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Baldwin Park Living Friday, Sep. 20, 2019 1 year ago

Glenridge Middle PTSA board comprises 'dream team'

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With an almost entirely brand-new PTSA board, Glenridge Middle School is ready to kick off an exciting new school year.
by: Danielle Hendrix Associate Editor

The beginning of a new school year is prime time for brand-new school supplies, clothes and daily routines.

And for Glenridge Middle School, the 2019-20 school year has kicked off with an almost entirely brand-new Parent Teacher Student Association board.

Of the eight board members, only one has served on the PTSA board at Glenridge previously. With so many fresh faces now at the helm of the organization, the group is working together tirelessly to promote school spirit and birth a new era for the PTSA.

This year’s PTSA board is comprised of Tanya Veras serving as president, Mandy Borkman as vice president of fundraising, Angie Montenegro as vice president of merchandise, Sara-lyn Rodriguez as vice president of mini-grants, Ann Stevens as recording secretary, Helinfield Hanecak as treasurer, Kelly Hagy as corresponding secretary and Katie Maun as vice president of student involvement.

PTSA President Tanya Veras said she came on board when she was approached by the principal, Dr. Christopher Camacho toward the end of last school year. 

“The reason (I joined), in all reality, is being able to serve the school that my kids go to — it is an honor,” Veras says. “And for someone to think that highly of me that I’d be able to serve in this position, I was full of gratitude. I certainly am doing everything I can to make sure that Dr. Camacho is grateful that he asked me.” 

Stevens, the only returning board member, is also the SAC chair at Glenridge. All of the children of the parents she’d worked with previously have gone on to high school now, and she says she stayed a PTSA board member to help with continuity and connect the two organizations.

For others, they had been involved in similar organizations at schools like Baldwin Park Elementary and Aloma Elementary.

When the new board members got together, they realized they had a lot of potential — and a lot of ideas. Putting their heads together, they have come up with three areas, or pillars, of the foundation for the PTSA culture they want to foster.

“I think there’s really three main goals I have for PTSA this year, and the first is to build community,” Veras says. “(We are about) being inclusive, and I think you build it one family at a time. I would say our second pillar is to have more students and teachers involved, so one of the things I’m super excited about is we have 100% of our faculty and staff as members of the PTSA. That is amazing. The third pillar is just advocating on behalf of all students.”

From left: Ann Stevens, Tanya Veras, Sara-lyn Rodriguez, Katie Maun, Angie Montenegro, Mandy Borkman, Kelly Hagy, Helinfield Hanecak and Glenridge Principal Dr. Christopher Camacho.

The board also recognized that it’s hard to truly have a PTSA organization without the “T” and the “S” involved, so there is now a PTSA Student Club. Over the summer alone, more than 50 students decided to get involved with this club.

“In co-creating this — this is certainly not a one-man show — and in spreading ideas and brainstorming, a PTSA Student Club came out of this brainstorm session,” Veras says. “One thing led to another and next thing you know, we had a kickoff meeting.”

The goals of the PTSA Student Club are to build community and foster inclusivity, to build leadership skills and to provide opportunities for community service.

In addition to this brand-new club, the PTSA board also has its hands in creating and planning multiple events throughout the year — for the students, families and the community at large. The biggest fundraiser planned thus far is the Viva Las Vegas Silent Auction and Party, which will take place Friday, Nov. 8, at the Orlando Museum of Art.

It’s about building community, and a great way to do that is to have an excellent event that will build community and raise funds for the school.” — Mandy Borkman

The adult-only event will include casino tables, a DJ, food and a silent auction. Teachers and families are being encouraged to save the date and join in on the event, which will raise funds for school and teacher activities.

“It’s about building community, and a great way to do that is to have an excellent event that will build community and raise funds for the school,” Mandy Borkman says. “We’re going to raise funds to be able to support Dr. Camacho and his ideas, and the teachers and students, and help make this year successful.”

And for the first time in a long time, the PTSA is planning an eighth-grade trip in March to New York City. Students would get to see a Broadway show, take a ferry to Ellis Island, see the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State building, take a double-decker bus tour and more.

“I’ve heard of eighth-grade trips before, and I want Glenridge to have it all,” Veras says. “I want to be able to provide everything that every other school is providing to their students. Thankfully, I have amazing sidekicks and a board that I couldn’t do and live without.”

The PTSA members encourage any parent, teacher, student or community member who is interested in getting involved at Glenridge to reach out and join the group. And with all of the amazing ideas, upcoming events and involvement the PTSA is gearing up to pour into the school, Camacho said he has a winning team.

“It has left me with an exciting feeling, simple as that,” he says. “When people ask me what I do, I don’t give them a title. I say, ‘I get to be part of a young person’s life today.’ I don’t think any test score will ever dictate that, because of the experiences they’re going to have firsthand here in leadership and serving others. We’ve got adults that are modeling that for them — that right there is beautiful within itself. We’re raising young people and have examples for them, and everything just falls into place.”

Danielle Hendrix is the Associate Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She is a 2015 graduate of the University of Central Florida, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in world comparative studies. ...

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