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PTO Leader of the Week: Charlotte Shaff

It’s my absolute pleasure to kick off a brand new series here on the blog and introduce you to truly remarkable leaders in the PTO/PTA world.

There are so many leaders doing wonderful things for their school communities with much knowledge and insight to share, so this is just a small way to acknowledge their efforts and at the same time provide some inspiration for readers too!

The first leader I’m shining the spotlight on nice and bright is Charlotte Shaff, an 8 year PTO volunteer, currently with Meadows PTM (Parents and Teachers at Meadows) in Phoenix, Arizona.

Without further adieu, let’s learn more about Charlotte!

Tell us a little about your family and your PTO/PTA journey

I am the proud mom of two boys, Jake (8th grade) and Eric (7th grade) and married to John, a Physician Assistant in Dermatology.

I own a PR agency in Phoenix and manage PR and social media for local small businesses and nonprofits.

I’ve been doing this since 2005 and work from home.

Because I work at home (I love it, I am an introvert and have ADHD) I always leaned on social media for networking, learning and sharing.

That has led me to be the admin of many PR and work at home groups in Phoenix. 

Tell us about why you got involved in your school parent group?

I never thought I’d be a “PTO Mom” because of the stereotypes we normally see in society these days, but after a girlfriend nudged me to serve on our boys’ elementary PTO board, I got hooked.

First of all, I started out as an Accounts Receivable Treasurer and it was torture for someone like me who hates numbers, math, etc.

I was told the job was just collecting checks and donations and depositing in the bank.

It was more than that, but I quickly found a way to be in charge of what I do for a living, which was communications and social media.

I loved it!

I eventually became President at our elementary school (Simis Elementary PATS – Parents and Teachers of Simis.)

I kept doing the PTO’s social media and comms even after I left because they couldn’t find volunteers to do it and they paid me as a contractor!

Eventually I said I have to focus on my middle schoolers, and was Communications Secretary at Madison Meadows (Meadows PTM – Parents and Teachers at Meadows.)

Last year I decided to run for President, and did it myself with no Vice President or President-Elect and struggled a bit, but found my groove enough to say I’d stay on as President this year when I had two gals say they’d be co-President-elects!

Thank god for the extra help!!

It takes a village, right? 

What’s your favorite way to volunteer?

Shooting videos with our committee chairs, staff and principals and students to promote our school events and news.

What’s something you’ve accomplished with your PTA/PTO that you’re super proud of?

We have amazing engagement on social media.

Lots of groups just post flyers and rarely post much that gets people talking or commenting.

Sponsors and community members are always tagged and thanked tons.

We use videos to help parents understand everything from how to navigate the first day of school to why attendance matters and everything in between!

We all know how much information is being thrown at us in a day as parents…but if you want to spread the word, you have to have a multi-faceted plan so parents and caregivers see it and remember it. 

What’s a recent event you’re excited to share about?

We just had a Barbie Bingo Night LAST NIGHT and it was awesome.

We had a Barbie Box photo booth, everyone was encouraged to dress up and we had a best dressed contest.

The sponsor was a neighborhood orthodontist whose signature color is pink, so he came dressed up in a pink suit and had pink bingo daubers for the cards.

Admission was free because you can’t promote gambling on campus, but we did push raffle ticket sales and for people to buy food from our clubs (which we get a percentage from.)

We had a lot of fun and were able to get lots of help from our Student Council and National Junior Honor Society students. 

What’s one piece of advice for PTO/PTA leaders who are just starting out you’d like to share?

You can’t do it all.

BUT, you can divide and conquer.

Find people’s passions and let them do their magic! 

In a word, sum up your life as a PTO/PTA volunteer


Want to hang out with Charlotte?

Come join us in the Super Star Leaders Facebook Group!

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