Hillcrest Elementary School PTA honored

Awards for excellence and best communications from PTA Council of Baltimore County.

May 18, 2011|By Brian Conlinbconlin@patuxent.com

The Hillcrest Elementary School PTA was honored twice at the PTA Council of Baltimore County awards banquet, which was held at Loch Raven High School in Towson on May 12.

In addition to an award for Best PTA Communications, the school group was also recognized as one of only eight PTAs as a Unit of Excellence, a distinction the PTA also received last year.

"It just shows all the hard work and dedication of all the volunteers," said Jennifer Parker, the second-year president of the PTA for the school on Frederick Road. "Everyone won this award because everyone worked so hard."

Nancy Sorrow, president of the PTA Council of Baltimore County, said each PTA in the county learns about the awards before the school year starts and nominate themselves if they meet the established criteria.

"It's kind of to recognize a PTA that goes beyond what they are required by their charter," Ostrow said.

Terry McVey, principal of Hillcrest Elementary School for 12 years, said Parker deserves much of the credit for the PTA's success.

"I really think that Jenn Parker and the energy that she brought and her personal qualities that she brought to that position have really notched it up a bit," said McVey, who was nominated for Outstanding Educator of the Year by her school's PTA. "It's collaborative. We're all on the same page, working toward the same goal."

Much of the thrust of the PTA's efforts focused on technology this year and that led to their communications award.

"I think it was the expansive amount of outreach, the different forms of communication vehicles that they incorporated," Ostrow said of the Hillcrest group's achievements. "They have a whole package that kind of went well beyond the norm.

"Communication is vital to keeping our membership and the greater community aware of what is going on within the school."

Under Parker, the PTA stopped sending paper newsletters home and utilized electronic copy versions instead..

"When you have things electronically, people receive it immediately. It's a lot easier to refer back to something electronically," Parker said. "I love our elementary students, but they're not always the best at bringing things home."

In addition, the PTA participated in enrichment programs that boosted students' access to technology.

"They've worked with us to increase the (amount of) equipment that we have available to our students in the classrooms," McVey said. "We have addressed that as a collaborative initiative.

"We've worked together on fundraising efforts to provide more equipment to our teachers and our students."

Earlier this year the PTA unveiled a new website that has a video embedded in it promoting the PTA's "Invest in Hillcrest" fundraising campaign and uses the students' perspective to show what the PTA's involvement means to the school.

Involvement was a strength of the PTA this year.

"We are so proud and happy that we had 100 percent teacher membership," said Parker, noting the school didn't have full participation from the teachers last year. "Part of what makes Hillcrest such a fantastic school is the involvement of the parents."

Parker noted that the PTA meetings have drawn as many as 125 people with 40 about typical.

Next week's PTA meeting will be the last with Parker as president.

Her two-year term expires in June and she will not run for re-election when the votes for next year's PTA are cast at 7 p.m. on May 18 in the cafeteria of the school on 1500 Frederick Road.

"I could have been re-elected, but I don't think it's good for any (community) organization to have the same person running it for four years," said Parker, who has one child at the school..

Parker said she will remain active on the PTA as member at large on the board of directors.

The recent awards were a fitting recognition of PTA's focus on improving the learning environment for the students.

"It's really nice and something that I think the PTA can be proud of," Parker said. "I think they really deserve it because we do have a PTA of excellence."

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