The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 2, 2013

Parents step up

Involvement in school benefits pupils, aids administrators, teachers and staff

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Hayes Elementary School’s active parental involvement benefits everyone — students, faculty and administration.

Jane Johnson, principal of Hayes Elementary, said not only are a good number of parents active participants in Parent Teacher Association but those same parents step up to the plate as volunteers when the school is short-handed, doing such tasks as helping serve lunch.

“At the beginning of the year parents sign up for what they are interested in doing,” Johnson said. “We kind of let them run with what they do best, so they don’t have a lot of meetings and such.”

Amy Finnegan, president of the Hayes PTA, said when the school needs a volunteer, she sends out an email letting PTA members know and someone who can pitch in will step up to the plate.

The strong element of parental involvement at the school also helped the school attain the Silver Award in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s HealthierUS School Challenge. Part of the criteria was finding non-food ways to celebrate events instead of handing out cookies and cupcakes.

“I think it’s going over great,” Finnegan said. “I don’t even think the kids miss it. We only have about 30 minutes anyway for a party. … I think it was harder for us to give up the food.”

Even the annual school carnival is done without food.

Johnson noted PTA sends needed items to the school as well as sets up a student store one morning per month where students can buy water bottles, pencils and other Hayes-related items.

“Last year we logged over 1,000 volunteer hours in our building,” Johnson said. “I’m sure this year it’s running the same or maybe a little over.”

A partnership between PTA and Park Avenue Thrift provides arts education from Creative Arts Enid to Hayes fifth-graders.

“Park Avenue Thrift pays for the time, but the PTA pays for the materials,” Finnegan said. “We get the teachers whatever they need.”

PTA bought cameras for student computers this year and is looking at getting iPads for the classrooms.

“Our goal this year is to raise $10,000,” Finnegan said.