162 PTAs Win Gold Key Membership Award from NCPTA

The North Carolina PTA annually recognizes PTAs across the state for building strong teams of parent and teacher volunteers. The Gold Key Award acknowledges PTAs who received the Blue Key Award for 2016-2017 and added 25 new members by January 15.

Read the full list of recipients for the 2016-2017 Gold Key Award.

Every Child: Healthy Schools and Successful Students Training

An interactive and collaborative meeting for health and wellness chairs, advocacy chairs, and PTA officers, we’ll dig deep into our Health and Wellness Advocacy Priorities and develop our PTA vision of what a healthy and successful school looks like in 2020.

Monday, March 13, 2017
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
NCPTA Office
3501 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC

We have assistance available for travel costs for those coming from outside of the Triangle area! Email Marianne with any questions. Lunch will be provided.

Registration is required by March 1. Space is limited.






Register Today

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NCPTA Seeking Interim Executive Director

The North Carolina PTA is looking for a skilled part-time interim executive director to assess current operations and to help guide the organization’s strategic direction.  The ideal candidate will have successful experience in:

  • Serving as an interim executive director
  • Managing staff and working with nonprofit boards
  • Conducting staffing assessments and restructuring organizations
  • Managing change
  • Fundraising, including managing a membership program
  • Running an executive director search process

The ideal candidate would also be able to spend at least 20 hours a week in the Raleigh office, with availability to travel to other locations around the state.

About the North Carolina PTA

The North Carolina Parent Teacher Association is the state’s oldest and largest volunteer organization advocating for the education, health, safety and success of all children and youth while building strong families and communities. The NCPTA impacts more than 685,000 children and their families across the state.

Timeline for Hiring

  • Application deadline: January 27th
  • Notification of final candidates: January 30th
  • Phone interviews: likely February 2nd and 3rd
  • In-person interviews in Raleigh: likely the week of February 6th
  • Final decision: February 13th
  • Ideal start date: March 1st

Application Details

To be considered, please submit a resume and cover letter to president@ncpta.org by 5 pm on Friday, January 27th.  If you have questions about the opportunity, please contact Kelly Langston at president@ncpta.org

Using Your Voice to Help Provide Access for All

Amy Kobos – Health and Wellness Promoter, Fayetteville

Did you know that 1 in 4 children in North Carolina are at risk for hunger, and that nearly 30% of children under the age of 18 live in poverty?

We can easily assume people come from the same place as us, and we even get wrapped up in our own bubble thinking everyone has similar advantages, but in reality we know this isn’t true. Many American children and families struggle. Don’t assume every student has the privilege to have college freely financed or have parents who can help with homework. Many children don’t even have the privilege to eat a healthy meal, have a safe place outside to exercise, or have a family member they can count on.

The opportunity to access health and healthy living across different populations and how various social determinants can impact this is what is called HEALTH EQUITY.

Examples of health inequity are:

  • Not having access to grocery stores that offer nutritious food. These neighborhoods are typically saturated with nearby convenient stores.
  • Inability to receive mortgage loans based on the zip code you reside. Data show that African-American populations are the most affected.
  • Not having access to safe places to exercise. Even if there is a park nearby, often it is an area where kids cannot go alone.
  • Not being able to receive adequate life skills education or school guidance in the home environment because of absence of parental figures/other support. Hispanic and African-American communities are at the highest risk, but is not limited to these populations.
  • Possessing a higher rate of chronic disease, low birth weight, mental illness, including suicidality based on sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and gender norms.

Health inequity negatively impacts child development. If a child does not have access, this will likely adversely affect his/her health in the future.

According to the World Health Organization, health inequities are “systematic, socially produced (and therefore modifiable) and unfair.” This can be bad, and this can be good; the good being that you have the power to improve it.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF HEALTH INEQUITY AND WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Social determinants affect health outcomes. The six major categories are:

  1. Economic stability: employment, medical bills, debt, expenses, etc.
  2. Neighborhood and physical environment: housing, transportation, walkability, playgrounds, etc.
  3. Education: literacy, language, early childhood education, etc.
  4. Food: hunger, access to healthy options, etc.
  5. Community and social context: social integration, racism, discrimination, social support systems, etc.
  6. The healthcare system.

