Category: Meeting Minutes

PTA Meeting Minutes October 7, 2019

Treasurer’s Report
● Current account status: We currently have $18,402 in the bank account; an additional $975 arrived today from the Omaha Schools Foundation.
● Our tax filing is complete for the year. Past versions of our 990 form have indicated that the fiscal year ends on July 31, but the IRS says it ends on June 30. Rebecca has adjusted our budget to reflect this.
● Budget/Expense updates:
○ We have hit our projections for membership dues.
○ We are budgeting for $700 in TAGG revenue. Rebecca asks that members
continue to use their TAGG app
○ PTA picnic: We were over budget by about $20
○ We have currently used about 50% of the teacher reimbursement fund.
● Rebecca would like to organize a budget committee to help make decisions about extra revenue, reallocating funds as needed, looking at shortfalls, etc. The goal is that we keep our budget dynamic rather than stagnant from year to year.

Principal’s Report
● Mrs. Herzog has organized a Girls’ Night Out. This evening will focus on authentic friendship and is intended to empower girls to help combat the “drama” that is often found in the 5th and 6th grade. Juniors and seniors from South High will also attend to mentor
● Report cards will be distributed at Parent/Teacher Conferences. Conference times will stay the same in the spring as in the fall unless otherwise requested.
● October 31 is Harrison’s annual Trick-or-Trunk parade and Halloween classroom activities. An alternative activity will be provided in the library for students who do not participate. Mr. Morris will do a safety check beforehand for those community members who are handing out treats.
● The winter program will be held on December 13 at 9:30 and 1:30. Band and strings will only perform in the afternoon.
● Harrison is partnering with Championship Martial Arts to provide an after school Martial Arts Club for several weeks. Students pay $25 to participate, and all the money goes directly to the school.

● Dr. Haynes is still looking for coaches for both the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams. Any Harrison parent or OPS staff member can coach. The time commitment is typically 1 night/week for practice and 1 night/week for games.
● Dr. Haynes is working with Hillside Solutions to find a way to continue our composting program. There was a problem with maggots on the side of the building where our compost totes were stored.

Committee Updates
Staff Appreciation:
● PTA will provide a staff dinner of chicken and lasagna from HyVee for Wednesday’s conference night.
● This year, staff will receive Eileen’s Cookies to celebrate birthdays.
● We are currently looking for ideas for our annual staff holiday gifts. The budget is around $5 per staff member.
BASH:
● The Bash Committee is still looking for donations. One possible idea is to donate a house party. Simply determine your theme and how many spots you are willing to host. Please talk to Molly Carpenter if you are interested in donating a house party.
● Sarah Wynn and Deb Heimes are working on securing the food for the Bash. It will likely be from Raisin’ Canes as it was last year.
● Charlotte Shafer has sent out a sign-up genius regarding themes for classroom baskets.
Robotics:
● Frank Luceri shared a little about the selection process. Teachers fill out a rubric in the event that there are more applicants than available spots.
● Practices will begin in November.
● Harrison will host a tournament on Saturday, February 15th. We welcome volunteers to help with concessions, set-up, etc.
Yearbook:
● Please continue to send any pictures to Annie Johnson. She will be collecting pictures through Valentine’s Day.
Star Grants:
● Scott shared that we had budgeted $2400 for Star Grants. We received requests totaling roughly $3000. We had $500 budgeted for Dancing Classrooms, but this program will likely need to be funded with other grants if possible. Scott suggested that we reallocate that money to fund the remaining grants. Angela Smith moved to vote on the motion.
The motion was carried.

New Business
● A new member has suggested hosting some sort of grandparents’ event at the school. Dr. Haynes suggested scheduling a day when grandparents could come for lunch (maybe in the spring). A read-and-feed is also a possible idea. Please let PTA know if you are interested in helping plan such an event.
● The PTA board is interested in forming a Cultural Diversity Committee. Harrison is such a wonderfully diverse community, and we strive to make our school community more inclusive. Some ideas are: Buddy programs for school events (BASH, Carnival, etc), International Day, a school cookbook, Culture Fest, the Thrive program (this is an afterschool program designed for kids from different cultures), World Fest, etc. Rebecca Firestone is the point person on this committee. Please email the Harrison PTA if you are interested.
Guest Speaker: Melissa Cleaver from Common Sense Media
Melissa Cleaver shared some eye-opening statistics: Did you know that that the average age a child receives his/her first cell phone is ten? That 98% of kids ages 0-8 have access to a mobile device in their home? That a third of all screen time is on a mobile device?
Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org) provides guidance on how to navigate the digital age with our children. The website has information on multiple topics, including:
· how to know when to buy a smartphone for your child
· how to handle/avoid digital drama
· popular apps such as Snapchat or TikTok
Parents can look up information by topic or by age. The website als provides the Parents’ Ultimate Guide to websites like Roblox, YouTube, etc.
In addition, parents can receive weekly text message tips on technology balance. Simply text 21555, type in the words “kids,” and fill out the survey to get started.

