Room Parents' Corner

Room Parents Corner Banner Photo
Dear Room Parents,
 
THANK YOU for volunteering your time and effort to be a Room Parent! Being a Room Parent is a GREAT way to get to know other parents and their children, to earn your Chai hours, and to create the magic of community in your classroom.
 
Building a vibrant community ensures that each student and their family can find a group to call home, and at the same time strengthens their connection to the school. Intentional community building practices are the key to a vibrant, engaged community. Without structured frameworks for communal belonging, people may feel left behind. It is our hope that with your help we can expand and deepen the culture of belonging that exists at Wornick.
 
As a Room Parent you are the liaison between parents, the PTO, and your child’s teacher regarding school activities.
 
At our room parent meeting, we will discuss your role in detail, but generally, we ask room parents to be responsible for the following:
 
  • Create community by planning events for your class / grade during the year;
  • Communicate with your teachers about their needs;
  • At teacher’s request, coordinate drivers and other help for field trips and other class events;
  • Encourage class sign-ups as needed for various school and PTO events;
  • Organize and distribute teacher gifts;
  • Send monthly updates and reminders to your class about class, PTO and other school events; and
  • Advise the PTO and Head of School about births, deaths, illness or other needs, and coordinate assistance for families experiencing such an event as may be appropriate.

We always recommend that more than one person volunteer per class, to share the work. You and your Co-Room Parents may decide to take on all these responsibilities yourselves; however, we urge you to involve other class parents as this helps build a team feeling within the class and provides opportunities for others to feel involved.

If you have any questions, please contact us at pto@wornickjds.org. We are always available to help!

Specific information on Room Parent responsibilities can be found here:

Class Parties and Other Events

As Room Parent, you are responsible for helping to organize class parties and other events for your class. Although there are no firm guidelines as to what these events should be, some suggestions are: (1) Shabbat picnic/potluck; (2) class play date / movie; (3) Mom’s night out; (4) Dad’s night out; (5) end of the year party; (6) summer pool party or BBQ. These events do not have to be on a “per class” basis, but can be for the entire grade. Coordinate with the room parents from the other class and include everyone!
 
For all of the events, we recommend using Evite or some other online signup site to help organize who is coming, and what people are bringing, where applicable. We strongly suggest that you create a menu and post it. These events do not have to be fancy – the idea is to create community within each class/grade and to have fun!
 
In planning events, please be mindful of Shabbat, Jewish holidays and kashrut. The school’s parent handbook notes the following regarding birthday parties: Please do not schedule parties involving members of your child’s class on or close to Shabbat or Jewish holidays. Additionally, please respect the kashrut practices of the school and of members of our community; thus, always provide a kosher and/or vegetarian food option for partygoers. These guidelines should also be followed for any play dates and similar events that you plan for your class. Of course, if the class event is a Shabbat picnic or Jewish holiday celebration (e.g., a Chanukkah party), those events can be held on Shabbat or the Jewish holiday, as the case may be. For all class events, please ask parents to bring food that is vegetarian/nut free/dairy/pareve (this can include fish) only.
 
Please be mindful of new families to our school, especially during holidays. When the Jewish Holidays or Thanksgiving are coming up please think about those who may have no place to go. You are a great resource to help connect others together at these times of year.

Organizing Class Sign-Ups

In addition to organizing your class parties, we ask that you encourage ‘sign ups’ from other parents for events/activities that occur throughout the year. Many of these events are centered on class participation and are school-wide activities, and we hope that you stress that these are also wonderful social opportunities for everyone.

As you know, there is a requirement that all parents contribute Chai Hours, requiring that they volunteer or contribute to the school in some way. Volunteering for events like the Shabbat Dinner, Teacher Appreciation Week and WornickFest are prime examples. It is so important for all families to participate in school-wide events, and as a Room Parent, you are a terrific liaison for communicating this to your class! For specific events, the PTO may ask you to help fill in specific volunteer positions. For many events, people have already volunteered, however, there are always open positions to be filled.

Teacher Gifts

The teachers receive three gifts per year. The PTO pays for and sponsors Chanukkah gifts for all teachers, as well as end of the year gifts in the form of gift cards. These gifts will be distributed by the PTO and are not the responsibility of the Room Parents. In addition to the above, the school pays for gift cards for all teachers’ birthdays. You will be responsible for delivering your teacher’s birthday gift card.

