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What makes a strong community? And how can we strengthen our community? It’s hard to find an answer for these questions.

Luckily, we have many extraordinary Parent Teacher Associations at Provo City School District, and we have Franklin Elementary and their PTA as a model that helps answer the question. 

Franklin’s PTA presides in meetings in both English and Spanish. To paraphrase their webpage, they aid the school with vision screenings, reflections, spirit week, maturation, decorating the school for special occasions, STEM Fairs, Teacher Appreciation Week, SEPs, school events, gift giveaways, and much more. Most of these things would only happen without the help of the PTA. 

Not only does their PTA provide volunteers for these events, but they often fund the events. They manage to take home projects, constantly creating bags and posters for events like STEM Fair, Teacher Appreciation Week, and other holidays. They use donated food items to feed students. 

The list continues; they’re problem-solving many daily in-class issues. Gathering reading minutes is one fantastic example: students report their reading minutes to earn school events and prizes. Although students are reading well and reporting their minutes, some teachers still need help gathering reading minutes from some students.

In the most recent PTA meeting, parents sat shoulder-to-shoulder and faced the issue, creating methods to combat teachers’ concerns. The PTA proposed equitable responses: for students too embarrassed to report reading minutes possibly smaller in number than their peers, teachers could create a class against the class competition, similarly gathering numbers in more private practice. The PTA looked at third grade as a model for success, asking third-grade teachers how they interacted with working-class parents to collect numbers. Teachers attributed some of their success to a third-party app called the RemindApp: using the app, teachers reached out to all parents directly and immediately to gather reading minutes.

The PTA also reviewed their most recent Parent Teacher Conference– and, as yet another example of community-building, Franklin’s PTA gathered meals made by parents and delivered them to parents over the conference week. Teachers, when was the last time you received a meal made by your student’s parents at a Parent Teacher Conference? (During my years as a student and as a previous teacher, I never received a meal, nor did I see teachers receiving food– which is a shame.)

They’re undeniably effective in aiding their school and an integral cohesive in uniting their community. They highlight their school’s diversity and do their best to create an inclusive space where every person feels appreciated, every teacher feels supported, and every student can do their best.

“This PTA makes you feel valued and noticed,” one parent at the meeting said. “They know how to find several routes for parents to help, and they work closely with teachers to meet their needs.”

So, what makes a strong community? And how do we strengthen our community?

If you were to make a list, you might list trust between members of different walks of life and a willingness to work toward shared causes. You’d likely include confidence in your institutions and those representing you. You’d probably list opportunities for change; knowing the routes to improve said concerns is essential if you want to address an issue. 

Strong communities leave space for members to make an impact. Strong communities often have a strong sense of identity yet leave room for inclusion.

Franklin Elementary School and its PTA make up a strong community by every metric. The PTA is vital in building and maintaining partnerships between students, parents, staff, and the broader network of local community partners. They leave space for any interested parents or community members to get involved, and they find several avenues for different types of aid.

We’re so grateful for their efforts. Keep up the great work. 

And for those who’d like to join the Franklin Elementary School PTA or find ways to donate or volunteer, visit the Franklin Elementary School PTA webpage. Or, if you’d like to offer aid to your school, find your PTA at the National PTA website, and join today.

Spencer Tuinei
  • Communication Specialist
  • Spencer Tuinei