PTA Meeting Minutes August 26, 2019

Welcome

  • Four Important to-do’s:
    • Meet someone new
    • Complete membership forms by Sept. 6th
    • Volunteer to help
    • Subscribe to the online calendar

Treasurer’s Report

  • Rebecca discussed sources of revenue:
    • Bash – this is our biggest fundraiser
    • Carnival – last year was our biggest year. We raised $2500; after expenses, we made a profit of around $800.
    • Hearts for Harrison – This is a direct giving campaign through the Omaha Schools Foundation. Last year, we raised $1500 without even campaigning. We would like to raise more this year. People can donate online (and earmark donations for specific projects/classrooms). We hope that Harrison families will encourage other family members to donate as well.
    • TAGG
    • Penny Wars – this is a competition between classrooms that takes place closer to the middle of the school year
  • Rebecca shared some of the ways PTA money is spent.
    • Events
    • Citizenship Student Awards
    • Assemblies
    • Disney Musical
    • 6th Grade Celebration
    • Star Grants
    • Teacher reimbursement
    • Field trips
    • Outdoor classroom

Important Dates

Sept. 2ndNo School in recognition of Labor Day

Sept 16th – Open House (5:30-6:30). This is different from the district-scheduled time of 6:00-8:00. Children are welcome. There will be pizza and bottled water available for purchase.

Sept. 20thNo School. Teachers will be attending Curriculum Day

Sept. 21st – Bocce Ball event at Turner Park

Sept 23rdNo School. This is a Teacher Plan/Prep Day

Sept 24th – School Picture Day. This could possible change as Scholastic double-booked us. Look for more information about picture day as the end of the month approaches.

Principal’s Report

  • Dr. Haynes shared that the Harrison newsletter will be shared via Smore this year. This allows the school to save paper and provides easier access to digital documents. The school does have a Plan B for those families who don’t have access to online content, but most families do have at least Smartphone access.
  • There will be no soccer this year due to lack of a coach. Basketball will begin in late fall.
  • Attendance will be a major focus this year. Dr. Logan wants schools to drill down on attendance. Harrison is monitoring attendance closely, and Dr. Haynes will be sending out emails to families whenever there is concern regarding attendance. Poor attendance causes children to miss important instruction or assessment.
  • August 30th is early dismissal. Kids club is open.
  • Sept. 20th and 23rd are set aside for professional development for teachers.
  • Harrison’s Bocce Ball event at Turner Park will be on Sept. 21st. This event raises money for the school’s Disney musical. This is the first year that we’ve had to pay for a musical license (it was funded by a grant for the past four years), and we still need to raise a few thousand dollars. The Bocce Ball competition typically raises about $1500.

New Business

  • New T-shirts are available. The order form was sent home in the membership packet. We are also offering online ordering this year. All orders are due by Sept. 6th. Nicole Brown designed the shirts and is in charge of sales. If you have already ordered and need to change your order for any reason (different size, color, etc), send an email to the PTA and the information will be forwarded to Nicole.
  • PTA doesn’t compensate the teenagers who babysit our children during member meetings. We will have an envelope available at each meeting for those who would like to make a voluntary donation to our babysitters. We are also looking for materials (puzzles, games, art supplies) that our babysitters can use. Please email the PTA if you have supplies you would like to donate.

Four Ways You Can Engage

  1. PTA Committees
  2. Star Grant: PTA allots $2400 to spend on Star Grants. These applications are due at the end of September. The committee refers to a rubric during the decision-making process. Committee members can work on scoring from home. Ideally, both parents and teachers (who did not submit a grant) would be on the committee. Last year’s grants were all funded. Some previous examples of grants that were funded are Brain Pop and Secret Kindness Agents.
  3. Room Parents: This committee is co-chaired by Charlotte Shafer and Molly Colling. Molly will be taking over for Charlotte after this year.  Room parents coordinate the classroom Halloween party, Valentine’s Day party, and create/facilitate donations for the classroom baskets for Bash. Charlotte hopes to get at least two parents for each classroom, although more than two are certainly welcome! Each volunteer must submit a volunteer application (found on the OPS website). This should be done soon as it can take a few weeks to clear.
  • Bash: Our biggest fundraiser is scheduled for Nov. 22nd. Ruth Farrington and Nicole Brown have headed this committee for several years, but are ready to begin the transition to new leadership. There are many components to planning the Bash: choosing a theme,  hiring a DJ, organizing a big dance party, games in the hallway, and craft activities, and soliciting donations for the silent auction. Silent auction Items can include experiences such as a yoga night, house parties, a Happy Hour event, or a movie night.
  • Outdoor Classroom: Angela Smith heads this committee. This committee is responsible for helping maintain the outdoor classroom. The Cub Scouts landscape it twice a year, but it needs more regular maintenance.
  • Staff Appreciation: Jennifer Woolf chairs this committee. Projects are ongoing throughout the year. This committee provides a meal for staff at fall and spring P/T conferences, and a staff appreciation luncheon in the spring. It also provides holiday gifts and birthday gifts for staff once a month.
  • Science and Art Fair: Rebecca is chairing this committee. The fair is scheduled for April to coincide with the final PTA meeting. The art component was introduced three years ago, and has been a big success! The science project is a 5th-grade requirement and will be graded. Students are allowed to work with a partner. Last year, the format was changed from an awarded competition to an event with feedback. Community members were recruited to be judges and provided constructive feedback to the participants.
  • Carnival: This event takes place in May. Responsibilities included: choosing and organizing games (including the famous dunk tank!), securing food trucks, and securing/assigning volunteers.
  • 6th Grade Celebration: This committee is typically headed by a 6th grade parent. The parents and teachers plan this event together. The bus picks up students from Harrison on the final day of school and takes them to the event.
  • Classroom Support: Dr. Haynes answered some questions about ways to provide classroom support.
  • What do I do if I want to have lunch with my child?
    • Don’t come on Quiet Friday! On this day, students win prizes for good manners and quietness at lunch
    • Check the lunch schedule on the Harrison website to make sure you come at the right time
    • Do not bring in outside food. This is a district policy because we serve government subsidized lunches
    • Fill out an online volunteer form. The link is in the newsletter and on the district website. You must fill out a new volunteer form every calendar year.
  • What do I do if I want to volunteer in the classroom?
    • Fill out a volunteer form. There are different levels of clearance depending on the type of volunteering you wish to do. For example, helping laminate items for a teacher is level one, but reading to kids is level three.
    • Touch base with your child’s teacher at an appropriate time (not during dismissal or arrival, please) to discuss ways in which you can help them. An email is often best as if gives teachers time to think before responding.
    • Be aware that teachers may want you on a schedule. Consistency is what creates support for our students.
  • How can I support my child’s teacher other than volunteering?
    • Keep an eye out for DonorsChoose grants or other crowdfunding sources that teachers may be using, and spread the news to family members.
    • Donate to the Omaha Schools Foundation and earmark your donation for a specific classroom/teacher.
  • Financial Support for the School: Reference the “5 Easy Ways to Help Harrison” handout which includes things like Hearts for Harrison, Bash, HyVee receipts, and BoxTops (these can now be scanned online)
  • Time and Talent: Consider your talents (design, fundraising, organizing, etc) and how those talents could contribute to the Harrison community. Could you create/facilitate a club? Currently, Robotics is the only after school club available at Harrison.

PTA Meeting Minutes April 15, 2019

Welcome

  • Molly Colling: Thanks to all for coming. This is the last meeting of the year, and we have a lot to go through, but we’ll get through it in a timely fashion.

It takes a village to support all of our PTA events throughout the school year, and we’re so grateful for everyone’s help and support. Committee members, teachers, parents, volunteers – we couldn’t do all of this without everyone’s support.

Treasurer’s Report

  • Lex Morrison: We have the proposed budget and our actual funds. Hearts for Harrison raised $975 but doesn’t appear on the budget. We were grateful for all who contributed. We had contributions from Harrison families but also from relatives and people living out of town. You can still donate at any time, and we will revisit this fundraiser next year.

The end of the year is when our expenses are the highest because of the 6th grade celebration, Carnival, etc. This is also when we pay for field trip buses. It has been a very successful year, and we are happy with how things went.

Penny Wars raised $634 which was down from last year, but last year was the first year, and this year we were running the fundraiser the week after a flood relief fundraiser. We will continue to do Penny Wars. The timing might not have been perfect. We tried this year to not “stack up” fundraisers with other Harrison efforts like Pennies for Patients.

Principal’s Report

  • Dr. Haynes is under the weather and can’t be here tonight, but we will read a message on her behalf:

Thank you to all of our parents and judges that assisted with the Science/Art Fair today. It was another successful event – highlighting our students’ talent, innovation, and curiosity!

We are currently right in the middle of state testing at Harrison. We have completed week 1 – and have about 2 weeks left. This is for Grades 3-6 only. State testing classroom schedules were sent home two weeks ago. Please let the office know if you have questions about your child’s testing schedule. It is always important to get a good night’s sleep and breakfast – but during these three testing weeks, it is even more important.


Two robo emails (from myself) are scheduled to go out this week to all Harrison families:

  1. The first email is in regards to the district’s Attendance Boundary Changes that were highlighted in the World Herald last week. I’ll provide some additional info for Harrison families in the robo email. Families can contact me directly, if you have questions following the email.

  2. The second email is about Attendance. We have been keeping a careful eye on attendance this year and unfortunately, we are on track to have more students with chronic absences this year – compared with the last three years. Any student missing more than 7 days in a school year (not medically related due to hospitalization) is said to be “chronically absent”. I cannot reiterate enough the importance of good school attendance. Yes, we want students to stay home when they are sick – but on average that is typically only 2-3 days per year for most students. We have over 50 students at Harrison that have missed over 10-12 days of school this year. In my mind, as a mother and as a principal that is very disheartening.  Many times, our parents do not even realize their child has missed so many days because they are not keeping track. I had a conversation with a family, just today, and asked the mother how many days she thought her daughter had missed – She said “around 5” – I corrected her and said “12”. She was surprised and very embarrassed.


Next year, we will be implementing a system that will give parents better data about their child’s attendance – so better decisions can be made about how and when a child stays home.

Please plan to join us on May 3rd for our Disney Musical – Aladdin! It is going to be the most amazing show yet! There are flyers all over the school and we’ll be sending another flyer home as the date gets closer.

Field Day will be held Tuesday, May 21st!


Reminder that the last day of school is on a Wednesday this year – May 22nd.

  • We’ll be holding Kindergarten Graduation at 2:00pm in the outdoor amphitheater – as is tradition – and the 6th grade party, which you’ll discuss this evening– will be that afternoon as well.
  •  I’m sure you’ll be discussing all of the other May activities as well tonight – i.e. Staff appreciation week, the Carnival, etc.


I deeply apologize for my absence. I haven’t missed a meeting in a couple years and I am sorry it had to be the last one of this year!

My final words are just a “thank you” to our current PTA Board – Molly, Scott, Lex and Annie have done a fantastic job this year. It is a grueling job – with very little thanks and zero compensation – but our children and staff benefit greatly from the work of the PTA. My heartfelt thanks to this year’s Board and everyone who has helped on any committee or with any event this year. I am proud to be a part of such a collaborative community.

As always, please email me or call me with any questions or concerns.

Old Business

  • Approval of January’s PTA meeting minutes. Meeting minutes were approved.


New Business

  • Lex: Approval of 2019-2020 budget: Unfortunately the second page of the budget didn’t print. The new budget will look basically the same as last year. We bumped up the expected revenue from BASH since that has been more successful in recent years. One thing to note is that – if you are a 5th grade parent you know that they we didn’t do dancing classrooms this year – we left $500 in the budget just in case there are additional funds that arise for this. We made some extra money this year from  family night at Raising Canes ($125), the eCreamery fundraiser, and the I Love Public Schools t-shirts. TAGG and other supplemental funds are under “other fundraisers.” We won’t vote to approve the budget until we have a complete copy of it. We will need to look in the bylaws to figure out how to do this.
  • Question about Dancing Classrooms. What is Dancing Classrooms? This is a program where 5th grade students learn ballroom dancing. It is a very beneficial program but also very expensive. It was funded by a grant in the past, and PTA supplemented some of the funds as well. If people are interested we could do a special fundraiser. At one time we thought about offering an option at BASH to sponsor a student. It seems like there is a lot of interest, so maybe we could bring this up with Dr. Haynes again.
  • Molly: We still have open board positions for the 2019-2020 school year. There are two monthly meetings plus the member meetings that occur quarterly. If anyone is interested, please let us know. We are all available and willing to talk if you want to know more. We do have some candidates who are mulling it over and we should know more soon. Annie has graciously offered to step into the Vice President position, leaving openings for secretary and treasurer. We hope candidates commit for two years because of the continuity required by the position.
  • Motion is seconded and passed for Annie Johnson to become Vice President and Scott Gillespie to become president for the 2019-2020 school year.

 
Upcoming Events

  • Disney Musical
    • All School Matinee Thursday, May 2, 2:00
    • Performances Friday, May 3, 5:30, 7:00
    • Need volunteers for Bake Sale to sell concessions / donations
  • Teacher and Support Staff Appreciation May 6-10th
    • Food signup
    • Gift cards
  • Carnival
    • Friday, May 17th from 5:30pm-7:30pm
    • Look for Sign Up and Pre-Order Coming Soon!
    • Invite your neighbors
  • 6th Grade Celebration, May 22
    • Stay tuned for more information on this as the committee figures out the outing that the 6th graders will do. The kids are so excited!


Program

  • Presentation of Wiese Citizenship Award

Scott: Jennie King will present the award and will tell more about the award. It goes to a Harrison student who has exemplified honesty, compassion, respect, courage, responsibility, and inclusivity both in the classroom and beyond. 6th graders are nominated by 5 Harrison teachers/staff and evaluated by those individuals. They score the students based on a rubric. What Jennie won’t say is that she not only knew the family but was also a recipient of the award.

Jennie: For many years, the PTA has honored a 6th grade student with a scholarship on behalf of Daniel Wiese, a former Harrison Elementary student who attended Harrison from 1975 through 1982. During Dan’s 6th grade year, he was diagnosed with leukemia. In 1982, Dan underwent a bone marrow transplant, which was first of such procedures involving a child in the State of Nebraska. Dan went on to attend Lewis and Clark Jr High School and graduated with his class at Central High School in 1988. Dan’s desire to help others with leukemia was a driving force in the formation of a support group at Clarkson Hospital for families involved with bone marrow transplants. Sadly, Dan passed away in the spring of 1989 from complications related to his illness. His determination to be successful and his positive attitude toward life are an inspiration to all who knew him.

In 2016, the PTA membership voted to discontinue the scholarship and create a new award to honor students who exhibit exemplary citizenship qualities while still honoring the memory and legacy of Daniel Wiese.  

6th grade students are nominated by their teachers and scored against a rubric of criteria inclusive of their efforts in the areas of work ethic, behavior, academic achievement, interpersonal skills and the 6 pillars of citizenship: honesty, compassion, respect, responsibility, courage and inclusivity.

It is with great pride that this year that we honor Ellie Yamamoto with The Harrison Elementary PTA Wiese Citizenship Award. Ellie, will you and your family please join us up here at the front?

Ellie, on behalf of the Harrison Elementary PTA, we honor you for your dedication to honesty, compassion, respect, responsibility, courage and inclusivity and present you with this award. Please join me in congratulating these students and her family for their achievements. Ellie, congratulations.  

  • Science + Art Fair Recognition

Annie: As we’ve tried to communicate leading up to the Science + Art Fair this year, the committee made a decision to switch from a prize-based judging structure to a feedback-based judging structure. We’ve learned a lot about Harrison and the district’s focus on growth mindset this year, and we wanted to honor that focus in our approach to this event. Previously, kids who won a prize didn’t get any feedback other than “I won,” and kids who didn’t get a prize got no feedback other than “I didn’t win.” This way, they are focused on the process. We had a wonderful group of judges who worked through the projects today and who gave one constructive comment and one praise comment to each student. Every judge today commented on how much fun they had and how impressed they were with the kids. I was lucky enough to be in the gym this afternoon and to see the kids presenting their work. They did a wonderful job, and they will get to celebrate with an ice cream party on Monday, April 29th. They will get a certificate tonight, and they will receive their feedback from the judges at the party. Let’s recognize them with a round of applause.

PTA Meeting Minutes January 14, 2019

Molly Colling: Welcome to all who are here. Second semester seems to be off to a good start. A few housekeeping reminders: make sure you sign in, and grab a slice of pizza. If you’re using the childcare option tonight, please compensate our teen chaperones. There are a few copies of October’s meeting minutes floating around if you’d like to look at them.

Treasurer’s Report Lex Morrison: We had an amazing turnout for BASH this year. We raised a little over $8000.00. Ruth Farrington and Nicole Brown led up this effort and headed the committee of folks who contributed to the success of this event. From a budget perspective, we are sitting well. We are $1100 ahead in the budget this year. Lex has a copy of the current budget available for anyone who would like to see it.

Principal’s Report Dr. Haynes: We were unable to find a boys’ basketball coach for intramurals. We offer the position to staff members, parents, etc., and did not find anyone. We’ll try for boys’ football and girls’ volleyball. We are partnering with Waypoint to offer a dance club after school for kids. o Just a couple reminders – classroom photos are coming up this Friday, January 18th. That afternoon, we also have Kindergarten Roundup. We usually have around 20-30 families that round up with us. o Harrison has had closed enrollment for 5 years now after we experienced large class sizes. We fought hard to close enrollment and it has been that way for 5 years. Class sizes have become much smaller during this time. What it’s also done is pulled our enrollment down. It was a significant decrease but one that needed to happen. I am now being approached to open up enrollment at Harrison again. At this point, we are still closed, but this may change. Even siblings are not eligible for attendance at Harrison as long as the closed enrollment continues. Enrollment may open up for kindergarten and first grade. Everybody wants to come here, and it is not a bad problem to have. We are comfortable and class sizes are where research says they should be. o January 23rd is I Love Public Schools Day. Also, no school on January 21st for MLK Day. o Mrs. Herzog sustained an injury (rupture to Achilles tendon) while playing with her kids and is out, possibly, for another 2-3 weeks. Haynes has listened to her voice mails and is keeping up with things. Mrs. Shafer is substituting for now and she has experience working in our guidance classroom from previous years. We will welcome Mrs. Herzog back in a few weeks, on a scooter.

Formative testing / MAP testing is happening right now – these are not high-stakes tests. These show us where kids are at and where we need to take them next. The end-of-the-year, high-stakes testing will be in April. The OWH showed a school rating scale – Harrison was rated ‘good’ but should be ‘great.’ Haynes has appealed this rating. The majority of OPS schools fell into ‘good’ or ‘great,’ and a few were ‘excellent.’ Haynes sent over 422 documents to appeal our rating. Scores are based on achievement but other things as well. Harrison consistently scores above district average. Science scores went down a little last year which may have hurt us. Schools are also scored on things like family and community partnerships, parent partnerships, and staff development. We were three points away, and anyone within five points could appeal. o The staff in attendance tonight are Mrs. Portis, Mrs. Lenz, Ms. Prieksat, Mrs. Fischer, and Mrs. Barsness.

Old Business

The staff appreciation committee did a lot of work for holiday gifts, and this comes from the whole membership so we wanted to share a little of that. Jennifer Woolf showed the clipboards that the committee designed and created for the teachers and personalized with their names. There are extra clipboards and supplies leftover from that. This committee also does birthday gifts/treats, treats during testing, staff wish lists, and lunch for conferences. The teacher and staff appreciation lunch is coming up too. o Update about combined teacher/staff appreciation week (Dr. Haynes): In the past, teacher and staff appreciation took two huge weeks and everyone ended up spending lots of money – it was great but got to be a bit much. Now it will be combined into one week. This should be much easier to coordinate for everyone, PTA included.

Yearbook (Annie Johnson): The yearbook deadline is coming up at the end of February, and now is the time to send in your photos from this year, teachers included! We especially need photos of classroom activities and clubs – like Girls on the Run and Student Council and other special groups. The yearbook will have a comic book theme this year – it’s very cool! Thanks in advance for anything you’re willing to send in.

New Business

Star Grant recipients: We were able to fund all of the Star Grants this year. But the only people that really know about these grants are the people who applied and the people who were on the committee, so we wanted to give you a chance to hear from some of the teachers whose Star Grants were funded.

  • Mrs. Portis and Mrs. Lenz: We have a wonderful mindfulness specialist/former teacher who comes in and covers more than just yoga. The kids learn different breathing techniques. She does yoga with them through music and stories. Mrs. Lenz brought letters that her students wrote about what they get out of learning about mindfulness. They work on improved attention, controlling emotions, better behavior, empathy and understanding others, test anxiety, and stress. Second grade also has morning meetings where the kids hear a story that helps them focus for the week. Mrs. Portis and Mrs. Lenz are using the mindfulness strategies in their everyday teaching as well.
  • Mrs. Prieksat: Brain Pop has short educational videos – up to 5 minutes long – that give different kinds of information. The videos cover lots of topics – not just library. Mrs. Prieksat uses it a lot to review strategies for things like doing research and paraphrasing, etc. They can watch a video and take a short quiz. The program includes related reading and games and gives kids a refresher or just another way to make the information come alive besides a teacher telling them. There are some Brain Pop videos that can be accessed from home for free (Brain Pop Jr.). The free stuff on Brain Pop is limited – like a video of the week. Brain Pop Jr. does a video of the day.
  • Mrs. Barsness: First grade got a Star Grant to go to the Safari Park. It’s important to take the kids out of the classroom and into the real world. They can see how big a bison is, look at living and non-living things, actually see an eagle up close, get out and pet some animals. It’s a good application to what we do in the classroom.

As you can see from these examples, Star Grants offer an array of different activities and opportunities for Harrison teachers and students.

