It was only my 3rd day in school, still only teaching one hour, working on improving my schedule, trying to remember the names of the other teachers and some of the students but for some reason my determined self decided it was a good time to start a PTA. Or, at least plant the idea of it.
I was talking to my neighbor, Tapu, about the money parents give to feed the students every morning. It is 2 tala per family, whether you have 1 or 10 students you pay 2 tala. Really cheap, only 8 tala a month (tala is like a dollar). The parents raised up 900 tala before school started and the School Committee "lost" the money. (Sadly this happens often in Samoa). The 900 tala the parents saved up and actually paid is just lost without any explanation and nobody (that I know of) is fully investigating. Tapu's idea was for me to be in charge of the money instead of the School Committee and the conversation led to the idea starting of a PTA!
Having a PTA will help with more than just the bread and money situation and I have a lot of ideas, we can do parent teacher conferences, maybe a maturation program the parents can be apart of, homework center where parents take turns helping all the students, camps... It will be awesome to have more support from the parents and build a strong relationship with the teachers. Not to mention- if there are problems, it is easier when there are multiple voices instead of just one. Safer in groups!
I asked my Pule (Principal) about having a PTA and I could tell she was not for the idea, (more eyes on her and the teachers, who wants that?) her excuse was she was so so busy and we needed permission from MESC (Ministration of Education), if the parents needed to talk with the teachers they could do that on their own time. She told me not to worry about that.
**I am always being told "not to worry about that" when they do not want me to do something. Decorating my class before the man teacher wanted me to move classes, "oh do not worry about that" don't worry about cleaning your classroom, or I want to go to the main city and my host mum doesn't want me to go, I ask about the bus, "oh, do not worry about that" don't worry about the bus schedule, always- "Do not worry about that."**
|Parents showing up EARLY :)|
|Tapu Ti, he is the MAN! High Chief of the Village|
also one of my closest friends here.
I sent out notices to all the students about the meeting being held in 4 days. The notice said everyone has the same voice and to come see what this "American Program" is all about. (Everyone has the same voice... Because here in Samoa if you have a title or are older you get more of a say and make all the decisions, but in my program we are all on the same level). I sent out another notice the day of the meeting. My Pule seemed concerned but did not say anything and let me do my thing.
The day of the meeting Tapu and I were guessing how many people would show. He said he tried a PTA years ago but only 5 people showed up once... The meeting started at 5:00 and people were even showing early! Strange for Samoa!! The meeting lasted 2 hours and only a little bit of it turned into the Fa'aSamoa
(meaning long speeches thanking and giving respect instead of just getting straight to the point).
We discussed WHAT the PTA is, talked about the situation with the bread and appointed 3 positions making me the President. (ME? President of the PTA. I don't have any kids, not a certified teacher in the states, NEVER have I ever attended a PTA meeting in my life or know much about it, can't speak Samoan and yet I am elected President.) I will be President for the first bit teaching them how to run a PTA. Once they know how then I will step down and still be a member, hopefully by the time I leave Samoa they will be able to continue on their own. I do not know what is being said 80% of the time so I got someone to translate and keep a record of what is being said. At the meetings I glance at the paper during so I can help lead the conversation...
We are going to run the meetings (for now) every 2 weeks. We scheduled when the next meeting will be and I said I'd sent out a notice as a reminder. They LOVED the notices, never have they had a piece of paper sent home for a meeting or announcement. Something so simple and easy I learned from the states makes a HUGE difference.
|Total of 45 people in the meeting!|
|Auala's new PTA|
My host mum (also a teacher) is not a fan of the PTA. She was upset when she heard I was the President and in charge of the money (for now, just teaching them how to keep a record so it can not get "lost" again). She told me "not to worry about that," with the money until after my PC meeting. My PC came on Monday, I told PC to let my host mum know PC supports the PTA as well... not sure just yet how this is going to turn out. I'll keep you updated. Just another speed bump, hopefully a small one but at least we have the wheels turning.