Florida PTA     1747 Orlando Central Parkway     Orlando, Florida     32809     407-855-7604     800-373-5782
*Please share this publication with your members*
It's as predictable as a sunrise. This time of year, social media is flooded with pictures of teacher appreciation events, end of the year banquets, college selections and graduations. Ahhh...nothing says change like the word "graduation". Whether it's grinning preschoolers, awkward 8th graders, jubilant high school seniors, or relieved parents & caregivers, they all have one thing in common: what they've become accustomed to will now dramatically change. Their daily routines, their constant companions, their familiar scenery....all changing.

Some will only be impacted by a change in their school start times, bus stops, and teachers. Others will be walking the halls of a new school, worried about getting lost, fitting in, and making new friends. Then there are the ones who will be packing up their favorite shoes, their perfect pair of jeans and that one thing that reminds them of home, to begin a journey of their own into either college or career. "Excited" and "anxious" don't really begin to capture the plethora of feelings they most certainly are experiencing.

And then there are those who are left behind. The parents, grandparents, caregivers and siblings who now have a little more echo in the hallway, who absentmindedly set an extra plate at dinner, who will check the phone a little too often, waiting for a call or a text just to affirm that everything is okay. Who will stalk (aka innocently browse) social media to see what's really going on with their baby. Their change comes without the same degree of excitement, but with an extra dose of anxiety. Letting go is never easy, but when we know in our heart that we've done the best we can to lay a firm foundation, it makes change a little more palatable.

If you don't fall into one of these categories this year, the good/bad news is you will very soon. Time marches on and we just hold on until it's our turn. For those of us who are now grandparents, we remember that lesson all too well.   Change is inevitable. You will survive and so will they. So, just breathe, hug them a little tighter, make them allow you to kiss their cheek and know that change has to happen for life to continue. We do what we do, so that they can flourish and have a richer life.

So, if your nest is now completely or just partially empty and you're worried you'll go stir crazy, I know a whole bunch of children who are waiting for a hero...just putting it out there. I'll let you get a little rest first, before I come calling.

We've got this.

Cindy Gerhardt
Do You Know A Hero?
Do you know someone in your school or county that has been a hero to their community?  Have they given of their time to help provide food, clothing or shelter to those in need?  Do they reach beyond the walls of the school and look for ways that they can give back? 

If the answer is YES, please send me their story!  I'd like to recognize a few of our HEROES during this year's Leadership Convention.  Feel free to include pics!  

If you submit their information as a surprise to them, please let me know that in your email.  I look forward to reading some incredible stories!!


I am writing this article on May 4th and cannot help but channel my inner nerd. So, may the "fourth be with you". I would now like to expound upon this subject and also celebrate Stars Wars with our audience. Whether you like/love/or hate Star Wars, there is a philosophy to be learned. Please hang in there with me and it will also let us know who is reading.
  • Just like the Jedi, our leaders need to go through an enlightening training.
  • This training will include ways on how to work with those around you peacefully.
  • It will help you to develop skills in how to deal with those in the Republic and make the world a better place.
  • Leader training will help you to channel the energies of the troops around you to be effective.
  • Our training will also teach you the ways of the force and how to avoid the dark side.
  • We want our leaders to be well prepared, so that they can train their padawans in the ways of the force.
We would like to see many of you at our training and want to help you with the skills and resources that you need to run your local unit and grow future leaders. PTA has incredibly important work to accomplish and we need all of you to bring change and work for a better future for "All Our Children". Thank you!
See you in July,
Robin DeVault
Leadership Management Chair

 Voting Delegates for Leadership Convention
Procedure: Voting Delegates at Leadership Convention 2018
As this is an election year at Leadership Convention, all attendees (including voting delegates) must bring a valid ID to register at Leadership Convention 2018.
Per the Florida PTA Bylaws, voting delegates are elected by the general membership or Board of Directors. Please refer to the Florida PTA Bylaws, Article XVI: State Convention, Section 3 (set out below).
FLORIDA PTA BYLAWS: Article XVI: State Convention
Section 3. Each local association that has forwarded its individual membership dues as shown on the books in the state office as of May 1, shall be entitled to be represented at the annual convention by its president or an alternate officer, and one delegate or alternate, plus one delegate or alternate for each one hundred members or major fraction thereof. Newly charted and reinstated PTAs which have come into membership with the Florida PTA after May 1, shall be entitled to the same ratio of representation as other PTA units. These voting delegates and their alternates shall be elected in an open meeting or at a meeting of the executive board and shall have been members in the unit for at least thirty days prior to the time of their election.
Each county council shall be entitled to be represented at the convention and region meetings by its president or an alternate officer and one additional delegate or alternate for each ten local units or major fraction thereof in council membership, the delegates and alternates to be elected by the executive board or in open session.
According to the above-referenced Bylaws requirement, Florida PTA cannot make changes to voting delegate status at Leadership Convention, without presenting signed meeting minutes from the local unit (or County Council) PTA.
If you have any questions, please contact Jean Hovey ( executive.director@floridapta.org) or 407/855-7604, ext. 301.
Leadership Learning Moments
Florida PTA Leadership Development Commission has been putting together some short videos showing different scenarios that might come up during PTA interactions.  Take a look at the latest two videos, but also check out the rest on our YouTube page!

