STEM will resume this Friday, August 29, 2014, from 3-5 pm in room 28. For the first phase of STEM, we will be focusing on the Lego Robotics cooperatition (it’s a Lego word). This will last for approximately 12-14 weeks, culminating in Mira Vista hosting our 2nd annual qualifier tournament in early November.
For this portion of STEM, we are inviting anyone from 4th-8th grades to come be a part of our fourth year of participation in Lego Robotics Challenge. We are unfortunately limiting enrollment because you must be 9 years of age to participate in First Lego League. (There is a division and program for children under 9 if anyone in the community is interested in running it. The grade restriction for STEM participation will be lifted when we resume after the tournament!)
So, we hope to see you on Friday at 3pm. The challenge is being released this Tuesday so we will have a lot of planning and discussing to get through. Parents, please feel free to come with your child and see what we are up to. We are always grateful for helping hands. Let us know if you have any questions! It’s going to be a great year at Mira Vista!!!
Mrs. Cruger-Hansen’s DonorsChoose project for a 4th- and 5th-grade book club has been fully funded thanks to some lovely families and a very generous matching gift from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Next up is Mrs. Van der Meer’s project to help 8th-graders absorb and understand the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and Bill of Rights. If you donate to this project by Sunday, August 24, the Gates Foundation will match your funds.
Got a few dollars to spare? Help some 8th-graders become experts on their own government. Here’s the link.
Update: This project has been funded! Thank you to all our generous supporters.
Thinking about volunteering to be a room parent for your child’s classroom this year? That puts you in an elite group of people we like to call Heroes, also known as the Awesome Ones and the Party Makers.
What is a room parent, exactly?
A room parent coordinates the parents of kids in a classroom to provide the extra help that makes the difference between a dull year and an exciting one filled with enrichment and social activities. A room parent is a resource specialist, someone who loves working with people, making new friends, and throwing parties.
Here are just a few ways that room parents help out their class:
Maintain regular contact with the teacher to learn about upcoming events and volunteer needs
Develop a contact list for all parents and send out emails to keep parents up to date on classroom needs
Organize parent chaperones for field trips
Coordinate food, supplies, and helpers for classroom parties and other special events
Organize teacher appreciation gifts
I work during the day; can I still be a room parent?
Absolutely. You do not have to be present for all (or any) of the events; your job is to make sure that other parents will be there to help out. You can even share the job with another parent in the class. Your time commitment will vary, but even during the busiest times of the year your room parent responsibilities should not take up more than an hour or two a week. Reach out to other parents—many of them would love to help but don’t know what’s needed or even how to ask. Your most important task as a room parent is to share information so you can match opportunities with eager volunteers.
OK, how do I get started?
Sign up. Let your child’s teacher know as soon as possible that you are interested in becoming a room parent. If the teacher receives more than one request, s/he may suggest that two parents share the job.
Talk to the teacher about methods of communication that work best for both of you. Some teachers are very comfortable with email; others prefer phone calls or meeting in person. Compatible communication between room parent(s) and teacher is key to a successful relationship and a pleasant school year. If your schedule prevents you from spending much time on campus, mention this early on to your teacher to make sure it won’t be a problem.
Set up deadlines that work for both of you; for example, your teacher needs to let you know about any volunteer needs at least one week in advance.
Network. If this is not your first year as a Mira Vista parent, chances are you already know many of the parents in your child’s class. If you’re new to the school, welcome! Introduce yourself, either in person or electronically. Let everybody know you are the point of contact for all volunteer opportunities and will be talking to them about upcoming events.
Collect the contact information for each family (parents’ names, phone numbers, email addresses, preferred form of communication) from your teacher. If s/he doesn’t get this information at the beginning of the year, you may want to suggest putting out a sign-up sheet on Back to School Night. Set up an email list for your communications and a printed spreadsheet to send home to all parents in the weekly folder.
Ask your teacher for a tentative schedule of events for the year, including holiday parties, special events (such as an art or science project that requires extra adult supervision), and field trips. Check in with him/her regularly to make sure these dates don’t change. Also check the PTA calendar online for schoolwide events to avoid scheduling conflicts.
Imagine. Room parent can be a very creative job! You will be coming up with themes for parties (get some input from your teacher about these) and teacher and volunteer appreciation activities. If you’re ever feeling stuck, hit the internet. Pinterest has everything. Room parents and teachers may also choose to do a public service project, such as collecting food or toiletries for a homeless shelter.
Broadcast. Share the information you get from your teacher with the parent group. Email works best for many people; you will find that others prefer phone calls or texts or even notes sent home in the weekly folder. Send reminders as events get closer, and let parents know about any food restrictions in the class. Nut allergies are common, and each class usually has some students who avoid some or all types of meat for religious or personal reasons.
Delegate. Room parents DO NOT do everything themselves. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and try not to rely on the same small group of parents to do the same jobs every time. Reach out to new people with simple requests.
I can totally do this! What else do I need to know?
You will be dealing with a diverse group of personalities and cultural norms. A good room parent is sensitive to these differences and knows how to make them work for the group. Some parents like to help in person; others prefer to send snacks, supplies, or even cash. Some like to lead; others like to follow. Some are much more comfortable volunteering if someone they already know well is involved; ask your regular volunteers for suggestions when looking for more help. Some parents simply can’t or won’t get involved, and there’s not much you can do about that. Work with what you have.
On the subject of cash, often teachers like to ask for funds to cover things like pizza or cake so no one parent is stuck paying for them. Always let your group know that this is a suggested donation.
If there simply aren’t enough parents or resources available to make an event work, let your teacher know as soon as possible to discuss alternative solutions.
You don’t have to join the PTA to be a room parent, but it helps! PTA meetings are a great place to learn what’s going on in your school, meet potential volunteers among your classroom parents, share knowledge with other room parents, and voice your concerns to the greater community.
An enthusiastic welcome to all our returning students and our new families! The Mira Vista PTA is already busy planning and preparing for a great first week back and beyond. Our membership team has met and our Fall Festival committee is under way; we’re pulling together some great events and activities for the start of school. We are very excited about what we have going on this year and we hope you are too.
Here are a few important upcoming dates and events to know about:
August 15 1:00 pm – Middle School Orientation
August 18 - First Day of School (minimum day)
September 1 - Labor Day – no school
September 10 – first PTA meeting, 7 pm in the teacher’s lounge — free childcare provided!
September 11 – Back to School Night 6:30 -8 pm
On our first day of school, we’ll have free coffee and pastries at our welcome back table. Stop by, meet your PTA, and pick up some forms. Or, hey, you know, just have some free coffee!
DonorsChoose is one of the pioneers of crowdfunding. Every school year, Mira Vista teachers request and receive much-needed supplies for special classroom projects, thanks to the efforts of our generous families. If you can, click on the link and make a small donation—even $5 makes a difference. Other ways to help: email this link to extended family members or friends or post it on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter. If your employer has a matching program for charitable gifts, mention DonorsChoose to your human resources manager.