Friday, September 22, 2017

You Have to Look Backwards Before You Can Move Forward

Have you ever pulled out of a parking space without looking back first, even if just a little bit? Most of us can probably admit to having done that at some point. If you have and you were lucky, you may have gotten off easy. No accident - just the blaring of a horn and some undesirable hand gestures directed your way.

Looking back is a necessity before setting a car into reverse, and doing so can be equally as important when considering options for the future.

In November, I will have reached the halfway point of my term as president. As I think about the new PTA year ahead, I’ve paused to take that look back before thinking about how to move forward. At Convention 2016, I shared my vision for NYS PTA and some ideas about how to make that vision come into focus. Each of you so graciously added your energy and commitment, and supplied a vast array of fresh ideas that turned a vision into reality. Together we have made a difference and have witnessed some very noticeable progress!

In just one year, we have significantly widened the scope of our impact and expanded the reach of our powerful voice. We’ve changed the way we apply our resources on Lobby Day, having advocates split into smaller groups that deliver our Association's concerns to their own representatives. This targeted approach not only produced a significant increase in the number of legislator meetings, but heightened the quality of the meetings in that the elected officials heard directly from their own constituents.

Virtual Lobby Day has also seen a renovation. Advocacy alerts are now split and delivered to legislators by issue rather than bundled together. This enhancement to an already effective program has generated a 375% increase in the number of emails conveyed to legislators, highlighting the size of NYS PTA and commanding the reception we deserve.

As if that weren’t enough, the new Strategic Alliance Program has presented benefits and opportunities that enhance NYS PTA’s positive impact on the member experience while increasing non-dues revenue on the balance sheet.

A new insurance program, AIM, Inc., provides 24/7 access to our units’ insurance needs, and streamlines the administrative process, freeing up NYS PTA staff resources to address other significant matters.

So much for looking back! All’s clear and we can shift into drive! Looking forward, new initiatives are being implemented and are sure to catch your attention. Our new website is about to be launched. I am confident that you will find it to be an exciting new resource.

New leadership training webinars covering a series of six different topics are scheduled for this school year. The first webinar, "Building Great Relationships with School and District Leadership”, is being held next week. Please consider participating and becoming a part of this exciting new training opportunity.

A new Legislative Summit has been planned to advance our advocacy work, and will be held in February 2018.

Some of these new initiatives include MemberHub sites which facilitate communication between the units and their members, and, which conveniently ensures federal compliance requirements are maintained.

The importance of looking back applies to many aspects of our lives. In the physical world, it can provide safety. In our emotional world, it can elicit good feelings that conjure up nostalgic memories of good times. Here at NYS PTA, we look back and see the sturdy building blocks set in place by our past leadership teams, and even sneak a peek at the not-so-distant past and see the important progress we’ve achieved. The portal to the past gives us a view that can be used to guide us into our future.

Keep up the good work!


Gracemarie Rozea, President
Leading the Way

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Back to School with PTA

Can you remember the first whiff of that unmistakable smell when you opened that brand new yellow and green box at the start of the school year? To this day, the scent of fresh crayons brings back fond memories and vivid images of my own school days.

Parents, focused on dutifully completing a back-to-school mission, might find themselves distracted by the same phenomenon. Purchasing crayons and all of those school supplies can bring to mind a mixed bag of emotions. Some may become teary-eyed at the thought of their first child beginning their educational journey, while others may be dancing for joy after spending many weeks over the summer vacation anticipating a well-deserved break.

Parents, whether this is your first back-to-school or your last, we share with you the hope that the experience will be the best that it can for each of our children. This is a great time to remember that the best way to help ensure that your child’s year will be successful is to become a member of your local PTA!

Speaking of the summer, PTA never stopped buzzing. In addition to the multitude of PTA events and activities that took place across the state, almost 50 members of the New York State PTA Governance Team prepared for the upcoming PTA year! More than 200 leaders came to work on honing their leadership skills, attending nearly 40 different workshops at our Summer Leadership Conference at Utica College. Twelve attendees were hand-picked by a team from Facebook© and sat on a panel designed to discuss the Facebook Parents Portal and the tools and resources that parents of school-age children would find helpful in navigating the digital world.

All volunteer leaders from all around New York took valued time from their families and attended a variety of workshops at the conference so that they would be best prepared to lead their local units and councils. Please join us in thanking them for their commitment to PTA and making the SLC such a successful training experience. And many thanks as well to all who facilitated or supported any of the many PTA events furthering our mission and kept our message out there for all to see.

All of the details related to our upcoming convention in Niagara Falls were finalized during the summer months. Our fantastic Convention Committee has planned a new program with exciting guest speakers, including the 2017 NYS Teacher of the Year Amy Hysick, NYS Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia and Georgia Superior Court Judge Verda Colvin. Convention registration is now open, CLICK HERE to register and see the registration packet. We hope you will join us November 3-5!

And so this week, as many children in New York head back to school, I’d like to wish all of our students a great year! To all of our teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, staff members, bus drivers, crossing guards and all others who work with our students, heartfelt gratitude for your service to our children and youth. It is because of your dedication that these bright stars will become the leaders of tomorrow!


Gracemarie Rozea, President
Leading the Way

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hand in Hand

When someone says ‘hand in hand’, what do you think of? Spaghetti and Meatballs? Peanut Butter and Jelly? Salt and Pepper? Milk and Cookies? So many words have other words associated with them.

But what about PTA? When I relate the expression ‘hand in hand’ to PTA, Advocacy and Membership are the first pair of words that come to mind. Our mission statement is very clear:
PTA is a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for the education and wellbeing of every child.
Over the past few months we have turned up the volume of our voice in both Washington D.C. and Albany. View our Advocacy 2017 video here.

We have spoken with our legislators about many important issues including:
When we speak as representatives of PTA, we are influential because we speak with the voices of hundreds of thousands of our members behind us. It is evident that the connection between Advocacy and Membership is very significant.

You chose to participate in NYS PTA’s Virtual Lobby Day/Week this year and you made a difference. More than 8,000 email messages were sent to legislators at the state and federal levels, and they heard our voice.

The work is not done. The work is never done. Issues that affect each of our communities need to be addressed, and your school’s PTA or Council of PTAs needs to be a voice in how that happens.

Speaking to your principal, school board or superintendent on behalf of the members of your PTA community will make a big difference. The larger your membership number, the louder your voice will be. Your collective voice will help create the best outcomes for all our children.

NYS PTA recently launched our +ONE campaign as an easy way to help membership grow. Click here to read about the campaign. And click here if you’d like to gift a membership.

We have enjoyed some very significant gains because of our collective advocacy efforts. Tremendous potential exists for further progress. Please embrace and promote NYS PTA’s +ONE campaign.

Consider adding Advocacy and Membership to your list of commonly-paired sets of words, as there is no doubt that there is power in numbers. Do what you can to stimulate your unit’s membership effort and enable it to become another tributary that feeds our mighty river of advocacy.


Gracemarie Rozea, President
Leading the Way