The sun’s coming up just a little bit later. The leaves are well into changing colors. You can see your breath in your morning. Fall is here and the start of a great school year has begun.
The South Shore Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) has already has a busy start. The Back to School BBQ was a great success. The building staff helped host us and we had an excellent turnout of families, staff, teachers and community supporters. The Center for Ethical Leadership donated monies to help us pay for the food and City Year participants gave of their time. PTSA parents and supporters volunteered their time and energy to coordinate the whole event.
We've already had one Coffee Chat and attendance was so good we had to set a couple more rows of chairs. If you haven't been before, our PTSA parent team is continuing the tradition of hosting a time to meet each other and hear more about what is going on in the school and community. These will take place just after the second Friday assembly of each month.
The PTSA board already had its planning retreat over the summer and we’re getting ready for our first PTSA General Membership meeting from 5:30 - 7:30 on October 8th. Our meetings will be the 2nd Tuesday of each month through the end of the school year. In even numbered months, our meetings will be in the evening and include a meal. In odd numbered months, our meetings will take place after school. If you haven’t already been to a PTSA meeting - or haven't been for a while - there’s some good reasons to start attending and to join PTSA or renew your membership.
At our retreat, we clarified our primary intentions:
● Building community: This is core to our work together. South Shore isn’t just a collection of people that come and do their own thing independently of one another, but an interdependent community that’s built of our relationships, gifts, interests and hopes. South Shore’s interdependence is bigger than what happens within its walls, too. What happens within our walls has an effect on our neighborhood, city, state and beyond. What happens in all those settings effects what happens at South Shore. This year, we’re going to continue to help build the relationships among those directly related to South Shore but you’re also going to hear more about growing relationships with organizations and people beyond our walls, too. We all need each other.
● Advocating for equity: It's no secret that schools in different parts of the city and state have more access to financial, structural and social resources than does ours. It’s no secret that different families, teachers and staff in our school have different kinds of access to financial, structural and social resources, too. Taking the intention to build community seriously means that we have to work to address the inequities between us and the systems of
inequity that surround us. We’re not so bold to think that, by the end of the year, we’ll have it all fixed. By the end of the year, we’ll have expanded on the advocacy work done in previous years and begin new work, too.
● Fundraising as a bridge to equity: We recognize that advocating for equity and building community are long term commitments and, in the meantime, we’ll continue to focus on fundraising that will help bridge the gap towards equity. We’ll continue to work with the students, teachers and staff of the school to help support and initiate fundraising efforts that will make a difference in our school. Keep your ear open for new things we’re trying and new ways of supporting this work. One great example? The PTSA has raised monies by selling shirts and other materials with a design on them that reflects our identity and values. This year, the kids are being asked to come up with that design. You can learn more about that here.
We know we have some significant realities to sort through. We come from many different backgrounds, cultures and experiences. We don’t yet have the language and translation support we need that allows everyone to participate to the extent they could otherwise. We have many different ways of looking at the world and part of our work includes making sure we take the time to understand each other a little bit better. The time we have to share with the wider community is directly related to our family's financial realities.
But, to look at these realities only as "challenges" or "problems" would miss the point. These realities are part of our giftedness. Other schools don’t have these same opportunities for community building. Not all schools have the opportunity to learn from each other in the same way we do. Not all schools have the opportunity to live into a global view of the world every moment of every day. We do and these are the things that make us strong. As we learn to address them together and, yes, sometimes struggle together we will continue to be a more resilient community; a gift to our children that - if we do it well - will positively impact their whole lives.
These commitments may seem bold but the love we have for our children, the children of this school, and the wider community is what makes us bold. If you find this love stirring something in you, come join us next Tuesday or at any of the times we’re together. We look forward to seeing you, meeting you and finding out what we might do together.
Sanithia Parker and Mike Denton PTSA Co-Presidents