Showing posts with label school. Show all posts
Showing posts with label school. Show all posts

Supporting My School in My Own Way

Monday, August 22, 2011

*This post is sponsored by Volunteer Spot

I've always thought I don't have it in me to be a Room Mom or on the PTO. As anal and organized as I can be, I don't feel I have the time to be quite that available throughout the school year. Oddly, just last week I was offered a chance to apply for a position on the fundraising committee. On one hand, I think it would be something different to do and a new challenge. It would be a way to help the school bring in funds. It would look good on a resume.

But, I'm torn. It would take a lot of my time. If I do decide I'm going to do the 3 Day, I'd hate to accept the position and then neglect it as the training intensifies. I'm also not sure I'm PTO Mom material if you know what I mean. There's also my vision board. If I take on another project, how will it effect my other goals?

And, let's be real. If I'm being 100% honest? There are days I really enjoy not having my kid around. Do I really want to spend so much time on campus around other people's? It's definitely something to think about. I'm flattered to be considered and I'll definitely weigh all my options before I decide.

For most school districts, it seems like it all boils down to money, money, money. As much as we'd love to, we can't donate the $250 our school asks for each year and participate in all the fundraisers, dine outs, the carnival and stock the classroom with supplies. There are times I feel like we should just leave a stack of blank checks in the school office!

I know schools are hurting, funds and programs are being cut, and many families aren't in a position to buy all the supplies they need. We wish we could do more. But there's only so much in our coffers. I really do try to help the school, Tyler's teachers and the brave souls who take on the Room Parent title. For me, giving my time is just as important as giving money. I hope Tyler's new teacher has some of the same types of classroom activities his last teacher did because I was able to help out in ways that made sense for us.

Secret Reader
I really loved her Secret Reader activity. We parents signed up to bring in one of our favorite childhood books to read on a Friday afternoon. All week long the kids would get one clue per day to try to guess who's parent would be coming in. I read a few stories from the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle Treasury. After class lots of the kids told me they'd never heard of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle but they loved the ones I read and wanted to look for the books at the library. That was a great feeling!

I also helped out as class Photographer. I went to the room parties and a few of the school activities to take pictures. I put them all on a flash drive and gave it to the room parent for her to pass along to the yearbook committee.

Class Parties
I sent in lots of food throughout the year but my favorite contributions were for Valentine's Day and after the kids had a lesson on American Indians. For the Valentine party, we had to bring in pink or red foods. I was worried the kids would think I was a party pooper but knew there would be a ton of junk and I wanted to offer something a little healthy. I served strawberry yogurt with raspberry granola in pink Dixie cups. Some of the kids came back for thirds! For the Indian Feast, the kids were to ask us if they could bring in the dish they loved to eat most at home. I took in big batch of chili.

We collect Boxtops for Education religiously! Tyler's school turns it into a competition and winning classrooms get to have some type of party each semester. I'm not (too) ashamed to admit I've ripped a Boxtop off packaging from my neighbors' recycle bins.

I also buy supplies all year long when they're on sale, buy teacher gifts and contribute items for the Halloween Carnival raffle. This year, if Tyler's teacher plans any type of computer or online lesson I want to volunteer to talk to the class about internet safety and privacy.

Those are a few of the things I do to help our school in my own way. How about you? Did you participate in anything fun I can share with Tyler's new teacher?


I SUPPORT MY SCHOOL... MY WAY! And I’m joining VolunteerSpot’s sponsored Back To School campaign to help raise visibility for parent involvement in schools. 

Save time {and sanity} and get more parents involved at school with! 
VolunteerSpot's FREE online signup sheets make it easy to organize parents and signup to help for just about anything: classroom helpers, snack schedules, carnivals, library volunteers, parent-teacher conferences and more....  No more 'Reply-All' email chains or clipboard sign up sheets! Please share Volunteer Spot with your room mom, teachers and parent leaders.
There is also a huge Sweepstakes on VolunteerSpot's Facebook page! Win $500 worth of school supplies for YOUR School! Enter here

Follow the conversation on Twitter to see how other parents are supporting their schools. #MySchoolMyWay

Four Ways to Raise Money for Schools

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This post is sponsored by Welch's Harvest Grants

Drawing competition for school kids
photo © 2009 Simply CVR | more info (via: Wylio)

Last year, our school started an initiative hoping to get each family to contribute $250 per student to help offset the costs of school programs. They must not have had as many donations as they needed because I got an email two weeks ago that the PE program for 3rd grade is going to be cut. Honestly, how many more things are our children going to have to lose?!

