EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

How members of the Utah PTA are like an army

Aug 17, 2023, 2:56 PM | Updated: 3:04 pm

PTA member Anne Hansen is pictured giving instruction to students filling out college applications ...

FILE: PTA member Ann Hansen gives some instructions to students as they work to fill out college application forms at Cottonwood High School. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s not just kids heading back to school this week. Parents are going back to their Parent Teacher Associations.

“We’re building an army of parents across the state of Utah to help with all of the children,” explained Corey Fairholm, president of the Utah PTA. “We are a collective voice for all children.”

There are 77,000 members of the Utah PTA.

“That includes parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators, friends, family who want to do important things for their kids,” Fairholm said.

Utah PTA has 650 schools across the state. That’s 650 elementary, middle, and high schools with parents volunteering.

“It carries through high school,” Fairholm emphasized. “I was involved in my children’s high school PTA and did Reflections and yearbook signing. There are opportunities in middle and high school in addition to elementary school.”

Utah PTA partnership

Fairhold said the PTA is a partnership between parents and teachers. But, in each community, the partnership looks a little different.

“We recommend to the PTA leaders in every community to go to their community and find out what the parents want the PTA to focus on,” Fairholm said.

“That might be mental health, school safety, or opportunities to learn science or the arts. It really depends on what is needed in that community.”

You’ll find PTA volunteers helping schools in multiple ways. For example, they participate in programs like Reflections, Red Ribbon Week, and Kindness Week. They’re also part of assemblies and Battle of the Bands. Parents in the PTA help with vision and hearing screening in schools, and recognize student birthdays every month.

And the truth is that your PTA may look more like a pickup basketball game than a book club these days. Yes, because more and more fathers are getting involved.

“We have a lot of fathers who are involved in PTA,” Fairholm explained. “We even have several PTA presidents who are fathers. They show up to help the kids at school, maybe even helping on the playground.”

With the Utah PTA, children, and parents, do better

When parents volunteer in their child’s school, the child does better.

“Children just do better when parents are engaged in their learning,” Fairholm said. “When the parent is at the school, participating in the classroom, it makes a real difference.”

And here’s how being part of the PTA can help parents. When parents volunteer in school they have the opportunity to talk to the teachers. By doing so, they can learn how to help their student at home and, by extension, learn more.

“That builds the partnership between parent and teacher in helping that child and advocating for their success,” said Fairholm.

“One of our children will need life-saving surgery. Someone else’s child is going to perform that surgery. Let’s help to build these children’s future.”

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How members of the Utah PTA are like an army