Spells out message of teamwork


April 20, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - National Parent Teacher Association CEO Warlene Gary has a basic message to give to West Virginia members of the Parent Teacher Association gathered for their convention this weekend at Lakeview Golf Resort & Spa outside of Morgantown, W.Va.

"We need all hands on deck to take kids to promise," Gary said Thursday during a visit to Eagle School Intermediate in Berkeley County.

Emphasizing the need to help children raised in poverty or in other disadvantaged circumstances, Gary said families and schools need to work together to figure out how to reach every child.

"We can't do that alone."

"Joining PTA affords you the ability to work directly with the schools and your child," Gary said when asked to make a pitch to parents who are not yet members.


"We know if a parent is involved with the child that their achievement will be higher," Gary said.

Gary said her visit to Eagle School on Thursday was an opportunity to see what's working and what's not working "on the ground."

In taking part in a brief reception in the school's library, principal Margaret F. Kursey told Gary that a charter was obtained for their PTA group "before the walls (of the school) were finished."

"There was never any doubt that we would open our school with a PTA," Kursey said.

Stanley Taylor, a Title I teacher at Eagle School and state PTA president, said many people do not realize that the organization acts as an advocacy group for school children in the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C., and in the state Legislature in Charleston, W.Va.

Others think that PTA groups only put together school fundraisers, he said.

At Eagle School, Taylor said he has tried to make parents feel more welcome and has instituted new programs. Taylor said there are about 2,200 PTA members in Berkeley County who comprise 14 PTA groups and two Parent Teacher Student Associations.

Susan Burner, Eagle School PTA's president, said members will take part in a number of workshops over the weekend, including sessions on drugs and inhalants, alcohol abuse, leadership training and healthy snacks in schools.

A "hike for healthy kids" also is planned, she said.

"If we're going to be leaders, we've got to lead by example," she said.

According to the national organization's Web site, PTA was founded in 1897 in Washington as the National Congress of Mothers by Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst.

More information about PTA is on the organization's Web site at

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