Every school is unique yet the connection between parents, students, teachers and support staff enhances every community.
With in-person events on hold, the South Parent Teacher Organization, serving Betsy Ross and Field Stevenson grade center is one of the parent organizations that has pivoted to plan and organize in a year of restrictions. Undeterred, the PTO has worked to carry on with engaging and connecting families and schools.
“Programs have been on hold, many of our events like STEM Night and the Spring Fling have been paused,” said Kristin Pekoll, PTO president, who has been in office since 2020. As the weather warms up, they hope to gather outdoors again.
Determined to continue to support the schools, Pekoll credits her leadership team, the “Mom Squad,” of mostly second grade moms, Monica Rountree, Rachelle Ernst, Ebony Murray and Karrie Schlicting who have been connecting families and teachers in this unusual year.
“We have been helping to communicate information through the families, including the vaccine clinic, and have had representation at the school board meetings and Citizens Advisory Council,” she said.
With boosts from creative fundraisers, its next project is to stock the teachers’ lounge with snacks, mints, energy drinks and small items to pamper the teachers on their breaks. This Valentine’s Day they sent students home with Valentine’s for the Teachers, encouraging students to answer questions about their teacher and share how they love them. Staff at Betsy Ross and Field Stevenson received a gift of brownies and cookies from Twisted Cookie in Forest Park.
Hosting contactless fundraisers like the FunDrive, where families were encouraged in December to “purge before the splurge,” the PTO collected items for a nonprofit organization that loaded the items and paid per pound of material collected. With a second year of limited social contact, “sharing ideas from our other parent organizations has been incredibly helpful.”
“We are giving a network of support to our teachers and spotlighting all the support staff, social workers, nurses, custodians and librarians and others who are connected to each other,” said Pekoll.
Another fundraiser is an ongoing Shop with Scrip where a person can purchase gift cards from Scrip then use the gift card (physical and electronic) for their purchases from local stores and restaurants. Everyday purchases earn a percentage to support the South PTO and all the funds go back to supporting the classrooms and people who support the students at the schools.
Next up, look for the mom squad and supporting cast in the Forest Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade.