Active PTO helps encourage reading

By Joan Hunt - ReminderNews Managing Editor
Suffield - posted Sat., Apr. 23, 2011
Students in Mrs. Franz’s third grade class at McAlister Intermediate School learn about the importance of the writing process. Courtesy photos. - Contributed Photo

The main goal of the Parent Teacher Organization shared by Spaulding and McAlister schools in Suffield is to raise funds for enrichment programs that benefit each and every student at those schools. Co-presidents Kelly Wright and Patricia Reilly are sisters, for whom keeping parents and teachers on the same page has always been important.

“I previously taught in Enfield,” said Wright, who plans on going back to teaching once her son – a kindergartner at Spaulding School – is in school full-time. She said the communication between home and school is critical, and one of the major objectives of the PTO.

Reilly has a third-grader at McAlister Intermediate School, and that is where her focus as co-president lies. “She has served on other school-related committees and chaired some of the subcommittees at the school,” said her sister.

In addition to the co-presidents, there are co-secretaries representing the two schools, two vice presidents of committees and three treasurers – one to write checks, one who does deposits and one for general accounting. This is a very organized PTO. “We have a ‘help wanted’ form this year that details all the events we have throughout the year and how you can help as a parent, guardian or family member,” said Wright.

They also are trying to be “green.” The Digital Backpack online is a very user-friendly way for parents to stay connected with things that are going on in their schools without having to rely on reams of paper getting sent home that, let’s face it, often gets lost en route.

Coming soon, on May 5, is the Spaulding PE night, which includes a spring book fair and the class basket fundraiser for the PTO. Visitors can take advantage of a buy one, get one free book fair, an ice cream social to raise money for the school playground, a display of what students do throughout the year in PE and purchase baskets created by classes of students, which helps support enrichment activities throughout the year.

A similar event is scheduled at McAlister School for May 12. In addition to its Scholastic Book Fair and class baskets fundraiser, there will be a new Science Night, which will include hands-on activities based on the science curriculum for grades three through five. “The New England Air Museum will also have a booth set up in the fifth grade hallway,” said Reilly.

“We just finished our Munson’s fundraiser, which was an overall success, and we raised a lot of money. Students are almost finished participating in their million page read, that they have been working hard at,” Reilly said.

Sounds like these might be full-time jobs for the sisters, but Kelly has also found time to write a children’s book, and another is soon to follow. The book, “Blarney Stays Home,” is illustrated with photographs taken of the family dog by her son Liam, a kindergarten student in Mrs. DiRoberts’ class at Spaulding Elementary. The two of them have been visiting schools in Connecticut and Massachusetts talking about the importance of the writing process and telling about Blarney, the dog they rescued three years ago from a shelter in Arkansas.

“With Liam being the same age as many of the students... it shows the students they can achieve their goals at any age,” said Wright.

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