The Windham Parent Teacher Association is getting a much needed shot of adrenaline this year with a new board ready to dig into traditional programs like the Cultural Reflections contest and new programs like the Valentine’s Day Project, where primary school children purchased flowers for their favorite teachers and wrote messages.
The Windham PTA covers kindergarten to 12th grade and is only for Windham Schools. Raymond has a PTO.
The new officers are Amanda Wotton, president; Melanie Keary, vice president; Nicole Foster, secretary; and Chelsea Sperry, treasurer.
“We were all voted in in December. We’re ready to revitalize the Windham PTA and make more of a presence in the community,” said Wotton.
The group has already started to create new programs that will bring in money to help with future programs. The Valentine’s Day project raised $260.
The association is not under the direction of the school department like a PTO. They work closely with the schools to help provide support and grants for little extras like trips and equipment.
The former board had been serving for more than 10 years and was ready for a break, even if that meant dissolving the association. They needed an infusion of new ideas. The new board wanted to thank them for their service. Julie Frost, Windham PTA secretary for 9 years, Lori Witherow, president for 11 years and Pam Clinch, treasurer for 11 years.
“We will uphold and honor the traditions that the former PTA had and add to things and keep doing what has been working while modernizing it,” said Foster.
The members of the PTA would like to see more of the community and staff get involved. With fewer than 60 members and approximately 10 that attend meetings consistently, the group needs more manpower.
“Some parents are super involved in PTA and they are the same ones involved in everything else. When parents hear PTA, they think it must be huge,” said Wotton. “We want to increase the number of members that are participating.”
“We are still here, stepping up. Sub-committees are still being formed,” said Foster.
“It’s real moms and dads. I want to be more inclusive of the entire community, not just be a bank for grants. We are a service and resource for parents,” said Wotton.
“I know it’s a great place to meet other parents, vent to other parents and not be judged,” said Wotton, who has four children. It doesn’t have to be a big commitment, it could be making a few phone calls or making copies.
Since December the group has donated snow pants for a child who didn’t have any and provided a grant for Little Backpackers. The total the PTA has given away in grants so far this year is $3,300 and $750 grants for seniors. Their goal is to raise $5,000 yearly.
The largest fundraiser for the PTA has always been in the fall when the primary and Manchester School students sell wrapping paper or local products, although the products and companies have varied over the years. This year the PTA is taking pitches from new companies.
Another fundraiser generates half of the proceeds for the PTA with community dinners at places like Applebee’s, Friendlys and Summit Adventures with a coupon, said Foster.
The first week in May will be staff appreciation week at all of the Windham schools. In addition to the teachers, there are all of the support staff and 41 bus drivers that the PTA will honor. The PTA is looking for volunteers to provide donations.
“The type of donations we'll be seeking in addition to any gift cards for goods and services. Those gift cards will be divided between the four schools for daily teacher drawings as "door prizes" for the week (with the three teachers who are PTA members being entered twice),” Foster said. There will also be a traditional ice cream social for the WMS teachers and a dessert day following a luncheon at WHS, she added.
“We need to have support from the parents and teachers,” said Foster. And the parents and teachers want support from the PTA. The PTA would also like feedback from teachers about what they’d like to see the association do.
“It’s always nice to have other ideas and input,” said Sperry. The group is allowing children to be at the business meetings and planning activities for them to encourage more parent participation.
“We’re taking it slow and being responsible in our growth,” Foster said.
Membership in the Windham PTA is $10 for the full year from April 1, 2015 to August 1, 2016.
Membership also provides discounts at Staples and puts parents on a special listserve. The Windham PTA can be found on Facebook and can be emailed at WindhamMainePTA@gmail.com.