People Are Always Thanking You
People kept thanking me for all the stuff PTA did for the school. The problem was, I felt (and still feel) like I was the worst PTA President that our school has ever had. I cancelled quite a few programs, made a few decisions without any input, and basically did the minimum that I could get away with. I felt so phony when people would thank me.
You Are the Backup
If someone doesn’t show up for something, the President has to either find someone else to do it or fill in herself. This is how I ended up running a book fair, putting together teacher wish lists, and attempting to scale back the amount of prizes we handed out to students.
You Never Know What is a Sacred Cow
The previous year our PTA had 6 t-shirt options, two of which I personally thought were hideous. The t-shirt committee of myself and one volunteer made the decision to sell off what we had left and only order one t-shirt style and one zip up jacket style. No one complained directly to me, but I heard about it from the previous board. It appeared that anytime I made a decision someone didn’t agree with it and would complain. But never to me, making me wonder how many people were upset with it, and how many people didn’t care.
My daughters school is a great school, and the principal and staff were fairly easy to work with. I have friends who had much worse experiences than I did, and I thanked my lucky stars that I didn’t have to deal with those issues. What we all have in common is we are not volunteering for any PTA positions the following year. We’re actually moving to a brand new school that has a brand new, as of yet not set-up PTA, and I have no intention of signing up to do anything other than occasionally helping in the classroom. I know that I have valuable experience that could help out the new PTA, but I also know that I cannot handle another year of being in charge of anything.
You will do anything for Box Tops. I have actually boosted my kid into recycling bins to grab Box Tops off of cereal boxes. I have my family members and neighbors that don’t have kids in school saving Box Tops for me. At church events I will check the garbage can for Box Tops. I pulled Labels for Education out of a campfire. Being PTA President made me realize how little money our schools get to operate, and how desperately we need any source of revenue we can find.
Dealing With Parents
You discover the easiest way to get someone to shut up is to try to get them to head up a committee. Nothing shuts up a parent like asking them to head up Red Ribbon Week. We had students begging us to do a nerd dress up day during anti-bully week, so we did. The kids and teachers loved it. We had the most interesting spread of nerd concepts that I have ever seen, including a second grade boy who thought dressing like a nerd was having his snow pants hanging down like baggy pants. My kid wore a shirt with a picture of Captain Kirk on it that I made her especially for the occasion. By all accounts it was a successful day, other than the parent complaints that started pouring in. None of the complaints related to anyone having made fun of another kid, they were all about “how do you explain what a nerd is to a 7-year-old?” None of the parents who complained had ever attended a PTA meeting, no one expressed any concerns about the dress up concept until after it happened. And none of these parents took us up on our offers to come to the meetings and discuss things directly, or be involved in planning the next dress up concept.
The next year we tried to make sure no one could get upset about anything, and then the parents complained that the dress up days were too repetitive and not creative enough! And they still didn’t come to meetings, or give any helpful feedback.