Preservation Commission approves Condo design

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 17, 2005

VIDALIA &8212; Schools these days want parents to do more than sign up to bring cupcakes to the Christmas party and attend a monthly informational meeting.

So they&8217;ve either modified or disbanded the traditional PTA, in favor of parent/student interaction.

Concordia Parish schools have gone without Parent Teacher Associations for more than five years.

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&8220;We find it works better when we have the parents and children together,&8221; Ferriday Lower Elementary Principal Loretta Peterman said.

FLES hosts several family nights focused on reading, math or science throughout the year. Parents come with their children, meet the teachers and work through a series of educational games for prizes.

&8220;Parents can see what their children know and don&8217;t know,&8221; Peterman said.

The school also has parent events during the day, like a mother&8217;s tea or doughnuts with dad, to try and reach all parents.

Peterman said she thought parents preferred interacting with the kids instead of attending a meeting.

&8220;Listening to someone talk to you about strategies, that&8217;s a little bit boring,&8221; she said. &8220;Involvement is a whole lot more meaningful.&8221;

Vidalia Upper Elementary Principal Darla Johnston agreed, saying parents are more on the go now than they used to be.

&8220;I think it&8217;s because parents are so busy trying to get everything done,&8221; Johnston said.

VUES has similar occasional nighttime events, but Johnston said she has plenty of parents in the school during the day too.

&8220;They volunteer on their own,&8221; she said. &8220;We aren&8217;t really lacking, but we&8217;d always like to have more.&8221;

By dropping the formality of the PTA meetings, parents feel more at home in the schools, Peterman said.

&8220;It allows parents to become more comfortable with the teachers,&8221; she said. &8220;We can form a team approach (to education).&8221;

PTAs are still a part of the Natchez-Adams School District, but students have been incorporated into most meetings.

At the very least the Frazier Primary School choir will sing at the meetings and refreshments will be served, Principal Lorraine Franklin said. But the school also expands some meetings into family fun nights with projects for the children.

&8220;The PTA can be a powerful tool,&8221; Franklin said. &8220;They can get things done that we as a building can&8217;t get done.&8221;

Frazier PTA meetings draw between 100 and 200 parents, and they have organized everything from fundraisers to out-of-town field trips.

Parents stay involved throughout the day, Franklin said, and they are in the building often.

&8220;You couldn&8217;t ask for a better group of people as far as getting things done for your building,&8221; she said.

LaWanda Doss Toles, president of the Frazier PTA, said she got involved when her daughter was young because she wanted to help.

&8220;The goal for this year is to raise enough funds for an end of the year trip,&8221; she said. &8220;Each year we get bigger. This year we want to go to Orlando, to Disney World.&8221;

Last year&8217;s trip was to the New Orleans Six Flags and the Audubon Zoo.

Toles said involving the children in the meetings is a definite plus &8212; and something that encourages more parents to attend.

Morgantown Elementary uses the same philosophy, Principal Fred Marsalis said.

&8220;PTA allows parents to actually become a working part of programs in the school,&8221; he said.