Monday, June 24, 2013

National PTA Meeting on Poverty: A Whirlwind Trip to Ohio

In the last few years I have gotten involved in Community Outreach in my school district.  After working for two years at a Title 1 School whereover 85% of the kids are on free and reduced lunch, I was able to see how living in poverty really impacts a child's development from all angles.  The notion of children in poverty face more struggles became illustrated before my very eyes.  Children came to school in tattered, sopping wet clothing.  Children came to school starving because it was a long weekend and they didn't get their free breakfast and lunch, or exhausted because they didn't have their own bed to sleep in.  The idea that those children had to learn the same way my own kids, who had everything handed to them on a silver platter spoke to me.

In my work I've been able to develop a few pretty cool district wide initiatives that have been quite successful at helping meet some kiddos' basic needs.  We've provided winter coats, shoes, and hygiene items.  Because I'm a perfectionist, I still feel like it's not enough and I want to paint a broader stroke and so being chosen to serve on the Emerging Leaders Academy for the State of Texas PTA was what I saw as my first step at taking our local initiatives more globally.

So when I was asked to represent the State of Texas at the National PTA Committee of States Meeting this past week, I jumped through the roof.  I was really excited to see what other states are doing to help their children in poverty, and work with the National PTA in an effort to develop a national standard on supporting and engaging families in poverty.

 National PTA flew me to the very grand and relaxing city of Cincinatti where I spent 10 hours working with men and women from across the country to discuss the problems and potential solutions impacting children in poverty.
 It was really awesome for me to realize that what we've got going on in our local school district is above and beyond the national standard.  I'm so proud of what we've accomplished here in Plano and it was great to see that other states were so eager to learn from us.  It was an eye-opening experience to learn about some of the effective Non Profit organizations that are tackling poverty at the large-scale community level.  While I had a few moments of, "wow, we're doing awesome" I also felt like, "Wow, my city should be doing as much as Seattle or Chicago is....I need to do more....!" 

All in all a great time was had in Ohio...can't complain about staying at a great hotel and an expenses paid get away, but I was really glad to get home to my family after such a daunting task that pulls on the emotions.