May 21, 2020

6 Ways To Get Involved With The Parent Association

by Stephanie Duffy, 2019/20 Parent Association President

As you are most likely aware, the spirit of community (Kehilah) and inclusion are very strong at The McGillis School. I believe they are some of the School’s strongest assets. Every student and parent is welcome, valued, and encouraged to be involved at McGillis.

One of the ways to engage in, benefit from, and contribute to the McGillis Kehilah, is to participate in the Parent Association (PA). As the link between the families and teachers, administration, and staff, the PA provides many opportunities for parents to volunteer and join in the many activities and events that take place at the School.

Personally, I have enjoyed volunteering as a Room Rep because it helped me get to know parents and teachers in my children’s classes. It also forced me to stay on top of everything happening at McGillis, which is always quite a bit! Working on committees and events like the Art Show, Brownies-in-a-Bag, and Grandfriends Day not only allowed me to help the School with important community-building initiatives, but the work was fun! And as a member of the PA Executive Board, I have been happy to help plan the various programs that make the environment so unique and dynamic.

Because McGillis is a pretty lean organization, the contributions of parent volunteers are directly felt throughout the community, whether it be through assisting communication, fundraising, facilitating social and educational events, or promoting the McGillis values and culture. Volunteering allows parents to live some of the School’s core values, including Tzedakah (the act of giving freely to others), and Gemilut Hasadim (doing good and kind deeds). Working with the PA, I have personally felt appreciated, and have experienced a real sense of partnership between families and The School.

As a McGillis parent, you are automatically a member of the PA and there is a wide range of volunteer options available, depending on your time, flexibility, skills, and interests. Even for busy parents who may not be able to spend a lot of time in the building, there is something for everyone out there. 

There are many ways to be involved with the Parent Association: 

  1. Attend Parent Association events including monthly Coffee Klatch or Coffee Klatch and Conversation sessions. The informal Coffee Klatches allow parents to mingle over coffee and breakfast, while the handful of annual Coffee Klatch & Conversation events invite parents to listen to presentations and engage in conversations on a variety of timely and relevant topics.
  2. Volunteer as a Room Representative. Every year, a Room Rep is assigned to each class. Room reps are responsible for communicating with the parents in their class from time to time, to inform them of upcoming events, ask for volunteers, etc. Room reps play a key role in keeping our community in the loop on important school events.
  3. Participate on a Committee. The PA helps facilitate numerous events and activities that are beloved by the community. During Brownies-in-a-Bag, volunteers help students assemble brownie mix, which is sold to raise money for the Utah Food Bank and for the School. For our annual Grandfriends Day, Art Show, and Book Fairs, parent volunteers help prepare for and run the events. And there are many ways to get involved with planning and facilitating the McGillis Gala.
  4. Serve on the PA Executive Board. The Executive Board meets monthly and includes a President-Elect, President, Past President, Secretary, Volunteer Coordinator, and Room Rep Coordinator. The board helps plan social and educational events, organizes the committees, works with the room reps, and identifies volunteers for all of the PA-related events and activities.
  5. Help out in the Library. Our Librarian, Heather Novotny is a one-woman show, so she depends on volunteers to help students check out books, re-shelf returned books, and process new library acquisitions.
  6. Get involved with our Jewish traditions. Each year we gather helpers to build a Sukkah for our annual Sukkot Family Potluck, and to prep and serve food for the traditional Seders held throughout the year. 

If you are interested in being a Room Rep, a committee chairperson, or a PA Executive Board member, please contact Megan Jones at . Full committee descriptions and sign-ups will be available online at the beginning of the 2020/2021 school year. I hope you can find something that suits your skills and interests!

A few current and previous PA Executive Board members shared some of their experiences with being a PA member:

  • “I first got involved with PA by becoming a Room Rep nine years ago and my love for the McGillis community began there. It was the best way to meet new families, students and staff. Through the years, when it has been hard to help the school by donating financially, I have always believed that being involved with the PA was a great way to give back.” ~ Marlie Kilcrease, PA President-Elect, frequent volunteer, and Mom of two (2) Magpies
  • “Being a member of the PA Executive Board for the past two years, as well as being a former Room Rep has given me the opportunity to spend more time in the school, to build stronger relationships with my children’s teachers, and to get to know people with children across many grades. Being involved with the PA has also allowed me to fully appreciate how the events at McGillis are geared toward building and strengthening our school community.” ~ Amy Bahna, PA Secretary, former Room Rep, and Mom of three (3) Magpies
  • PA truly unites the community. I have made lifelong friends through PA, and I got to know the faculty and staff on a personal level. Being involved gave me an outlet for all the massively amazing positive energy I feel towards McGillis. I always felt listened to and appreciated, and I believe that the PA is a conduit for ALL McGillis families to give feedback and praise to the School.” ~ Mo Schiffman, former PA President, committee chair, and Mom of three (3) Magpies
  • “I have enjoyed being on various committees because it has allowed me to get to know the School so well. I have been to the basement to find decorations; I know where the folding tables are stored (in multiple locations!), and where to find silverware for Coffee Klatches. Perhaps most importantly, I know how much whipped cream to dole out on Pancake Bar Day. But even better I have gotten to know the people who make the School run: Miss Bridget and her crew, the front desk staff, administration, the advancement team, and many of the teachers. Being involved has made me feel so much more comfortable being in the School. Much like it's nice to be given a job at a party, it's wonderful to have a role in the School and help make things happen.” – Kate Reymann, PA Past President, committee chair, and Mom of a 5th grader
  • "Being involved with the PA has really made me feel like a part of the McGillis community. It gives parents a chance to be involved with something special, something unique, something bigger than ourselves. As parents, we are investing our time and talents to provide experiences and opportunities for our students."  ~ KJ Stark, PA Volunteer Coordinator & Mom of two (2) Magpies