior year ends. Get those lists posted as soon as you get them from your teachers. Once it’s up, it’s one less thing you have to worry about and you can check that off your list.
5. Have a Plan For Your Membership Drive
A new year = new membership! PTA’s new school year starts July 1st so starting your membership drive while parents are purchasing spirit wear and signing up for volunteer opportunities is an easy way to kick off the new school year. Set up your website with links to purchase a membership. Include links in all of your end-of-summer communications so that becoming a member is as easy as a click of a button.
6. Be Prepared for Back-to-School Night
Back to school night is such a biggie, so make sure you are prepared prior to it. Let your community know you are going to be there. Use your social media outlets, website, and newsletters to promote you being live and in person (yay!). Have membership, spirit wear, donation forms, and anything else ready for people to sign up. If you are completely digital, make a QR code to scan and post at your table. Even better, have your teachers share it in their presentation so parents can easily scan while there and be taken directly to your website where they can take care of everything in your one stop shop. If you think it will be easier for people to work on computers, you can set up a station of laptops that are open to your PTA website. Just remember to post reminders for people to ‘Log Out’ before leaving their computer for the next person!
7. Show Your PTA Board Some Love
It is the start of the new year and you are likely excited (and understandably a little overwhelmed) at the thought of all of the important ways your PTA is going to enrich the school this coming year. You have a whole bunch of parent volunteers counting on you to lead them through the year and willing to help you make it great. Start the year off right by thanking them in advance for their time and talents. Consider hosting a simple gathering to bring your board and committee chairs together. This might seem like the last thing you have time for right now but the effort will be worth it! Your board and committee chairs will appreciate the fact that you appreciate them. This will make them more engaged and willing to lend you a hand throughout the year. It also provides a great opportunity for all of these leaders to meet each other (or reconnect with people they haven’t seen in a while). Casual gatherings like this open the doors to friendships between people that have a common goal: making a difference in your parent organization – something that is always good for your PTA. Your gratitude towards them will set the tone for the year and show appreciation of their time.
Recruit the Help of Your PTA Board & Committee Chairs
When all is said and done, a successful back-to-school for any PTA starts and ends with preparation. What you put into your planning is really what will determine your outcome. There is always a long list of to-dos to accomplish as the new school year starts up. But no one or two people should feel the need to accomplish them all. Your board is there for a reason–to work together to get the job done. As long as you create a plan early, and include your board in the plan, the tasks will get done well, on time, and with little or no stress. Give your board members and committee chairs responsibility over their tasks and plenty of notice to ensure a successful start to your PTA’s school year! Your community will then be first-hand witnesses to the success your PTA brings the school which will inspire others to follow your path. Because, believe it or not, you’re not going to be there forever!