The Kirtland PTA was awarded the National PTA School of Excellence designation for 2020-2022 for their accomplishments in building a strong, effective family-school partnership that is enriching the educational experience and overall well-being for all students.
“We worked towards this goal for two years through Covid-19 and unprecedented times,” said former President Alison Wuliger. “Our School of Excellence goal was to promote healthy lifestyles at home and school. When Covid-19 hit, focusing on the physical and emotional well-being of our school community became even more important. I am so proud of the work the PTA has done and thrilled our application was accepted.”
Only five PTA's in the State of Ohio received this recognition and Kirtland is the only PTA in Lake County.
“We are thrilled to honor the accomplishments of Kirtland Local Schools and their PTA” said Anna King, president of National PTA. “Their efforts have made a positive impact for all students, families and their school, which has been and continues to be more important than ever, especially given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The PTA created a speaker series with presentations from a psychologist who talked about “Managing Stress and Anxiety through a Wellbeing Approach.” They also had a former prosecutor and current Juvenile Court Magistrate who educated parents on internet safety. District guidance counselors reported on social-emotional learning at school and the director of pupil services presented on ways to avoid the “summer slide.” A Kirtland parent and yoga instructor, ran two interactive programs–“Family Movement and Music” and “Family Yoga.” Both allowed families to exercise and spend quality time together.
For Valentine’s Day 2020, the PTA focused on being heart healthy. They provided fruits and vegetables for all elementary students. Students could try healthy foods that they might not otherwise have access to or want to sample. In 2021, the PTA focused on hydration. All students received a bottle of water with a “Stay Heart Healthy and Hydrated” sticker, a heart shaped fun straw, and a hand-out with a water tracker and strategies to encourage water consumption.
“When COVID hit, we immediately shared resources to help our families get through that difficult time via our website and social media,” said Wuliger. “This included mental health resources such as mindfulness apps, resources to manage anxiety and depression, COVID resources, digital safety resources, self-help suggestions, fun virtual activities to do from home, and making sure families knew how to receive a free lunch.”
Other COVID safe activities included a virtual spirit week, pumpkin carving contest, holiday coloring contest, and virtual canvas painting events. Last spring, the PTA also purchased stencils and painted “activity zones” on the elementary school playground to encourage our kids to stay active and help practice gross motor skills.
National PTA’s School of Excellence program is a year-long commitment to improving family-school partnerships. Throughout the year, PTAs and schools collect feedback from their school communities to create and implement plans of action to make a difference for every child. Through the School of Excellence program, PTAs and families become key partners in decision-making and school improvement efforts. The program opens the lines of communication and critical thinking within school communities to make data-driven decisions that yield positive, long-term results.
“It has been especially critical to have open lines of communication, strong family-school partnerships and families as key partners in the decision-making during the COVID-19 pandemic. We must continue to keep these practices going in the new school year to address learning gaps experienced during the pandemic and support students’ social and emotional needs,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “National PTA’s School of Excellence program can help strengthen or rebuild family-school partnerships while we continue to recover from the effects of COVID-19 and ensure students, families and schools have what they need to thrive.”
To celebrate their achievements, National PTA presented Kirtland Local Schools and Kirtland Local Schools PTA with a certificate and a National PTA School of Excellence banner to hang in their school.
PHOTO: 2020-2021 Kirtland PTA Board holding School of Excellence Banner. L to R: Amanda Kidd, Kyle Crisci, Nicole Bruckman, Andrea Ribic, Stephanie DiFranco, Allison Wuliger. Not pictured: Sandy Bradshaw, Lisa Ianetta, Jennifer Samac.