Timothy Becker: Before we get started, what is happening with the April School vacation in Manchester?
Jackie Madore: The Manchester Board of Education has decided that the first two days originally scheduled for vacation, April 18 and 19 will be school days. If more snow days are called, then Wednesday and Thursday of that week will be added to the schedule, then the last week of June will be used if necessary.
Timothy Becker: What is your position with the PTA?
Jackie Madore: I'm President of the Town Wide PTA Council and also Region One Director of the CT PTSA (Connecticut Parent Teacher Student Association)
Timothy Becker: What groups do you oversee?
Jackie Madore: The Town Wide PTA Council includes the PTAs from all ten elementary schools in Manchester, Bennet Academy, Illing Middle School, Manchester High School, SPEPTA (Special Education PTA), and the Manchester Early Learning Center PTA. We have about 900 members.
Timothy Becker: How do you communicate with your members?
Jackie Madore: We have a monthly meeting that rotates around the various schools and is attended by the presidents of each PTA and is open to the public. The host school then gives a presentation on what is happening at that school. We recently had a Shakespeare company that does art enrichment programs present a skit at the meeting. Some of the schools are signing on with that program. A Board of Education staff member attends and a Board of Education member rotates attendance at our meetings. We also communicate every week by e-mail, and information is updated on our Facebook page.
Timothy Becker: What are the latest issues that you are discussing?
Jackie Madore: There is a pilot program being talked about for uniforms at Illing Middle School. The Principal Troy Monroe, the PTA ,and the parents that attended two forums, have supported the idea. The proposal is for uniform dress that includes three colors of polo shirts and slacks. The average cost to outfit a student is about $35. We are also discussing the impact of moving students from Highland Park School to Buckley and Martin schools during the year long renovation starting this fall. There is also a proposal for a spring 2012 referendum for renovation of Washington and Nathan Hale schools.
Timothy Becker: What activities does your organization sponsor?
Jackie Madore: Last week we sponsored “Rachel's Challenge” at Manchester High School. Rachel Scott was one of the first students shot at Columbine High School. An essay she wrote shortly before her death spoke about her idea of starting a chain reaction of kindness and compassion. All grades received training during the school day and an evening session was held for parents.
Over 150 students signed up for the “Friends of Rachel Club” that is to be formed under the direction of Heidi Macchi, the outreach social worker for the schools.
In the past we sponsored a program on bullying. We also sponsored an arts enrichment program called “Bash the Trash” at all ten elementary schools that teaches students how to recycle and make musical instruments from recycled materials. We are having “Take your family to school week” at Bowers where the parent becomes the child for a day. On June 11 we are sponsoring a town-wide science fair for grades four through eight at Illing Middle School.
Timothy Becker: How did you get started with the PTA?
Jackie Madore: I joined in 1993 when my youngest child was in kindergarten. I began volunteering and getting involved. I became president of Bowers PTA during 2005-06 and became Town-wide PTA Council President from 2007 to 2009. I was vice-president for a year and then became president again in 2010.
Timothy Becker: What message would you like to send to parents?
Jackie Madore: I would like more parents to come out to join us. We are not the typical homemade cookie fundraisers. Our membership is up ten percent at six of the elementary schools. They do have a say and need to voice their opinion. I would like parents to call their child's school principal or send an e-mail message to a school board member to voice their concerns.
A small group of parents can have a huge impact on school policy. Last year we got the word out regardings plans to scale back music programs. A group of about ten parents voiced their concerns and the programs were restored. We have a conference in Washington, D.C., to work on legislation. We were a big part of changing nutrition requiremnets.
When PTAs in Manchester were having a problem with the State Department of Special Revenue over Bingo games PTA's held for a family fun night, I worked with former State Rep. Ryan Barry who sponsored and got passed, a bill in 2008 entitled “An Act Creating an Exemption from permit requirements for PTA conducted Bingo.” Now PTAs can hold Bingo nights for fun without all the licensing requirements.
Our motto is : “One voice for every child” and PTAs are that voice. One person can make a difference.