PARENT TEACHER ASSOCIATION
Dear Brent Families,
On behalf of the Brent Parent Teacher Association (PTA), welcome to the 2016-2017 school year!
Six years ago, I walked into Brent researching schools for my three young kids. When I found Denise Diggs in the front office, I hit the jackpot. She answered questions, showed me classrooms and connected me with parents. I was struck by the many roles she played: Not only did she help run the school, she had two sons there, was an active PTA board member and a past president during a time of dramatic transition for the school. To me, it was a sign that Brent is a place where people are all-in. I wanted to be part of it.
My daughter, who entered Brent as a kindergartner, is now entering sixth grade elsewhere. My son, the four-year-old who refused naps in Early Childhood, is entering fifth grade. My youngest, Wade, is heading into third grade at Brent.
Within the walls of Brent, I've watched my children learn to read, perform in school plays, make friends, make mistakes.
I've learned that while every parent's experience is unique - even with the same teacher - some things are universal. We all want the best for our children. We want then to reach their potential, to know what it means to treat people fairly and be treated the same. We want their happiness.
What Brent Needs to Help Your Child Thrive
Besides for being a friendly place, what does Brent do well? About a year-and-a-half ago, Brent parents, teachers and staff sought to answer that question through a Strategic Planning process. The resulting five-year Plan builds upon Brent's strengths (we maintain small class sizes, we use a high-performing curriculum and we offer an unusual array of enrichments) and seeks to shore up our weaknesses.
We need more teaching staff in every classroom.
While Brent does well in many categories, we are not where we want to be, and continue to suffer an achievement gap. The PTA, with Principal Young's leadership, is doubling down on Adding more high-quality teaching staff to classrooms.
While all students in early childhood and kindergarten, have two teachers per class (as mandated by DCPS), students from the 1st to 5th grades do not. Brent's goal is for every class to have a lead teacher and a teaching partner. This will help ensure all students receive the teaching they need, whether they're above, below or right at grade level.
Last year, thanks to the generosity of parents and others taking part in various fundraisers, the PTA took a major step towards its goals by hiring four teaching partners, along with a fifth staff member whose sole job is to work with children when inevitable behavioral issues arise (allowing the classroom teacher to stay on task). By 2020, the goal is to have a teaching partner in every classroom at Brent. We have a challenging goal ahead. It will require us to stay focused on raising funds and continuing to tell the story of what the Strategic Plan uncovered.
We need your time, talent and ownership.
As you enter Brent anew this year, we ask you to pick up batons and take leadership. We ask you to remember that everything from music, science and art programs to the play equipment outside Brent were sparked by parent-led initiatives. They exist because someone of just like you dreamed big.
Beyond our teaching partner goals, what are this year's dreams? How will you help identify them and help make them a reality?
Included in this packet is a preliminary list of volunteer opportunities. Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions or other ideas.
We also need your money.
In my five years on the Brent PTA Board, one debate has dominated others: How to raise as much money as we can to support our children's education.
Every year, some are uncomfortable asking new families for donations, fearing it will be perceived as unfriendly and too aggressive; others are concerned that being too upfront makes people who cannot donate feel bad. Another faction always feels we should ask every family for a minimum of $1,000 or more per child and plaster that request on every wall (okay, that's an exaggeration, but you get the point).
The way I see it, being part of a great community and a high-performing public school in the heart of Washington, D.C. is extremely valuable. Perhaps invaluable.
Some of you will have more time to give than cash; for others, it'll be the reverse. (Most of us probably feel both are scarcer than we'd like!) Whether it's time, leadership or money, or all of the above, please give as much as you can.
The Annual Fund kicks off as the school year begins. I encourage you to give generously as this is the lowest-overhead fundraiser of the year and one of the most important. You are the best judge of what you can give, and thanks in advance for whatever that is.
I look forward to meeting you in person, and to being your partner this year,
Diana Williams Corless
How to help
The mission of the PTA is to foster connections between parents, enable parents to be of service to the school and build a community of parents, staff and administration committed to ensuring that Brent Elementary is a world high achieving educational environment for addressing the learning challenges of all students. Your support will help us achieve our mission.
The PTA is involved in many different areas of school life, such as organizing a parent orientation each school year, coordinating room parents and class potlucks, organizing the Annual Spring Gala, appreciation breakfasts and lunches. There are always opportunities to volunteer and get involved. As a Brent parent and member of the PTA, you make these things happen. Take a look at our PTA event calendar to see our programs and events.
The PTA Board contains annually elected officers, teacher liaisons and the school principal. All PTA Board meetings are open to the Brent community. All PTA Board and school-wide meeting dates are posted on the calendar. PTA meetings are generally held on Wednesdays and start at 6:30 pm. All general meetings include childcare paid for by the PTA.
President: Ben Champa
Vice President: Nazanin Ash
Treasurer: Amanda Catanzano
Secretary: Christina Muedeking
Board meetings are open to the public. They are typically at 6:30 p.m. the 4th Wednesday of the month, but some dates are different so be sure to check out calendar for the actual dates.
General PTA meetings are usually the 2nd Wednesday of the month from 6:30 - 8 p.m. with free childcare provided. Join us! Make sure to check the Brent calendar for updates.
The Brent Elementary PTA is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit tax-exempt organization. As such it is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions in accordance with IRS Code section 170. Our EIN is 16-1713470.
Please click here to download a copy of our IRS letter certifying our status. For more information of the PTA Bylaws click here.
The PTA organizes community events, like the Spring Gala to raise funds for the school. These funds help Brent grow and expand your child's education. To learn more about supporting Brent click here.