The Ocean Avenue Elementary School (OAES) Parent Teacher Organization (OAPTO) hosted the first Parent Teacher Organization/Association (PTO/PTA) Networking and Resource Exchange in the evening on Monday, December 2, 2013. Board leaders from nine Portland Public School elementary organizations, their volunteers, and constituents were invited to meet, learn, and exchange information at the event designed to strengthen, unify, and celebrate their in Portland’s Public Schools (PPS). The schools included, East End Community, Hall and Many Rivers, Longfellow, Lyseth, Ocean Avenue, Presumpscot, Reiche, and Riverton.
Sylvie Montello, PPS Community Coordinator, and event planning committee member, spoke to attendees about the impact of their work citing several examples, including the greening of school grounds resulting in programs where children plant seeds in the school gardens that grow into vegetables for lunch. She also spoke about enrichment programs that provide children with before and after school activities and opportunities to learn beyond the classroom that are funded and organized in large part by volunteer parent teacher groups.
Catherine Anderson, OAES parent and Cross Cultural Committee Co-Chair, spoke to attendees about multiculturalism and engagement. Catherine encouraged us to increase awareness of the ethnic, racial, and socio-economic diversity in our community and challenge ourselves to create new, inclusive ways to interface with children, families, caregivers, and communities. Catherine extended an invitation to attend a Martin Luther King day planning meeting on Monday, December 9, 6:00 pm at the One Tree Holistic Learning Center in South Portland. To get more involved in the Ocean Avenue Cross Cultural Committee, contact Catherine.
Pirun Sen, Community Coordinator at the PPS Multilingual and Multicultural Center, provided attendees with a brief history about ethnic and cultural diversity changes in the City of Portland. Pirun offered to provide organizations with suggestions on how to increase the diversity of Board leadership resulting in more inclusive organizations that reflect the populations we serve.
The remainder of the event was devoted to networking among the attendees and ended with interest in continuing discussions, dialogue, and meetings about topics such as curriculum, the upcoming referendum on school renovations and build outs, and more.
About the Cross Cultural Committee
The Cross Cultural Committee works to engage OAE students and their families in open dialog around diversity. The committee organizes I’m Your Neighbor, a project which promotes the use of children’s literature featuring “new arrival” cultures and groups to engage the entire community in a discussion of commonalities and differences, and will work with the NAACP Portland branch to create activities for children at city-wide 2014 MLK celebration.