Leadership Learning Moment #6:
Nominating Committees

Leadership Learning Moment #7:
Conflict Resolution

Welcome to spring which means summer is peeking around the corner.  Can you believe there are just under 10 days of school remaining? It seems like we just started. As we round out our year it is a great time to re-focus on reflection: what worked and what didn't? This will help the incoming leaders be more prepared when planning their calendar. We cannot continue to run programs or events "because that is the way we've always done them". When reflecting, it is important to take the feedback from our peers, families and administration on how we can improve. It is okay to have constructive criticism if that is all it is; feedback should never become personal. Take notes of the pro's and the con's and apply them. As leaders, we must always want to give our families and communities programs and events that will serve them as needed. If a program/event no longer works or does not seem to fit anymore, it is okay to change it up. Maybe select a different program and try it out. A break from the old could bring in new perspective. This is not a reflection on a person or an idea, just a different approach to engage our families. If you ever need guidance, your leaders are here for you and ready to assist when you need us!
It has been an honor to serve as your Vice President for Leadership Development for these past two years. I have enjoyed traveling to your counties and visiting with community members and local/county leaders. Thank you for all that you do on a daily basis for ALL CHILDREN!
Learning and growing,

Jen Martinez
Vice President of Leadership Development
From the Leadership Development Commission

 School of Excellence

There are two types of PTA folks: those who know what School of Excellence is, and those who don't. Okay, there are some others, but you see where I'm going here. No matter which group you fall into, unless you've gone through the School of Excellence process, you may not be familiar with all it has to offer, and how you can strut your PTA stuff with this National PTA designation! I'll let you in on a little secret, Florida PTA local units have led the nation over the last several years in School of Excellence designations. We need you to keep the streak going!

 Student Involvement
Wow what a great two years it has been for the Student Involvement Committee. We have been hard at work taking in your ideas on how students can be more involved with their school and their community and it always starts with ASK. Make sure when you have an event, ask the students to help, ask them for assistance and foremost ASK THEM TO SHOW UP! Most students, when they see others going, they will go too!
Many of our local units have asked what are your ideas for Student Involvement and my answer is, always make sure you talk to your other local units. Share ideas and make them your own. Work with other local units and find out what makes them successful. My goal for my final three months is to see great collaboration at Leadership Convention and hear some amazing stories. Please come find me and let's talk about what is amazing at your school!
The Student Involvement Committee has been hard at work to get students involved in PTA. This year we are offering a student reduced rate for students 19 and younger for Leadership Convention. You will learn more about certain topics. We also want students to take classes that THEY want to take to see what their future may hold. Once registration opens we are challenging the county councils to see what county will send the most students. Those students will attend classes and enjoy the convention as a participant. Stay tuned for more details!
So students COME ONE, COME ALL TO LEADERSHIP CONVENTION and learn and see what your future holds! Don't forget your voices count! Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and SNAPchat as well. We will provide more information shortly. It has been an honor and privilege being the Student Involvement Chair for these past 2 years and I can't wait to see what's next!!!
Joe Piecora
Student Involvement Committee Chair
May is National Mental Health Month
Growing Among Mental Illness

What's it like growing up with a mother who suffered from severe depression, a brother who was bipolar, and another brother who had severe ADD and was an alcoholic drug addict at a young age? In my case, since I didn't know then what I know now, it was normal. Whatever issues we had we dealt with quietly and as a family. Back 45-50 years ago, mental health issues were swept under the rug because of the stigma attached to mental health. We've come a long way with treatments but we have a long way to go. We still have to get over the stigma of mental health and realize that just like in my family, there are moms, brothers, dads, and sisters who have mental health issues. We need to know that talking about it is okay; it's not a sign of weakness but of strength. I'll share my story with anyone who asks, it doesn't have a happy ending I wish it did. The stigma of mental illness will never go away if we don't accept that's it's a part of life. We need to continue the conversation and continue to advocate for more funding for mental health services.
Debbie Sawa-Szostak
Florida PTA Health & Wellness Chair

 Apply for a Reflections Grant - Deadline is June 30th
For 50 years, the National PTA Reflections arts program has helped millions of students explore their own thoughts, feelings and ideas, develop artistic literacy, increase confidence and find a love for learning that will help them become more successful in school and in life.

The program's golden year vision is to inspire all students and their families to participate in educational activities and celebratory events. In honor of the program's milestone and respect to its purpose and vision, National PTA challenges all PTAs to spark creativity and learning fun by hosting Reflections educational activities for all students to participate in and learn through the arts.

Tell us your plans on how you will deliver Reflections educational activities to all children at your school  and be considered for a National PTA Reflections Grant! National PTA will honor the commitment of two applicants for their projects that will aim to increase access to high quality arts learning and increase participation in PTA Reflections. 2018 Reflections Grants provide your PTA the opportunity to match National PTA's Mary Lou Anderson Endowment dollars with that of school and community partners to accomplish arts education projects.

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