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.

Trish Mitchell