These days, teachers need all the help they can get. The combination of oversized classes and undersized budgets often equals educators straining to make sure their students’ needs are met. During these tough times, the support that class parents provide can make all the difference between an effective, well-run classroom or one steeped in chaos. If you are comfortable stepping up and taking on a leadership role, becoming class parent may be beneficial, rewarding and even pivotal to your child’s success. The responsibilities of class parents differ from grade to grade and school to school, but here is an overview of what you can expect.
Communicate – The class parent is often the one sending emails or making phone calls to other parents, in order to apprise them of classroom activities and needs. Your first responsibility may be to acquire email addresses and telephone numbers, usually via kids’ backpacks, if that list has not been provided by the school. Your first communication to the other parents should be one identifying yourself and requesting input, ideas and support for how to best bolster the teacher’s efforts during the coming year. Many class parents turn to social media, creating Facebook and Pinterest pages as well as Twitter feeds to support and facilitate communication. Some also use Instagram to share class memories from trips, presentations and special events.
Organize – The class parent is often responsible for coordination of classroom happenings, such as holiday fairs, back-to-school night and Teacher Appreciation Week. They may also be responsible for many of the never-ending, make-or-break details associated with field trips and PTA meetings. Class parents also typically reach out to other parents to volunteer as needed, both in the classroom and behind the scenes, and make themselves available to welcome parents whose children are entering the classroom midyear, as well as facilitating solutions for those who have special concerns.
Fundraise – More and more classrooms have become dependent upon fundraising for necessary supplies, as well as much-appreciated extras. The class parent is often the one cheerfully cajoling community members, other parents and local businesses to pull open their purse strings and supply both cash and in-kind contributions of goods and services. The class parent may also take on responsibility for raising money to acknowledge the teacher’s birthday or for holiday gifts.
Inspire – The class parent is an unsung hero who stands for something both altruistic and powerful. A class parent who is willing to take on the job with creativity, imagination and grit truly has the opportunity to make a difference, not only to the classroom but to the school at large. They also, by definition, spark others to give their best, creating a beneficial legacy.
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.