I know this economy isn't helping. Combined with the costs of school clothes, after school activities, field trips, year books, teacher gifts throughout the year and donating supplies to the classroom, that amount of money probably isn't doable for many families.

We try to support Tyler's school whenever we can. We haven't written our own $250 check, but we go to as many of the PTO events as we can and I'm religious about collecting Boxtops. One time when I was at Costco, one of the sampling events was using zipper bags. There was a pile of empty boxes with Boxtops on them. I stood there looking at them and thought "could I? Should I?" before I  chickened out and walked away.

Since my last post about the education system and schools, I've been keeping my eye out for affordable and practical ways we can all help our children's schools:
Many office supply stores offer incentives for teachers in addition to their customer rewards programs. I used a Staples rebate to buy free paper and donated it to the classroom.  Those types of offers are available all the time and definitely help offset the costs of all the supplies the teachers need.

It's sad the extent that families are having to step in to fill the gaps in our schools. I can only imagine how I'd feel if our financial situation were different and we weren't able to do anything above and beyond sending Tyler in every day. 

I don't know what has to happen before our educational system will get back on track. I fear it will have to get even worse before it will get better. And that? Is really, really scary.

Do you have any other ways schools can raise funds or families can get cheap or free supplies for the classroom?


This post was sponsored by Welch's Harvest Grants:
Last year, schools across the nation were invited to apply for one of 100 grants to start their own school garden. Five schools would receive $1000 grants and 95, $500 grants. Welch's had almost 7,000 entries! I didn't apply because our school already has a garden but I think it's fabulous that so many people got involved. Congratulations to the winners!

*I think School Deals is, so far, only local to San Diego. Check all sites to see if they are in your city.

Affiliate links have been used. This is a sponsored, compensated post but the opinions are mine.

Disparity Between Schools

Friday, October 29, 2010

This is sponsored post from Welch's Healthy Harvest but the opinions are entirely my own.

Are you watching School Pride? I just caught up on the first two episodes and I am horrified. And embarrassed. I know educators need help updating their classroom materials, keeping arts programs and keeping their quality teachers from moving to other districts. I also know that, when it comes to urban versus suburban and socioeconomic factors, there are huge disparities as to where money goes and how much certain districts get.

When we bought our house it was a compromise and, to me, a little bit of a sacrifice. We chose a fixer-upper condo in a nice area over a detached house somewhere else. We paid a little too much. The area we live in is kind of expensive in general. But, we wanted to be in this part of the city for the schools. That was criteria number one. We know we made the right choice. 

We've been very happy overall with Tyler's school. The students have a computer lab as well as computers in the classrooms. They still have PE class. The library is well stocked. The lunch program is better than most. The kids get to grow and eat things from the science garden. Our Halloween carnival? Looked like a county fair. We have on-site before and after care for working parents. I know how lucky we are.

But I'm embarrassed that I didn't really know how bad some of our nation's schools are. When I thought of the kind of conditions some kids were attempting to learn in I pictured run down buildings, no buses, no after school programs and not enough sports equipment. I was not picturing mice, rats, roaches, no paper towels or hand soap, playgrounds overrun with gopher holes, mold and general decay. Knowing our school has so much when others have so little makes me feel a little pampered, if that makes sense.

It was ironic that, while I was watching the show, someone I follow on Twitter mentioned that she was at her child's school earlier in the day and got to see all the kids working on their own iPads. The School Pride host was asking a junior high student how they play basketball with only one deflated ball and a broken backboard while someone else's first graders have their own iPads. Incredible. 

Well, my eyes have definitely been opened. I'll be paying more attention to legislation that effects schools and helping promote companies and causes that offer schools opportunities to apply for things that will enrich their student's educational experience like Welch's Harvest Grants program. I'm not quite ready to join the PTO but I'll definitely be looking at how our school uses its funds.

Singer John Legend was quoted recently as saying the state of education "is the Civil Rights movement of our time." If the first episodes of School Pride are any indication of what we can expect to see, I think he's absolutely right.