We asked each teacher to indicate their gift card preferences, and are in the process of purchasing all of the gift cards for the year already. If your teacher did not specify a preference, the “default” was an Amazon gift card. The gift card will be packaged in a gift card envelope. It can be picked up prior to the teacher’s birthday directly from Esther Gillette/Pam Bodin in the downstairs office, or Deanne Bray in the business office.

As tempting as it may be, please do not buy extra gifts for the teacher from your child, or even from the class. If parents wish, they can do something small at the end of the year. We are trying to teach the children that homemade, “from the heart” gifts are the most precious, and do not want anyone (teacher or student) to feel bad or left out if things are not equitable. We do encourage that the children make their own cards or write a special note to their teacher; the teachers love getting them.

Regardless of whether you do something extra, or just present the gift card, please ensure that your entire class knows about the teacher’s special day. Remember, any email sent to the class or grade as a whole, using the school’s preset emails, will also go to the teacher. You may want to create your own email list to keep things a surprise!

As the Hebrew, Jewish Studies and auxiliary (i.e. PE, Peleh Lab) teachers have so many classes, PTO will be responsible for delivering the gift card, but you can still do something additional (homemade cards for instance) if you wish. PTO also will be responsible for gifts to the administrative staff, Rachel Perelman (our school chef) and school security.

For middle school teachers, the grade that has the teacher for advisory (where applicable) is responsible for handling that teacher’s birthday. A list of all teacher birthdays will be distributed to the Room Parents at the start of the school year.

Helping Families Experiencing a Big Life Event

As a Room Parent, if someone you know has recently experienced, or is currently experiencing a “big” life event (a birth, death, illness etc.), please approach them and ask if they need help and/or if it is ok that you let others know. In addition, please advise the PTO and Head of School. Some things that really help a family in need are carpools, play dates and meals. (Mealtrain.com is an excellent website to help organize meals) They can be coordinated with other parents in your grade. If the person has children in more than one grade, you may want to coordinate with the other room parents to split responsibilities up between the grades.

If you are not comfortable approaching a person or family in need, please contact the PTO directly so that someone may reach out to that person or family. If that family is you, please step up and say something.

Communication

There are two separate communication duties that are important for a Room Parent. You need to communicate regularly with your teacher to ensure that their needs are met, and communicate with your class. Keep in mind that different teachers require different things, so make sure to find out what is needed in your class!

Keeping parents informed of upcoming activities, responsibilities and news via email is a great service and is much needed by our busy Wornick parents. It’s also a great way to acknowledge and thank those who have volunteered. Your PTO VP Kesher (aka Room Parents) will send you monthly emails that detail upcoming events. Please add your class specific events to it and forward to your class. The email should include: (1) upcoming class events; (2) school events and activities; (3) holidays; and (4) other special community or local events.

At the end of each month, contact your teacher, and ask them what is coming up the following month so that you can add it to the email. The email from your PTO representative should have your specific events added, and should be titled something like “this month in 3A.” If possible, use the same subject line each month so that your parents will know what to look for, and will ensure that your email is not missed. The things that are of most concern are generally class events that encourage or require parent participation, events that require a dress code or costume, events that require that a parent contribute something, holidays, minimum days and other days off from school. Keep in mind that the more notice the better! If you repeat the same event in a few emails, that is absolutely fine!

Organizing Field Trips and Events

Often, parent drivers are needed on field trips. Please help your teacher coordinate the drivers and ensure that enough cars and parents are available. For the younger grades, please help your teacher remind parents to send car or booster seats to school with their child. Please help support your teacher to ensure that you have enough parents and cars, the teacher will decide who rides in each car. Please also help remind that they must take the children that are assigned to their car both ways, and that no extra stops or treats for the different cars are permitted.

Follow-Up Meetings

In addition to the Room Parent kick-off meeting, there will be two brief meetings during the school year, one per semester. The purpose of these meetings is for the PTO to get your feedback on what is happening in the classrooms, including what is going well and what is not, so that the PTO may better support you in your role as a Room Parent.
We are really looking forward to getting to know you and encourage your participation as a Room Parent. We hope that you will not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. Also, we welcome any feedback that you feel might be beneficial to other classes, or that would simplify this process. Thank you in advance for all of your hard work! It is going to be a great year!
 
Thanks again,
Cate Koss, PTO President