Thursday, June 5, 2014

What No One Tells You About Being PTA President Part I

It Doesn't Sound That Hard

Last Spring I made a fateful decision that I eventually regretted. In my defense, I was in Hawaii at the time, and in such a relaxed state that it seemed that anything was possible. What was the decision? I decided I would be take on the position as President of the PTA at my daughters school. There were two reasons that I had considered it, the first being that I really believe that the PTA enhances the student experience, and the second being that no one was willing to take the job. My husband thought I could handle it, so I sent an email off to the current president stating that if no one was willing to do the job that I would do it.

Perhaps the fact that no one was willing to do this job should have given me a clue.

The Past Becomes Precedent

I recruited some helpers for school registration day, the day where you try to hustle people to volunteer for unfilled positions, join PTA and sell Spirit Wear. I was prepared for that. I wasn’t prepared for the fact that our PTA apparently provides lunch for the school staff working that day. Luckily our Treasurer was prepared and took care of it.

During Back To School Night I was informed that the PTA always gives each teacher a big container of hand sanitizer. This would have been nice to know about earlier in the summer so I could have ordered this and not ended up scouring every Wal-Mart across the county to get enough bottles. Also, why the crap is the PTA supplying hand sanitizer to the teachers? Shouldn’t the principal make sure his staff has the supplies they need to do their jobs? I was also handed a list of teachers who needed floor fans for their rooms. It turned out that last year the PTA had purchased a few fans for teachers who had extremely hot rooms during the last few weeks of school, and it morphed into the PTA supplying fans for everyone. A few months later I even got a request to replace someone’s fan that was broken! Half of our teacher appreciation budget was spent before school even started.

I learned that if you do something once, the expectation comes that you will do it every time.

Tranquilizers are a PTA Presidents Best Friend

After a series of unfortunate events, including an exploding casserole dish, a leaking disposal and a complete inability to focus, I found myself in my doctors office, crying as I explained that I just couldn’t handle things anymore. I rarely cry, and this was only three weeks into the school year. The doctor suggested that maybe someone else should be the president, and I sobbed as I explained that no one was willing to do it and I was stuck with it. I left his office with a prescription for two anti-depressants and a tranquilizer. Without those meds, I don’t think I would have made it through the year. I was able to stop panic attacks from coming, and just chill out. This was especially handy the day that I found out the book fair chairperson was on a trip to Disneyland and I needed to run the book fair. I managed to get through that without it being a major fiasco.

Several of our local Presidents ended up on medication. I think it takes a certain type of person to handle this job without cracking up, and it turns out that I am not that person.

You Start Sneaking into School the Back Way

I got to a point during the school year that I would bypass the office when I went into the school because I was tired of getting bombarded with requests to fund things or provide volunteers for something. I even considered getting putting on a disguise.

Advance Notice? Hah

“By the way, vision screening is tomorrow. You need to get 8 parent volunteers.” “Picture day is tomorrow, we need 3 volunteers.” These are things that had dates planned in advance, and if I had been given these dates in advance I wouldn’t have had to scramble at the last minute for volunteers.

People Avoid You

All of a sudden people don’t answer the phone when you call and turn the other way when they see you coming. It’s like they know that you’re going to ask them to chair the school carnival or run Anti-Bully Week.

You Need a Smartphone

I don’t see how anyone did this job before the iPhone. It didn’t take me long to figure out that if it wasn’t in my phone calendar with notifications set, it wasn’t going to happen. Facebook is the fastest and easiest way to get last minute volunteers and make announcements. Text messaging was invaluable as a means of communication. Seriously, how did people do this job before Smartphone?

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