As a fairly seasoned PTA volunteer, I thought it would helpful to ask a fellow PTA volunteer to share her thoughts on attending the California State PTA convention. I have asked a first timer not only to being a PTA Leader as the Unit President but also to attending the California State PTA’s convention recently held in San Diego to share her thoughts on her experience to attending the convention. In her own words, meet Claudia Camacho, mother of four children, and PTA President for Hawthorne Elementary PTA.
Celeste Bobryk-Ozaki, President, San Diego Unified Council of PTAs
My First Convention
“First Timer,” was written on the first ribbon I received at the 2016 PTA convention. This phrase was appropriate for me because although I have always been involved in my children’s schools I have never been part of a PTA. I am currently the PTA president at Hawthorne Elementary in Clairemont, a positon I felt I was thrown into! Ha! I initially had no idea what I was doing, I had very little to go on from the previous board, and I am so glad that my unit voted to send two board members to convention this year. I learned so much!
I did not know what to expect that first day of convention but just being in the same space as other people with the same goal/mission was amazing! I learned that students can be part of PTA units without having to be a PTSA, I learned that there are actually five levels of PTA, I also learned about networking, advocating on a local and national level, and of course I came away with new fundraising ideas! The workshops offered covered a wide range of topics and I was disappointed that it was impossible to attend them all because of the way they were scheduled. The general meetings were long and at times drawn out but Justine Fischer, who is California State PTA president was really good about keeping time without putting people off. The meetings of course are very important because it is really the only time that the California State PTA can meet with the association. I estimate that each meeting had about 2,000 members in attendance!
I think that my favorite part overall was meeting the sponsors and vendors. I now feel knowledgeable about what is offered to elementary schools in my area and how our PTA, students, and our school can benefit form certain programs. I have been bombarded with emails from people wanting to do business with our school ever since convention and still need to sort through most of them!
I was so inspired by the meetings, workshops, vendors, and sponsors that I actually brought my own children on the third day of convention. They enjoyed meeting everyone and learning about democracy and how voting really does count! It was a great learning experience for them. Convention is great for kids but I wish there would have been more activities for them to participate in. I would recommend convention to any member of PTA because there is truly something for everyone whether you’re a “First Timer” or a seasoned pro. I hear next year’s convention will be in San Jose…make a plan to go, you won’t regret it!