Hearts for Harrison (Lex Morrison): We’ve been working on different ways to tweak our fundraising process. Starting February 1, we are following through on a project through the Omaha Schools Foundation. It is a direct ask campaign where everyone will get an email saying that we are doing a direct donation campaign. This is a way for us to avoid having kids sell things. A great thing about this is that you can pass along the link to extended family members, alumni, etc. This will broaden the base from which we get funding. Our goal this year is to raise $1500 during the month of February. We may do some classroom competitions. You’ll be seeing posts on FB and getting emails. Some schools do this as their only fundraising method. This will not likely be the case for Harrison. Another great thing about this is that 100% of every donation goes toward Harrison – there are no administrative fees. It will be shareable for everyone through the OSF website as well. We are really excited about this. Be on the lookout in the weeks to come for more information. Right now our goal is to hit it hard in February, and if we hit our number, close the campaign. We also might continue through the duration of the school year. We are still having these conversations. We’re not targeting the money toward a specific thing, but just general support for our outreach and other school events. There will be a budget committee in the spring that can help us reallocate money or make changes to the budget. There are always unexpected events where it’s nice to have extra resources.

Science and Art Fair: In the past, this has been a big process and we’ve been talking about ways that this might look the same or different this year. If you’d like to be part of this committee but didn’t originally sign up, please sign up tonight (list being passed around) or contact the PTA if you’d like to participate in this committee / conversation.

Other committee opportunities: The 6th grade celebration and carnival committees are still welcoming more members. The 6th grade celebration has happened in the past in lieu of a graduation ceremony. There is a send-off party at school and then an off-site activity (last year it was bowling). PTA has shouldered a lot of the responsibility for this in the past. It’s a busy activity, and we’d love to have more volunteers. The committee has been mostly 6th grade parents in the past. Carnival is May 17th this year. It is not as much of a fundraiser as BASH, but we still like to come out ahead. If you’re interested in any other committees, please let us know.

Robotics: They are having a short gathering after tonight’s meeting. Harrison earned first place at the first Robotics competition in two categories. The teams have made a lot of progress. Haynes got good feedback from the Saint Margaret Mary principal as well about our students’ great sportsmanship, respect, collaboration, etc. Harrison will host a Robotics tournament on February 16th – please come! It’s come-and-go for all ages. There is lots of food, and it’s a great way to see what happens in Robotics in person.

PTA Board positions: Next year, we will need a new treasurer and vice president on the PTA board. We have monthly board meetings and monthly meetings with Dr. Haynes. Please let us know if you’re interested in learning more!

Landscaping award: Although this wasn’t on the agenda, Dr. Haynes asked us to give a little update since many people have come forward with questions. Unfortunately, this has not been a smooth journey. We have been disappointed in the response from Kinnan Scaping. Dr. Haynes and the PTA are working together with TAC to try to figure things out. We got posts for the sun shade donated, but unfortunately they were not suitable. We are still hopeful that some of the basic landscaping needs will be met, but the winter season has interrupted things. We all stayed up late voting – but it turned into a bit of a nightmare. The problems have come from the individual we’re working with and some of TAC’s guidelines clashing with each other. TAGG has been contacted and has slightly pushed back but to no avail. We’re not done. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like it will be what we envisioned when we won, but we had no way of knowing this would happen. We left this off of the agenda for the meeting because very little has changed since our last meeting – we are hoping the conversation will pick up again after this winter.

Upcoming Events

January 28th– Family Night at Raising Canes; Raising Canes has been very generous in helping us with Bash. We’re trying to create a reciprocal partnership based on that. This will take place from 4:00- 11:00 at the Raising Canes on 71st and Dodge. A percentage of your purchase will come back to Harrison. o February 1-28th – Hearts for Harrison

February 14th– Classroom Parties; Room parents should be on the lookout for more info about this

February 16th- Robotics Tournament at Harrison; An online signup will be coming out for volunteer opportunities. No experience needed!

February 18th – No School

March 7-8th – No School/Parent Teacher Conferences

March 11-15th – Spring Break o March 25th-29th – Penny Wars; Please note that this date has shifted. This is a competition among classes to raise money. Last year we made $1100.00!

Special program

Toni Choquette is the parent of a second grader at Harrison. She is a literacy specialist at Liberty Elementary as well as a Harrison parent. She “invited herself” to speak because of how much she loves Harrison and appreciates the parent support and principal support. She is very passionate about reading and loves informing parents about reading and teaching children how to read. She struggled with reading

growing up. She had parent support but not the kind of resources and strategies that would have made her reading process easier.

Toni talked to us about creating a literate home. Parents are their child’s first teacher and the same strategies apply to us as they do to teachers. The purpose of reading is always understanding / comprehension; even if a child can read the words, they may not be comprehending them. There are many things parents can do to foster comprehension. We need to think past the 5 W’s. We don’t all have the time to sit next to our kids while they read, and we often ask them questions like, “What? Where? When? Why?” but this doesn’t always lend itself to a conversation.

Text tagging/coding is a strategy for readers to capture their thinking while reading and to be aware in the moment of what they are reading. It’s the difference between deeper thinking vs. surface level and helps readers slow down and monitor their thinking. If you practice this at home, your kids will be impressed. Kids get a stack of sticky notes and use them to “tag” their text while they’re reading. A simpler one to use at home is visualizing. This asks kids to use their five senses, like making a movie. They tag with a “v,” and then kids can show their sticky notes and explain their thinking about what they read. Connecting is a another strategy. “This reminds me of . . . “ (text, self, world). They tag with a “C” on sticky note. Questioning (wonder about characters, outcomes, new info, concepts, etc.) – tag with a “?” Inferencing (reading between the lines/drawing conclusions) – tag with “I.”

They can tag in other ways too that work for them: “L” (I learned something), “!,” “LOL,” heart shape, or smiley face.