You might think that we live in a very equally opportunistic country, but I can assure you this is false. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation provides us with a more in depth explanation of how this might be. But, YOU CAN help improve this as an NCPTA member by providing access and resources your students might not be able to get at home. Assume all children are at risk. Focus on a few of these social determinants in your school to improve health equity.

FOOD

  • Advocate for school lunches to be highly nutritious (whole foods vs. processed foods).
  • For the students receiving free lunches, connect with community partners, like Backpack Buddies and Mobile Meals to make sure students are receiving nutritious meals on the weekends and in the summers. Click here for additional information and programs which can assist students in North Carolina.
  • During fundraising or other school events/celebrations, ditch the pizza and ice cream. Instead, try celebrating with different ethnic themed cuisines and healthy ingredients (this also celebrates cultural diversity). Examples could be taco buffets, Greek salads, Indian curry, or Italian spaghetti with zucchini spirals for pasta. Ingredients could be donated and sponsored by local restaurants/grocers.
  • Provide education on how to create healthy meals on a small budget and/or without parental guidance.
  • Create and maintain a school community garden. This would assure students healthy food they could take home and cook. Buncombe County schools partner with FEAST (Fresh, Easy, Affordable, Sustainable, and Tasty) who incorporates classroom time dedicated to learning how to grow and cook your own food.

COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL CONTEXT

  • Connect with organizations, like Big Brothers Big Sisters or other student mentoring organizations, to offer support which hones in on developmental assets and/or assisting in helping prepare students who need an extra hand with homework.
  • Pair up every student with either a counselor/volunteer/teacher’s assistant/parent, etc. to check in throughout the semester to make sure students are able to get forms filled out, attain college prep and/or career literacy, able to meet registration deadlines (like driver’s education), ability to pay, being heard about any at-home obstacles students may be facing that may inhibit access to healthy living/learning opportunities. This can also act as assessment that could provide data to help receive funding for additional resources for students. We cannot assume every child has someone they can count on at home.
  • Require classes which prepare students for real life that emphasizes on professionalism and taking the initiative; for example, public speaking and career prep.

NEIGHBORHOOD AND PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT

  • Require physical education classes every semester until graduation.
  • Incorporate physical activity in classroom learning.
  • Advocate for open use agreements allowing school facilities to be used by the community during non-school hours.
  • Advocate for secure, safe parks/green spaces to be built in lower-income/rural/urban neighborhoods.

Change isn’t going to happen globally or nationally overnight, but know that change will happen more rapidly and effectively if implemented on a local scale. This means you can be successful. Partner with community organizations and resources, make your team grow, be the role models, and set the example of how society can improve the future for our children and country. Strive to create access for all.

Celebrating Cultural Diversity

Amy Kobos – Health and Wellness Promoter, Fayetteville

Music is a universal language, and at the same time, unique to every group of people. You could be Haitian, Alaskan, African-American, Japanese, Eastern-European, or Middle-Eastern creating the music—or appreciating the music. Music is one way we can effectively communicate who we are as an individual or as a culture. It takes dedicated work and practice to connect and celebrate our diversity, and it is inevitable there will always be differences that challenge unity. An inclusive PTA that values diversity contributes to a healthy school climate for children. But how can we make it happen?

There are two subtle (and not-so-subtle) challenges to honoring and celebrating diversity: stereotyping and racism. According to Simple Psychology, stereotyping has a purpose: it helps us react rapidly to situations that have happened before. The disadvantage is when we tend to ignore the differences between individuals; therefore, we make false generalizations and assumptions. Stereotyping makes it “easy” to characterize a person or group, typically in a negative context from what one was led to believe. In music, we concentrate on and appreciate the individuality of the artist or band and we need to challenge ourselves to do the same in human-to-human interaction on an everyday basis.

