Monday, August 20, 2012
‘I Am PTA’: Despite demanding job, Beatty takes time to promote reading at Julius Marks
By Tammy Lane
Fayette County Public Schools
Editor’s note: The 16th District PTA’s back-to-school campaign, “I am PTA,” celebrates the diversity of members and their experiences in PTA and PTSA. This article about Azetta Beatty, whose daughter attends Julius Marks Elementary, is the first in a series.
“For me, coming in, I didn’t have an image of PTA. I just thought PTA works with students and with parents and with schools. Getting in there and seeing where the money’s going and how the students are benefitting made me that much more interested in helping,” said Azetta Beatty, an active volunteer.
Azetta Beatty chose to dive in as a volunteer at Julius Marks Elementary, and she has made the most of every opportunity these past three years.
“I’m a working mom with a demanding job, but I’m always seeking ways to get involved and make a difference. I thought the PTA would be a good place to start,” said Beatty, whose daughter is a second-grader.
The 16th District PTA’s “I am PTA” campaign, which coincides with chapters’ membership drives, highlights the diversity of people and experiences in PTA and PTSA. Beatty’s story, for instance, illustrates how parents can promote student achievement.
Last fall she spearheaded a new initiative at Julius Marks called “Read to Me Week.” In her work as senior assistant director in the James W. Stuckert Career Center at the University of Kentucky, Beatty organizes career fairs and handles myriad details, so planning this schoolwide activity was a natural fit with her personality and skills. She recruited other parents, librarians and teachers along with guest readers for what she hoped would become an annual event.
“Some people want to help but don’t know how. It was great to have people who were willing, and I just plugged them in,” she said.
Beatty is passionate about this particular PTA project because reading undergirds everything the students learn and do. She eagerly pulled everyone on board to engage the kids, and the spillover effect had children still reading extra books months later.
“It created a buzz for the students that reading is important and you use reading every single day no matter what you’re doing,” she recalled.
Beatty’s involvement in PTA has steadily grown. The first year, she mainly got to know the process and the people, volunteered at school fairs and attended meetings. The following year, she became a committee chair. Now there’s talk of her taking the president’s seat.
“For me, coming in, I didn’t have an image of PTA. I just thought PTA works with students and with parents and with schools. Getting in there and seeing where the money’s going and how the students are benefitting made me that much more interested in helping,” she said.
“PTA is what you make it. There’s no cookie-cutter approach,” she added.
The key is to identify what the students need and find a way to make it happen.
“It truly is a collective effort where the parents bring their voices to the table and figure out ‘What can we do? How can we help?’”