This week, we’re highlighting Rielly James as our PTO Leader of the Week!
For the past 8 years, Rielly’s been involved in the PTO world, first in Omaha, Nebraska and now with Lincoln Elementary in Osage, Iowa.
And the last two years she’s been a board member and has lent her knack for creative decorations bring life to PTO events.
Tell us a little about your family and your PTO/PTA journey
My journey with PTO began 8 years ago when we lived in a rather large public School District within the Omaha metro area.
I sat as a member and attended meetings regularly, offered my time and decorating ideas to the board, and signed my husband up for a few volunteer events as well.
While there, we found an entire community of parents to build connections with.
We quickly realized our kids were familiar with their kids and the bonds of friendship began to grow almost immediately.
The impact of finding a community to accept and integrate with was something my husband and I both knew we wanted for our family, and it kept us involved with our kids’ schools ever since.
Fast forward through Covid and a big move to a new state and a small rural school district, our new elementary school had a PTO in the beginning steps of formation.
While functioning for the last 7 years, funds were limited, staff participation was null, and our PTO volunteer list consisted of four members, three of them were acting members on the board.
At the end of last school year, I was approached by the now former president and asked to please take the President’s position.
She explained there was no interest in anyone taking the position, she was expecting, and would no longer be operating as President effectively immediately.
My position is unique in the sense we are both new to the school district, but also the community as well. It’s forced me to listen to the opinions and recommendations of others.
That has granted me the opportunity to explore both old and new possibilities for our elect art school.
Tell us about why you got involved in your school parent group?
I want to connect with the staff that supports my family and community.
I want to integrate myself as a valued member of my neighborhood.
I find value in having a network of parents for support and guidance.
Most importantly, I want to create life lasting memories for my kids.
What’s your favorite way to volunteer?
My most FAVORITE way to volunteer is to make decorations for our events and programs!
Backdrops, balloon arches, giant decorations to hang…
I will probably continue to decorate for our school many years after my time has come and gone!
What’s coming up in your PTO/PTA that you’re excited about?
We just became an official nonprofit so I am most excited about all of the current and future fundraisers we are holding to support staff and the school.
We are also working on establishing family nights sponsored by our PTO, as we believe the key to a strong foundation of supporters lies in the community our organization provides for them.
What’s something you’ve accomplished with your PTA/PTO that you’re super proud of?
We are slowly and steadily gaining more volunteers and staff following with every meeting, event, and fundraiser we sponsor.
I am super proud of the community that is showing up to support our organization!
What’s one piece of advice for PTO/PTA leaders who are just starting out you’d like to share?
I would highly recommend finding your group of supporters and leaning on them for guidance.
Asking for help can be such a challenge for those of us that want to do it all, but tapping out when you need the help is what keeps the team together.
I never make decisions that affect the group in my own, we are a collaborative board and all opinions are always welcome.
In a word, sum up your life as a PTO/PTA volunteer
Want to hang out more?
Come join us in the Super Star PTO Leaders Facebook Group!