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A Message From Outgoing PS124 PTA President.

June 26, 2015

thanks

21 months ago, we embarked on a journey together. A journey that would be, as most journeys are: tough yet rewarding, messy yet worthwhile, imposing yet inspiring. A journey with one foundational goal in mind: leave PS 124 even better than how we found it.

We went to work setting clear goals, building a strong set of bylaws, cultivating a trusting relationship with our principal, staff and teachers, as well as engaging parents to become involved in working hard so, when our time comes, we can leave PS 124 even better.

Engagement begins with communication.

Remember our first “test” together? In October 2013, we were faced with an abrupt departure of one of our pre-k teachers due to a decrease in our budget brought on by a decrease in registration. Thankfully, we were able to keep that teacher but, it did become clear to us at that time; our neighbors were walking their children away from PS 124 and directly into the doors of “better known” schools. Why? Because they didn’t know about the truly wonderful things happening behind the doors of our 115 year old building. We had to get the word out about the aims and accomplishments of our “little school with a big heart”.

Today, our communication infrastructure is successful in reaching families, teachers, district leaders, elected officials and our neighboring community. Our email list has grown from a little over 80 subscribers last year to over 255 total subscribers this year and, we’re using an email platform that allows each of our e-newsletters to be translated into numerous languages at the click of a mouse.

We are currently cultivating a following on both Instagram and Pinterest – while our Twitter followers have gone from zero to 285 and our Facebook page has grown from 32 likes to 150 likes. We have cleared the way for a new “Message Center” on the 13th Street side of our building, which is waiting to be installed and also have a TV display in our entry which shows images of our events as well as an upcoming events calendar.

As is the same with many schools, we find funding to be a challenge. In order to be proactive in preparing for potential financial shortfalls, I recommended last year that the PTA established robust fundraising as one of our top goals. We have made considerable strides to change our financial position. Not only have we had well attended fundraising events and used catalog sales to raise money but, we had our first ever direct appeal contribution drive and reached our goal of having contributions from 60 families. In addition, we worked with the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest to secure representation to help us obtain incorporated, non-profit status – which is a goal we are proud to move to the “achieved” column! This year, we close out the books with an estimated $4,000 surplus to use for valuable programming next year.

It’s been a busy two years!

This week, I was deeply honored to have received a Proclamation from NY State Senator Kevin Parker for excellence in service as PTA President for PS 124. I was humbled by the recognition and my gratitude has no words. But, I didn’t do this alone. Together with some PTA gladiators (cleverly disguised as executive board members) and a core team of extremely dedicated parent leaders and staff, we set out to do the work of making PS 124 better for all of our children.

What I didn’t know 21 months ago, was how life-shifting this opportunity would be for me. I have discovered a fulfillment that can only come from digging in, giving back and being of service. I continue to be inspired to do more to assist parent leaders in making a difference in their schools and communities.

How does that song go? “Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? But because I knew you I have been changed for good…”

Over the last couple of weeks, I have thanked a good number of you … families, new and old friends, teachers and staff … for your help, support and kindness. Again, THANK YOU! There are two people who I haven’t had the opportunity to thank: Jenn and Lyla. They have given me unconditional support, listened to every PTA story (some of them multiple times), endured my short fuse, been patient with the long hours, hosted Executive Board meetings, encouraged me to keep climbing when the walls I encountered seemed insurmountable and, they made me laugh when I needed it most. My sweethearts, for these reasons and for so much more, I am grateful beyond words.

Your new board has been elected … Lyla has graduated from 5th grade and that means, it’s time. This is it. The last newsletter from this guy. Until next time, take care of yourselves and, each other.

Wishing you all the best,
Jim Newman
President, 2013-2015
PS 124 Brooklyn PTA

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