Racism is the discrimination or prejudice based on race and is the belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others, and often goes hand in hand with stereotyping. While racism has improved in the past 100 years, it’s still a widespread problem. There are three levels of racism: institutionalized, personally mediated racism (including microaggressions), and internalized racism.

Try one of these activities at your school to explore and celebrate your diversity:

Activity 1: Discussion.
Have a conversation about cultural diversity with your students. Ask them where they think they are as a society and why? What obstacles are they currently observing in society? Do they have a personal story to share? What needs to be changed? How are they personally going to help contribute in celebrating cultural diversity on a day-to-day basis?

Activity 2: Identity arts project.  
To emphasize the importance of cultural appreciation, mutual respect, and human connection amongst each other in the classroom, have the students prepare and present an artistic project that demonstrates their background and identity, their challenges, and where they are in the process. The project could be creative writing, visual arts, music, or more!

Activity 3: Narrative.
Challenge students to write descriptively about a time that they experienced stereotyping or racism. Describe the circumstances and how you felt. What did you do? In retrospect, is there anything you would do differently?

Activity 4: Cultural Nights.
Host a single event or multiple nights for the different groups that make your school special and unique. Music, dance, and foods can all be used as an opportunity to share your culture with other students and families, and provide an opportunity for you to learn from other families in your school. These can include a PTA meeting or academic information for parents!

Keep in mind that diversity should not be a reason to label people or cultures. Stereotyping and racism prevent people and/or cultures from the full potential of contributing to society in a positive way. This suppression stifles our communities’ ability to grow and evolve. Embracing diversity opens up a world full of possibility.” – Julie Palmer, Health Coach for RivalHealth

I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.” Booker T. Washington.

Debate vs. Discussion: Strategies for Healthier Conversations

Amy Kobos – Health and Wellness Promoter, Fayetteville

We’re passionate about our beliefs and what we think is right or wrong.  We want to make our points clear and strong to people like our partners, co-workers, school board, and politicians. But, oftentimes, these conversations get heated. Debates aren’t always unhealthy.  Debating has purpose. It teaches individuals how to feel confident and be able to defend their ground. Debating provides us with the necessary tools to cultivate a sense of confidence.  And, we need confidence to create change.

But discussions allow us to bring more people onto our team to work together. This year, let’s focus on how we can have healthier DISCUSSIONS. Here’s how to get started:

  • Make a solution based on a teamwork approach, not an individual approach.  Ask questions.  Do not assume other people think like you.  There are always at least two sides of the story.
  • Never attack or tell someone he/she is wrong; do not judge and do not hold grudges.
  • Accept there will be compromises.
  • Show appreciation of others’ perspectives.  This is key.
  • Know that solutions are a work in progress and will need to be revisited over time.
  • Write down the different needs expressed and come up with possible strategies. Realize that there may be different solutions to solve the same problem.
  • If presenting to a stakeholder with more power, like a school board or local politician, present your concern politely, “These are our needs, and here are some solutions we came up with. What can you do to help?”  Be confident and respectful in asking these stakeholder questions.  Do not demand, manipulate, or threaten.
  • When cultivating critical thinking, confidence, and empowerment within your children, don’t forget they need to respect authority.

Discussion is more effective than debating, and everyone involved will likely feel more compelled to respect each other. It unifies, not divides. This is the healthy way.  If you want your voices to effectively be heard, you will need the help from people with whom you may disagree.  You will end up valuing these different perspectives, which bring about a coherent solution.  We should always do our best to work together, not against each other.  This is how you create effective change.

NCPTA Lobby Day Scheduled for March 14

The annual NCPTA Lobby Day is Tuesday, March 14th. This is a great opportunity to build legislative support for our schools and showcase PTAs across the state.

We’ll meet in the morning to attend committee hearings and set up individual meetings with legislators for afternoon visits. If you’re interested in participating, please RSVP below by February 20.

