Rochester Community PTA Council Gets National Award
(Rochester Community Schools Press Release, March 5, 2016)
Rochester, MI – The Rochester Community PTA Council was recognized with the Outstanding Local PTA Advocacy Award from the National PTA for improving the well-being of students in its own 21 schools, and for providing leadership for children’s issues across the state of Michigan.
The advocacy award will be presented at the 2016 National PTA Legislative Conference on March 9, in Arlington, Va. Representing Rochester and accepting the award are Samantha Phillips, president of the Rochester Community PTA Council, and Barb Anness, legislative representative to the Rochester Community PTA Council.
“Our advocacy efforts have been impactful, because we blend parental passion and community involvement,” Phillips said. “We stir up public policy discussion to support kid-centered initiatives that directly address their needs. As a group, we are raising our collective voices to make sure kids count.”
The Rochester Community PTA Council was awarded for its targeted advocacy efforts in these three areas:
Leadership in Legislative Issues: The council empowered its already existing legislative committee to become more active by engaging parents in local legislative updates that were previously seen as intimidating and difficult to understand. Committee members follow issues related to children and public education; they release position papers; and they outline steps for voters and citizens to take a more active role in legislation.
Additionally, the district passed a $185 million bond proposal in November 2015, which will fund critical infrastructure and technology needs for the 15,000 students it serves and will enhance the learning environment for generations of students.
Leadership in Student Safety: The council created an RCS Safe Routes to School team that partnered with state and national Safe Routes programs to make some swift and immediate safety improvements. These include the creation of school-based carpools and walking groups; improving visibility of student cross walks; working with city officials and law enforcement to adjust traffic lights and signage based on school-traffic and parking lot concerns; rethinking bus routes, bus loops, and bus-stops to improve student safety; and teaming up with municipalities to enact ongoing safety measures for kids.
Leadership in Mental Health and Wellness for Children: Recognizing the increasing stress experienced by students of all ages, the council created several initiatives to balance academic success with mental health and wellness for its students. These include: a district-wide mindfulness program that will teach students coping and breathing strategies; an active health and wellness committee that provides family enrichments related to teen suicide prevention, balance, and related topics; health and wellness informational fairs for elementary students; disability awareness workshops that familiarize students with mental health challenges; and willingness to engage teachers and administrators in discussions about study strategies that reduce stress for students.
“Congratulations to the Rochester Community PTA Council as they work to shape public conversation and advocate for the benefit of our students,” said Robert Shaner, Ph.D., superintendent of Rochester Community Schools. “Working together, we can continue to do great things for our children.”
“The Rochester PTA Council’s commitment to serving our children is truly commendable,” said Pat Piskulich, Ph.D., president of the RCS Board of Education. “We are proud to be able to work with such an outstanding group of parent leaders who are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of our students.”
More information about National PTA Advocacy Awards and efforts can be found at: www.pta.org/advocacy/.
The Rochester Community PTA Council is a coalition of PTA groups from each of the 21 schools in the Rochester Community Schools district. The council addresses district-wide issues that affect students and children, including health and welfare, enrichment, and legislation. They meet regularly at schools throughout the district. For more information, please visit: www.rochester.k12.mi.us/pages/366/pta-council.