This is a great way to have a positive interaction with your child at home about reading. Text tagging is happening at Harrison but we’ve never shared strategy with parents.

Meeting Minutes – August 27, 2018

Welcome: Molly Colling

  • Thanks to all for coming to the first meeting of the year. We hope you find this a good time for connecting and learning about what students experience at Harrison. Our board members for the year are Molly Colling (president), Scott Gillespie (vice president), Lex Morrison (treasurer), and Annie Johnson (secretary).
  • Four important to-do’s: Make sure membership and directory forms are completed by September 7th; pay attention to volunteer opportunities on the back. We will walk through some of the committees tonight because they are timely and coming up soon. We encourage everyone to subscribe to the PTA calendar. Try to meet someone new.

Treasurer’s Report: Lex Morrison

  • Last year, we were being very careful with our budget. For our revenues we came in at $500 less than we had budgeted for the entire year. Thanks to everyone who contributed and participated. The budget, at this point, is pretty uninteresting since it’s so early in the school year. One important thing to know is that we offer teacher reimbursement for supplies that teachers buy for their classrooms, and some of those forms have already come in. We have also paid the PTA insurance for the year. Last year’s carnival was a huge success; we exceeded our revenue plan and kept costs low. It was a night when you just love to be at Harrison because there were so many people here connecting and having fun. Please contact Lex if you’d like to know more about how PTA funds are distributed.

Principal’s Report: Andrea Haynes

  • We have many staff members here tonight: Quackenbush, Barnes, Barber, Yuskovich, Stuthman, Copenharve, Herzog, Brodkey. What we are going to do tonight is roll out some information about bigger things happening at Harrison. Tonight, that is MTSSB, which stands for multi-tiered systems of support. Every school in OPS has had to roll this out at some point, and Harrison is in the last round. There were some schools that really needed assistance, but the teachers and staff here are rockstars. We have the highest scores for school climate and the lowest for referrals.
  • We have a new superintendent, Dr. Logan, from Philadelphia. She asked schools to roll out a new mission statement and mascot. We have an official tiger, and our new mission statement is: “Teach. Lead. Succeed.” The staff theme is “We Are Harrison.” Along with that we have a new vision statement: “Through high expectations and caring hearts, the Harrison staff and school community will ensure success for EVERY student!” We have a mission and every single day our staff work toward that collaboratively with parents and community partners. MTSSB is designed to support and teach students appropriate behavior in school through defined rules and expectations, lesson plans that teach expected behaviors, rewards and recognitions, and consequences for misbehavior. This was previously called citizenship plan. We had to choose school rules that students would be able to say if a staff person asked them. We decided to make them pretty easy since they already say them every day in the Harrison Daily Pledge. We say it every day, emphatically. We took the rules and wove them into what we were already saying every day.
  • Dani Herzog: Positive recognition. Classroom management plus behavioral building plan. Just as in years past, we have a principal’s treasure box to reward kids who show good behavior and choices. We now also have “Good ‘cents’ today” – for kids who may struggle but show that they are trying. This is a reward for them that boosts their esteem levels. E.g., “We saw you doing this, we saw that you usually have a tough time, but you used good sense today.” They turn this in to the main office and they can put a quarter into a candy machine and get a reward. Quiet Lunch Friday will continue. Student Council and 6th Grade Ambassadors give students leadership opportunities. There will be “You’re one terrific tiger” quarterly letters home: teachers will pick two students each quarter to send a letter home and reinforce good behavior and choices. We will continue to have quarterly Citizenship Assemblies for kids who haven’t had a PAC referral; they do a fun activity or presentation at the assembly. Kids don’t always get the recognition they deserve and this helps with that.
  • Carrie Cophenharve: Consequences. Five steps. 1. First warning: verbal; 2. Second warning: stop and think / extended verbal reminder; 3. Third warning: buddy room, then return to class; 4. Fourth warning: PAC room; 5. Fifth warning: office referral (severe, doesn’t happen very often). Teachers have a clipboard to know where students are in their plan. This is tracked on the computer to track patterns of behavior that can be prevented or worked on constructively. It helps us keep track of what’s going on and what we’re doing to help. Students start with a blank slate every day. The first two steps are not necessarily relayed to parents, sometimes the third is, and always the fourth and fifth. And if it’s consistent, then parents know. Andrea Haynes: It’s an important point that we track this data because this affects other students too.
  • Nicole Quackenbush and Abby Barnes: Booster Lesson Plans. We sometimes assume that the rules at home match the rules at school, but this isn’t always the case. There are plans for following directions, using the restroom, playing outside, attending assemblies; you name it, there’s plans for it. We want common language for everybody, so teachers rolled these out last week. A lot of these rules are for safety reasons. They create boundaries between school rules and family/home rules (for instance, playing on the playground may be different after school than it is during school hours). Most teachers are already doing these lessons, so this wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but it unified the language being used. Andrea Haynes: The student handbook goes over the consequences for different behaviors. We have a very safe school where the majority of students are following the rules every single day. The handbook can tell you the district consequences (which we have to follow). Some kids will work toward a goal of attending a citizenship assembly. The majority of the students are attending the assemblies (90+%). The younger grades do not have as much of an issue as the older grades.
  • Andrea Haynes: Yearly goals. Every elementary school has to turn in focused goals for every year. 1. Guided reading; differentiated individual reading instruction so that advanced readers and beginning readers’ needs are both being met. 2. MAP reports 3. Growth mindset with mathematics; students’ ability to be good in math is always changing and growing 4. New science standards, Elevate Science. After spending millions of dollars on science curriculum, the district had to buy all new science books this year. It seems pretty silly to us that we went through Pierson training last year and now we’re doing this new curriculum. It feels hands-on and more meaningful, but I don’t think we needed a whole new curriculum to do it.
  • Andrea Haynes: Other updates. Explanation of losing our Pre-K classroom. We have had a phenomenal parent-pay Pre-K program. If you’re upset, I’m sorry. I fought hard to try to turn that bus around, but it was not happening. New Attendance Initiative – Strive for 95, reduce absences by 5%. $10,000 landscaping grant is moving slower than expected. New technology has come to the building. An HP Streams laptop cart is being used by 6th grade students.
  • Molly: Dr. Haynes will be here for all of our meetings. We’re open to your ideas that you’d like her to address.

