Parent Teacher Organization
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A Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) is a formal organization that consists of parents, teachers and school staff. The organization's goals may vary from organization to organization, but essentially the goals include volunteerism of parents, encouragement of teachers and students, community involvement, and welfare of students and families. It is not affiliated with Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) or Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA.) PTA is a national association of millions of members and thousands of local units that provides leadership training and staff support.
Goals and/or mission statement
Individual organizations typically establish goals and/or a mission statement. Here is a sample PTO Mission Statement from the New Franklin School PTO:
The New Franklin School PTO is a nonprofit parent/teacher organization whose membership includes all parents, legal guardians and staff at New Franklin Elementary School.
The PTO's mission is to promote open communication and understanding between parents and staff of the New Franklin Elementary School. Our efforts serve to enhance and maximize the education of every child while aiding them in achieving their highest potential.
The PTO sponsors assistance to teachers in classroom setting, holds fund-raisers for supplemental educational materials and experiences, supports school and family social interaction, and provides a non-biased forum for sharing information on issues that impact our children.
It is our belief that the team effort of a parent teacher organization offers the best possible learning environment for our children.
A PTO generally consists of a board. These members may include a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. They may also include various specialty positions, such as hospitality or programs. The board typically governs the PTO by creating and voting on meeting dates, general meeting programs, etc.
PTO versus PTA
A PTO is not the same as Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). They are similar in that both promote parent participation, but PTA takes a more active role in developing programs, advocacy and training. PTA operates at the school building, district, state and national levels and works on policy to better support children. Local PTA units set their own goals and missions, but they also join together to advocate and partner as a larger group. PTA is membership based and uses money from dues to offer staff support and grants, and to develop national programs, such as their Reflections arts in education program and their Standards for Family-School Partnerships implementation guide. A PTO is unaffiliated, local and does not pay dues to a national umbrella organization.
PTO's encourage parent, teacher and community involvement by providing programs that facilitate so. These activities may include bicycle safety, drug awareness, energy conservation, reading programs, science programs, math programs and pedestrian safety.
PTO parents get involved by supporting their students, teachers and staff. Parents can volunteer to be room parents to assist with class parties or field trips. They can help set up at a carnival or health fair. They can help teachers and staff by making copies for the class.
For teachers and staff
Teachers and staff may become involved by helping to plan events that encourage the education of the students. These may include workshops, tutoring or special family nights (math, science, reading).
The students reap the benefits by the involvement and support of all the adults involved in the PTO. The PTO supports the educational goals of the school, thus extending those goals to the students.
- "PTO Today: Ideas, Help and Advice for PTO/PTA Groups". PTO Today. Retrieved 2008-11-15.
- "MJS Software: PTO/PTA Organizational Software". MJS Software. Retrieved 2011-09-12.