We will hold a Lobby Day training webinar on February 28 at 7 p.m. for lobby day participants in preparation for the March 14 Lobby Day.


Registration is closed. Please contact office@ncpta.org with questions.

Now Recruiting for the NCPTA Board of Directors

The NCPTA nominating committee is seeking passionate and energetic leaders committed to helping all children to serve on its Board of Directors.

If you are an individual with the drive to work with an inspiring and exciting group dedicated to the PTA mission and striving to make a significant difference in ensuring all children reach their full potential, please fill out our Online Interest Form by January 31.

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Connecting Your Students through Gratitude

Amy Kobos, Health and Wellness Promoter, Fayetteville

What makes our teachers great? Each one of us has a unique experience that has sculpted us into who we are. Some have had very challenging lives, while others have challenges that lie ahead. Our teachers realize this, and with skill and patience, they assist us in challenges and help us grow from them. What is this fuel which helps us progress through these obstacles? It could be a physical skill an instructor took the time to demonstrate that helped you learn how to take risks in life. It could be your 6th grade teacher who helped you understand a math skill so you could incorporate it into your adulthood. It could even be the parents who establish healthy boundaries in real life.

Gratitude is central to the holiday season and the New Year! What better time to encourage students to appreciate how teachers have helped them flourish in the classroom and beyond! Last month, we mentioned a gratitude activity in the “Rethink Your Holidays with 10 Healthy Tips,” article which focused on gratitude among classmates. This emphasized the uniqueness of what or who helps us get through the challenges in our lives. This also incorporated the value of interpersonal relationships, cultural diversity, and critical thinking into the classroom. Let’s take this a step further with your students so they can show gratitude for you!

Here are some ideas:

  • Make a gratitude jar for the teacher as a gift. Throughout the semester, each student could submit words of appreciation on how he/she has developed while in the classroom.
  • Integrate gratitude towards teachers in your students’ weekly journal entries.
  • Have the students collect and frame inspiring quotes that mean something them as a gift to the teacher.
  • Instead of students bringing in sweets to show appreciation, encourage the students and parents to put together healthier gifts, like fruit bouquets, yogurt parfaits, a pass to the local botanical gardens, or even gift card for a massage or Home Depot.

Gratitude isn’t just a tool we use for self-exploration and self-growth. Gratitude is a tool we use to connect. When students participate in activities like this, it helps them become aware of what facilitates their obstacles and progress. It develops a healthier state of mind by turning those “what ifs” into something more assuring, like “I’ll do fine no matter what.” Gratitude connects us to all of those little life events and people of which or whom we may have taken for granted. This forms a unique footprint which helps sculpt those bridges that we can utilize on whatever path we take.

Empowering Your Kids About Healthy Body Image Starts with YOU

By Amy Kobos, Health and Wellness Promotor, Fayetteville

This conversation is just as important as the birds and the bees.

You need to talk with your children and students about healthy body image. But, how can you talk to them if you aren’t sure what healthy body image is?  We have been flooded for decades with what we ‘think’ healthy body image is, only to religiously count calories, go on fad diets, exercise profusely and feel guilty for eating a dessert.  The media are saturated with focusing on weight loss and depicting skinny girls and boys – because this is what we should be.  We also give excuses for thinking it’s okay to skip meals: “I’m too busy to eat; I shouldn’t eat as much today because I ate a lot last night; I need to fit in those pants.”  This is the core of American culture’s perception of what healthy body image is.

To have this conversation, it needs to happen with you first.  Use these tools to facilitate exploration within yourself so you know how to convey this to your kids:

  • What is your definition of healthy body image?
  • Why do you feel America’s current perspective on healthy body image is how you have to be accepted in society?
  • What components are necessary in order to sustain healthy body image?
  • How do you prioritize your body to stay healthy?
  • Do you feel guilty or make excuses for your body’s needs? If so, why?

Each one of you is going to have different answers. This is okay!  Butyou need to sort out what’s healthy and what could be detrimental.
Read more.