Old Business: Molly Colling

  • Our last PTA meeting was last April. The meeting minutes are being passed around and will be sent out to our membership list after each meeting. The meeting minutes were unanimously approved.
  • Nicole Brown: TAGG summer classroom challenge. The second and sixth grade classrooms won the TAGG summer challenge. TAGG is an app on your phone that generates “free money” for Harrison. There are places all over the city where you can TAGG. It’s super simple. You spend money at these places, and take a picture of your receipt with the app. 5-10% of proceeds go to Harrison. We did a challenge over the summer and raised $384. That’s really great. 2nd grade had the most TAGGS, but 6th grade earned the most money. Those classrooms will get popcorn parties. Popcorn will be popped outside. If anyone wants to help on Sept. 12th, Nicole could use it!
  • T-shirts. Nicole has examples to look at. Order forms are due by Friday, September 7 th. There are extras available.
  • BASH is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year, and many families come. We have a silent auction, dance, dinner, games, etc. Please consider donating something for the silent auction or inquiring at local businesses or workplaces. This is one of the biggest ways we raise money for STAR grants and teacher appreciation. We will pick a theme for this year’s bash but haven’t done it yet. Room parents create BASH baskets for auction; we will likely do this again. Ruth Farrington and Nicole Brown will answer questions if you have them.
  • Angela Smith: Landscaping update. We won the TAGG landscaping challenge. We were the top vote-getter and had an interview and “wooed” Brandon from Kinnan Lanscaping. Brandon is donating his time for this and wrangling people to donate materials. Dr. Haynes had the great idea of polling the teachers for their thoughts. We also welcome parent suggestions – it’s not too late. It helps us establish a wish list for future landscaping.
  • Annie Johnson: I am the yearbook coordinator and welcome parent and teacher submissions of photographs throughout the school year. Please email them to anniejohnson78@gmail.com. You may have noticed that there was some new language in the photo release form (green sheet sent home on the first day of school). This is related to using photos on social media. We are hoping to create more social media engagement this year. If you have questions about the photo release, please talk to Annie Johnson.
  • Molly Colling: All of us have to go through the volunteer application process to attend anything Harrison-related during the school day. Andrea Haynes: If you are not going to be alone with a child, you don’t have to do a Level 3 (background check), but you do have to do a level 2, even to have lunch at school with your child. Dr. Haynes approves Level 2. If you attend a field trip, you would likely have to complete a Level 3. We were highly encouraged to do this by the district. If you did one last year, you need to it again this year. Please try to complete this at the beginning of the year. It’s good for a year. If you’re not sure which level you checked, you have to log back in and bring up your application, or Mrs. Davey can look for you. For large Harrison school events, the clearance is not necessary, but for anything that’s not a school-wide event permission is needed. If you did it last year and you remember your username and password, your info will still be on the form.
  • Molly Colling: Star Grants are an opportunity for Harrison teachers to apply for something they’d like implemented in their classroom (field trips, special activities, items, etc). PTA budgeted $2400
    for Start Grants, an increase from last year. Unfortunately, this large chunk of money doesn’t cover ALL Star Grant applications. PTA members (not board members) go through a rubric to rank the applications. It’s a great volunteer opportunity for new parents. Applications will be due September 28th. If there is a staff member who’s NOT applying for a Start Grant, we encourage them to join the committee. It’s difficult to be biased due to the rubric; this helps to prevent parents from being biased toward their own classroom.
  • Ruth Farrington: Scoops of Support. Harrison is joining four midtown OPS schools in a cool fundraiser. A dollar from every pint of Cool Cats ice cream sold at eCreamery will come back to
    the school. The entire proceeds will be divided by the four schools. The ice cream is vanilla with M&Ms, Oreos, and cookie dough. It’s just the pints that bring back money to Harrison. Our day is
    September 19th – the proceeds will go just to Harrison on that day. It’s not just the pints that day, it’s everything. We’ll be promoting between 4-8 p.m. Annie will take yearbook pictures. Each of
    the four schools picked a sundae. Ours is called Tiger Tracks, vanilla with caramel and brownie rights. They’ll tally this and it will be a friendly competition. If you have questions, please contact
    Ruth Farrington.
  • Lex Morrison: Hearts for Harrison. We’ve looked over our fundraising opportunities over the last few years, and we wanted to try something new. This will be a direct campaign. We’ll do this in February and connect it to Valentine’s Day. You can make a direct donation to the PTA. It’s a great way for family members outside of Omaha to feel like they’re supporting the school. It’s a tax deductible donation. This has been successful in other schools. If anyone else has fundraising ideas they’d like to share, please let us know.

The meeting ended with a “What to Expect” activity asking small groups to match different Harrison milestones with the grade level when they happen.

The next meeting will be Monday, October 1st, at 6:00 p.m.