-From now until February 11, 2011, schools can apply for one of 100 grants to start their own garden. 
-Five schools will receive $1000 and 95 will receive $500. 
-Grants will include seeds and tools.
Pass on the information to your teachers and administrators!

*I am being compensated for this post but the opinions on the state of schools and the incredulity and disgust that some children have to try to learn with roaches at their feet is all mine. Photo credit belongs to me.

Am I Overreacting? Advice Needed

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I want to write a letter to Tyler's school but I want your opinion in case I'm making mountains out of molehills.

Tyler has been going to his school since kindergarten. On our first back to school night, his kindergarten teacher told us the school has a policy against sending junk food and candy in lunches. We were also not to send in sweets to celebrate birthdays. His teacher this year reiterated the point saying the school has really cracked down on the birthday treats and asked that if we want to celebrate we send in pencils or some other trinket.

This is an excerpt from the school's Policy and Procedures section on their website:
Students may eat a snack at the beginning of their morning recess and we encourage some type of healthy food, rather than what we refer to as “extra” foods, such as chips and cookies.

In accordance with this policy, we do not celebrate birthdays in classrooms with candy, cakes, cupcakes and sodas. Food and drinks are allowed at other celebration events, however they must follow the [school district] Food and Beverage Guidelines.
I haven't had a problem with either of these policies. I agree with both ad have tried to uphold them . I keep Tyler's lunch relatively junk free. I don't pick out the chocolate pieces in the trail mix and I have sent in Nilla Wafers or Teddy Grahams. I've never sent anything in for his birthday, trinket or otherwise. But, hearing the teacher strongly emphasize the point again at the same time the school brought back Popsicle Friday kinda pissed me off.

We parents can't send anything "extra" to school in an effort to keep the kids healthy, but the PTO can sell popsicles in front of the school every week? And don't even get me started on the crap the PTO allows at the Friday Assembly coffee cart.

I call Bullshit.  

It's not that I want to see Doritos and candy on school grounds every day. I'd also rather the kids get one small cookie or cupcake on a birthday rather than have any more of the Party City junk continue to clutter up Tyler's room (though I do realize multiplying one cookie by 30+ birthdays can easily equal sugar overload).

But, if the school is going to create a written policy asking me not to send in sweets, why should their on campus fund raising be exempt? Two weeks ago I bought a popsicle for Tyler just to see if at least they were selling sugar free ones. Maybe some were but not the kind I bought*.

I don't want to be the buzzkill who put an end to fun on campus but it feels like a blatant double standard. So, am I making too much of this? Should I let it go or send a note to the principal? 

What issues have prompted you to write a letter to your child's school?

*My frustration could also be over Popsicle Friday itself. I think Tyler has only had two because I always say no. I look like the ass who won't let her kid have any treats, which I'm OK with. But I've caught him sneaking money to school and that bothers me. I know I said I'd let up and be more of a yes mom, but I just don't think he needs the 'extra' sugar. There's plenty in his juice boxes, granola bars, fruit leather, peanut butter/jelly etc. etc.

Wordless Wednesday: Crazy Hair Day

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy New School Year: Nestle Family Prize Package {Giveaway}

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

***Contest closed. Thank you all for entering!***

We're so happy with the way Tyler has adjusted to being back at school. He was worried he wouldn't like his teacher and that the work would be too hard. But, he loves his teacher and so far he's doing fine. I told myself that this year I will be more involved with with his class. I volunteered when he was in kindergarten but didn't end up helping much last year.

There was an issue with one of the moms who helped test the kids on their spelling words and I wasn't aware of it until mid way through the school year. I don't want something like that to happen again so I want to make my presence known. Plus, it can't hurt to make friends with his teacher (squeaky wheel and all that).

I've told Tyler many times that when it comes to school and his education, he'll get out of it what he puts into it. I think that's true for us parents too, at least while our kids are "new" students. I can see a difference in the kids who seem to have support and involvement at home and those who don't.

This year seems to have a lot riding on it. The kids have to learn twice as much as they did last year. Phil and I are Tyler's best advocates. It's up to us to create an environment where he can not only thrive, but excel and hopefully develop a lifelong love of learning. And for that, we need to be right there with him, every step of the way.

