Mississippi PTA convention returns to Natchez

Published 12:05 am Monday, April 24, 2017

The 98th Convention of the Mississippi Congress of Parents and Teachers, Inc. (best known as the Mississippi PTA) will meet in Natchez on Thursday through Saturday at the Alcorn State University Natchez campus.

Mississippi PTA is a vital part of the largest and most effective grassroots child advocacy association in the nation. For more than 110 years National PTA has been the premiere advocacy association for America’s children. The Mississippi PTA was organized in 1909 and has worked to make a positive difference in the lives of all children. National PTA and Mississippi PTA remain a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Today’s PTA is a network of millions of families, teachers, administrators, business leaders and community leaders devoted to the educational success and the promotion of family engagement in schools.

Parental and family involvement is a key ingredient in Mississippi’s efforts to improve our public schools and our children’s academic performance. The MS PTA Convention will provide tools needed to “bridge the gap” from where we are to where we want to be. In this effort, Mississippi PTA has encouraged parent leadership on the local and state level since its inception.

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This year’s convention theme is “Bridging the Gap Through Advocacy.” Each presenter’s main focus will be to provide participants with the tools needed to improve the relationship between family, school and community to ensure student success. Let me give you a brief glimpse of the convention. At 9 a.m. Thursday, the convention will begin with music by the dynamic Natchez High School band under the direction of Marcus Washington. The Natchez High School AFJROTC, under the command of Master Sgt. Wilbert Washington, and the Adams County Veterans Services will lead the posting of colors, the national anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance. The Rev. John Scott will give words of inspiration. Greetings by Mayor Darryl Grennell, NASD Superintendent Fred Butcher, Chief of Police Daniel White, Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten and National PTA representative Charles Scott will set the tone for delegates and visitors.

Since this is an election year, business matters will be introduced and then personal trainer, Larry Andrews has agreed to show the delegates and visitors how you can “sit and be fit.” (That’s going to be fun.) After a brief break, the Head Start singers will certainly lift the spirits of everyone with their musical renditions.

One expressed parental concern across the state relates to the local school board. Panelist Amos James, president of the Adams County school board, along with board members Phillip West, Thelma Newsome and Brenda Robinson will address the concerns of delegates and visitors. Donald Reeves, president of the Claiborne County school board and Jackie Jones from the Claiborne County school board will also be a part of the panel.

A business session will follow with nominations and bylaws changes. Workshops begin after lunch. They include “How To Be A School of Excellence,” “Man Up,” both presented by National PTA; “The ABCs of Your Child’s Education (children with special needs)” presented by MS PTI; “Making the Connection Between Family Services” presented by Families First; “Diversity and Multiculturalism” presented by National PTA; “How To Be An Effective Local Unit President,” “The Work of the Secretary,” “Keeping Your Unit in Compliance” all presented by MS PTA; and “Safe Touch” presented by Natchez Children’s Services. The day ends with an opportunity to meet the candidates.

On Friday morning, entertainment will be by the award winning Natchez High School choir under the direction of Tema Larry, a keynote address will be given by National PTA representative Charles Scott. The poll opens for voting and the workshops begin at 10 a.m. The workshops include “Skills for Effective Advocacy” presented by MS PTI; “Prevent Now” presented by Natchez Children’s Service; “Grassroots Advocacy,” “Ethical Leadership,” “An Effective Board of Directors” all presented by NPTA, “College and Career Readiness,” “What’s Up With MAEP and ESSA” presented by the Mississippi Department of Education, “Healthy Eating-Healthy Lifestyles,” “Physical Fitness” both presented by MS PTA, “Impacting the Whole Family” presented by Families First, “Register Your 501(3)c” presented by a Mississippi Secretary of State representative. The day will end with a presentation on legislative matters by local and state officials.

Friday night’s Awards Banquet at the Natchez Grand Hotel Ballroom promises to be an evening of splendor. Ernest “Tony” Fields will guide the night. The guest speaker is Natchez native and Interim Superintendent of Jackson Public Schools Dr. Freddrick Murray.

Scholarships will be presented to students, charters will be presented to new PTA units, the Deloris Evans Irving Parent of the Year award will be presented, awards will be given to local units from across the state in various categories and selected retired educators will be recognized. The night will end with a silent auction.

On Saturday, newly elected officers will be installed and at 10 a.m. the Reflections Cultural Arts program, coordinated by Mr. Greg West, will begin. Students and groups from area schools will perform, and awards presented to winning state participants. Male involvement will be emphasized by the Watch Dads of Great Students members. The program will end with a praise dance by the Salem BC dancers of Jefferson County.

Simultaneously, the ACT workshop (taught by Mrs. Kim Turner and Mr. Steven Richardson), the PRAXIS workshop, and the Seeking to Build Positive Relationships With Your Students workshop (Professional development with CEU credits for both) conducted by the Mississippi Association of Educators, will meet the needs of many.

Vendors, exhibitors, door prizes, free literature, radio broadcasts, newspaper interviews and much, much more. Whew — I just could not name everything!

The 98th Annual Convention of the Mississippi Congress of Parents and Techers, Inc. is an opportunity to celebrate the hard work PTAers have done all school year to strengthen Mississippi’s public schools.

This convention, however, will not be complete without you Plan now to attend all or part —you will be glad you did.

Your continued support of the children of the great state of Mississippi is appreciated and our children are worth the hardwork from each one of us. Special thanks to sponsors, donors, volunteers and everyone who made this convention possible.
Deloris Irving is the 2017 Convention Chair.