Join the Tiger Nation team

I've never participated in team sports, but am thrilled to have joined Tiger Nation, the team of students and families who comprise the Cleveland Heights-University Heights public schools. I'd like to extend a warm welcome to new families joining us on what I hope will prove a satisfying journey in the CH-UH school district.

My son is a second grader at Fairfax Elementary School. Though my family is just three years into our journey, we have already benefited from our educational and social experiences. We've also happily shared our own modest resources to support and enrich the educational experience of the students. On this journey, you, like us, will have the opportunity to make great friends and support the success of not only your own child, but other children and, thereby, the broader community.

Here are some examples of how to join our team, and how others have assisted our schools. With your help and input, the opportunities are endless:

  • Join the PTA. There are many ways, big and small, to help. Fundraising is an important PTA activity, but many other PTA efforts provide special enrichment for a school.
  • Volunteer at your school’s book fair. By seeking donations from local businesses such as Zagara's, The Stone Oven and Phoenix Coffee, Fairfax Elementary was able to raise money to enable children to purchase books who would not otherwise have been able to do so.
  • Coordinate afterschool activities and other programs. Parents, teachers and community members have created opportunities for special assemblies, such as one with Bill Wade and Inlet Dance Company, a bike rodeo and club, karate instruction, tumbling, yoga, chess and more.
  • Tutor through the Reaching Heights Many Villages program, or through arrangements with individual teachers and schools.
  • Coordinate or chaperone on field trips.
  • Help at Literacy Night.
  • Provide shoes and other supplies for families in need, and toys and materials for school classrooms.
  • Speak to a class, or assist a teacher in other ways. My husband spoke about his work as a physicist. Another parent assisted the teacher by stapling books together for students' homework packets. (She couldn't help during the school day, so she found this way to help from home.)
  • Seek grants for special projects.
  • Serve on school committees.
  • Participate in the school district levy campaign or the school district facilities planning meetings.
  • Act as room parent or help with class parties and other special occasions.
  • Spruce up the school. I brought in some decorative pillows and a basket of books and magazines to improve the atmosphere of our school lobby.
  • Express concerns and suggest ideas for improving practices in the school.
  • My son and I enjoy walking or biking to school. When we walk, we chat with other children. Often, I pick up litter and recyclables on my way home. When my son's teacher asked me to help with a recycling unit they were doing at school, I jumped at the opportunity to lead some related games I'd developed for the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes. I loved the thank you notes I received from the children afterwards.
  • A group of Fairfax children shaved their heads and raised money for childhood cancer research at a St. Baldrick's event, organized by a Fairfax mom. Afterwards, a few of them were so inspired by their ability to make a positive difference that they decided to lead a recycling effort at Fairfax. With the support of parents and other community members, they'll pursue this work this year. I'm hopeful that these efforts will inspire a broader districtwide effort to reduce litter and increase recycling in the community.
  • The same mom who organized the St. Baldrick's event implemented a Young Author's Conference last year. She recruited parents and community volunteers so that all the children in the school could experience the thrill of writing their own books, then having them printed and “published.”

All of these efforts have a monumental impact in supplementing the staff's efforts to continually improve the school experience and environment.

Recently, Reaching Heights adopted Go Public! Great Schools Are Everybody's Business, a grassroots movement through which community members and families are working with the school district to implement new initiatives. It’s our hope that this collaboration will bring ever-greater benefits to the schools and the community.

We need everyone to join our team. Together, we can make our CH-UH schools the very best they can be. Welcome and thanks for joining Tiger Nation!

Joan Spoerl

Joan Spoerl is founder of Go Public! Great Schools Are Everybody's Business, and an early childhood consultant with more than 13 years of combined experience teaching kindergarten, Head Start, preschool and college.

Read More on Opinion
Volume 5, Issue 9, Posted 9:52 AM, 09.02.2012