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Open Letter to the Residents of Santa Monica and Malibu

September 6, 2007,

Yesterday, like many thousands of parents in Santa Monica and Malibu, I was busy at my children’s schools, helping them settle in for their new year, and making sure I had done my job to ensure that all the details were in place to ensure a smooth start for all.

As I walked through the schools, reconnecting with old friends and watching my sons navigate between nervousness and excitement, I was once again, overwhelmed by what has now become an annual revelation – that of gratitude and respect for the army of PTA volunteers who contribute not only to opening day at our schools, but to every day.

PTAs contribution cannot be underestimated and makes the difference between adequacy and excellence for our schools, our parents and students, our teachers and staff, and indeed for our communities. From the extraordinary leadership generated by our PTA Unit Presidents, to the support and guidance coming from Executive Board members and committee chairs both at PTA Council and at units, to the thousands of PTA volunteers who perform innumerable tasks to help provide resources and assistance for our parents, teachers, and administration – our Santa Monica Malibu Council of PTAs, each and every one of us joined together this opening day to provide World Class Support to our World Class Schools.

Superintendent Dianne Talarico has asked for 2007-2008 to be the year of teamwork. On this opening day I was startled and impressed by the level of genuine cooperation between PTAs, principals, teachers and staff that I saw at the schools I visited. It was more than just a word.

Teamwork was living and breathing in our schools in a way that comforted parents, eased transitions for students, and ultimately provided a calm and productive work environment for teachers and staff. PTA is committed to keeping this teamwork going throughout the year to help ensure that closing day is as calm and productive as this opening day.

PTA, and indeed everyone in the education community has a big year ahead and I call upon all of our PTA leaders and members to focus our year on cooperation and communication.

From our end, cooperation between parents, administrators, teachers and staff is a welcome and necessary beginning. But we must also continue to strive to cooperate between schools. In addition, our schools and our PTA Council will be striving for opportunities for cooperation and collaboration with our communities, as well as community leaders and organizations. We know how much our schools contribute to our communities, and we know and appreciate how much our communities contribute to our schools. We hope this year, and for many years to come, to find ways to bring our communities into our schools and our schools into our communities.

Communication will also be an important focus for us this year. When I speak to our PTA leaders at each of our school sites, I am constantly astonished by something wonderful going on at that site that I had never heard about before. These little gems (and often not so little) shouldn’t be secrets! We all need to know about them – and we need to tell our communities.

When I was young, the beginning of school was always my very favorite time of year, filled with promise, excitement and challenges just waiting to be conquered. Yesterday, on my first “First day of school” as Santa Monica Malibu PTA Council President, I had that feeling again. We have accomplished so much, and have so much ahead of us.

My fourth-grader burst out of school at the end of his first day, beaming, and announced that this was going to be “the best year ever”! I knew that was true – and I also knew that was thanks to the combined effort of our whole team!

Rebecca Soladay Kennerly
Santa Monica Malibu Council of PTAs

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