by Jeannette Gano
photography by Summer Herndon
What would elementary school days be without bookfairs, carnivals, assemblies, classroom parties and candy sales? Without one essential organization, these activities may not be possible. Without the Parent Teacher Association, elementary school would probably be about the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic.
The PTA is responsible for the countless activities that go on throughout the school year. Without it, there may not be carnival dunk tanks or sack races; there may not be assemblies with school mascots handing out special awards to students; and there may not be the special memories these extracurricular activities bring to young children every year.
Oak Mesa Elementary School’s PTA is an outstanding association which is made up of more than 75 mothers, teachers and the school’s principal, Tom Milligan.
Throughout the year, the association is responsible for numerous events — including two major fund raisers, the open house to display students’ work and accomplishments, two book fairs, a carnival, the compilation of a yearbook throughout the year and a character assembly every other month.
This group shares with the District, as well as the city of La Verne, a huge role in the acquisition of new playground equipment for the school. The PTA provides services such as making identification cards with a child’s fingerprint and identification bracelets for those who would like to purchase them.
In addition to its existing list of tasks, the association also supplies prizes and gifts for “owl ticket” drawings to reward children who have demonstrated good behavior. The PTA assures that books are provided as gifts to children on their individual birthdays.
At Oak Mesa, Debbie Powell is the current PTA president. She has held the position since last year and is a representative for the Bonita Council PTA.
Presently, the association at Oak Mesa consists of nine officers and an executive board. Each member is assigned to a committee and must follow through with his or her specific duties. These committees may include anything from disaster preparedness, to health and safety, to the yearbook.
Says Milligan, “Our PTA is atypical; it is in the top 10 percent in the state.” He says he feels lucky to have responsible and conscientious parent involvement at the school.
Oak Mesa’s PTA is indeed organized and efficient, and it holds monthly meetings in the school’s multi-purpose room. Among those in attendance at the meetings are PTA members, the principal and two teacher representatives from each of the school’s grade levels.
During meetings, officers begin by reviewing minutes from the previous meeting; they then update the budget and check on committee progress. In addition, questions or problems at-hand are addressed, and ideas and suggestions for the matters are shared by those present.
As president of the association, Powell’s main responsibilities concentrate on running the meetings, establishing the agenda for each meeting, and delegating each meeting to assure that matters progress according to plan. Aside from school duties, she also cares for her family. Powell has two children who attend Oak Mesa, in the first and fourth grades. She says she became involved with the PTA in order to gain personal awareness, to be a part of the “goings on,” and to help enhance the education of all children at the school.
“The PTA gets incredible support from the teachers, and our principal is one in a million. He is supportive of everything we do,” she says. Powell adds that one of the PTA’s main goals includes getting things directly into the classrooms in order to really affect education.
The association is working to provide full sets of dictionaries, consumable workbooks and pull-down maps for each classroom. Currently, however, its primarily focus is toward supporting the school’s upper grade level classrooms that support up to 34 students in each class.
Principal Milligan says that Oak Mesa would be quite different without the help and involvement of parents and teachers in this association. He feels the activities they provide adds to the school climate and culture.
“The extra curricular activities give the children the chance to apply what they have learned,” says Milligan.