Win It!

What about you? Have you resolved to do anything new or different this school year? Have your kids? Leave the answer in the comments.

One winner will receive a Nestle Happy New School Year prize package with coupons and recipes for Nestle products*.
Nestle Family is supporting parents and Kids' resolutions to make this school year great with a sweepstakes that could win you $5,000 and your school a $2,000 literacy grant.

To enter (please read all the rules):

1. Leave a comment on this post answering the question above. This is required.

2. I MUST have a way to get in touch with you! I will have to delete comments with no contact info.

3. This contest will be open until Friday, September 25th. Comments will close on at 11:59pm CA time.

4. I will use to draw the winner and post the results/notify winner via email. (US only, I'm sorry!)

5. For two extra entries: (not required) Tweet, and/or blog about this contest and leave each of your links in a separate comment (three contest entry opportunities total). You will need a free Twitter account.

6. You do not have to follow me on Twitter, follow this blog or subscribe to this blog as a method of entry. Tweet as often as you like, but only one Tweet will count as an extra entry. Leave one comment for each entry method. Here is the URL to this post:

7. *Nestle is sponsoring this giveaway. The prize package is awarded in the form of free product coupons that the PR company will mail to the winner. To enter the $5,000 Ready, Set, School giveaway, go to the Nestle Family site. My contest is not affiliated with their sweepstakes.

Summer Learning: What Are You Doing with Your Kids?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Not too long before school ended I was talking with Tyler's teacher and she said nine of the sweetest and scariest words a parent can hear before summer vacation,

"I'm running out of things to challenge him with."

On the one hand we're so proud because it means he's doing really well in school but on the other it means I have to keep up the momentum over the summer and make sure he doesn't lose interest or forget what he's learned so far.

My mom used to make me read pages from the dictionary and encyclopedia over summer. I hated it, but can definitely see the value now. I bought Tyler a second grade workbook, we're participating in the summer reading challenges from
Borders and Barnes & Noble, and Jump Start sent a learning game and gave me a membership to their online virtual world for kids (review coming soon).

My question for you (maybe my teacher friends can weigh in): Is that enough? Is there something more I should be doing? I don't want to over schedule study time or make it a chore, but I won't let him sit in front of the TV all day either. What are you doing to further your kids' education this summer?
Desk photo from here

I Give, and I Give...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Something happened at school last week that I'm still chuffed about. I was going to write a letter to the principal, but thought I may be overreacting. Here's the scene:

I'm dropping DS off at school. Everyone has to sign in before going on campus. The head of the PTO is in the office discussing the latest fund raiser that took place the previous Saturday. It was a dinner dance with a silent auction. I think tickets were in the $25 per person range. We didn't go.

So, someone asks PTO Mom how it went. She says not so good, hardly anyone came, no one was bidding, they hardly raised money etc.

Then she says this, "C'mon people, this is your kids school. Don't you care? [Another school] had this same event and they raised thousands of dollars."

It's not what she said that bothered me, but how. Her tone was so... indignant and bitchy.

I can't tell you how many times this year I've been to Wal Mart carrying yet another letter from the teachers begging (their word) for supplies.

I've bought wrapping paper I don't need, gifts for Teacher's birthday, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Teacher Appreciation Week and the most recent request that came home yesterday for $10-20 for an end of the year gift.

There have been science projects, book fairs, pizza parties, scoop night at the yogurt shop and school pictures. We bought and filled a backpack with school supplies for the underprivileged at the beginning of the year. And I spent $6 on a fridge magnet with one of the lamest pieces of artwork my kid has ever done.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to help when I can. Schools are horribly neglected and teachers are pathetically underpaid. Schools need help.

But listening to PTO Mom complain that we parents aren't doing enough for the school really pissed me off. She may have no problem filling her Mercedes but perhaps the rest of us don't have access to magic wallets.

And I think it was totally inappropriate and tacky of her to say such things out in the open where parents could hear (which would have been my main point to the principal).

The school year ends in a few weeks. I'm over the donating and I would hazard a guess that by now, many other families are too. If this event was so important, perhaps she should have scheduled it in the beginning of the year before all the donation requests and fund raisers went from cute to annoying.

Am I just being touchy? Should I have sent a letter to the principal?
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