Monday, September 10, 2012
‘I Am PTA’: Busy mom embraces belief that ‘If everybody pitches in a little bit, it all adds up’
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. The series includes this article about Vida Burton, who is active at Veterans Park Elementary.
(Photo from FCPS)
Though Vida Burton’s days are full, she makes time for the things that bring her joy – like volunteering at Veterans Park Elementary.
“When I see the look on my kids’ faces when I come to school and they see me, I get so excited and it just makes my day,” she said.
Burton, who is from Iran, joined PTA when her son started kindergarten six years ago.
“The first year I didn’t really know what to do or what to expect. I’d heard of PTA but had no clue what it stood for,” she said, laughing.
She got a better handle by attending meetings, observing activities and pitching in wherever help was needed. Soon, she was chairing committees. Last year, she was PTA president.
“It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy it. I have a full-time job, too, and go to school full-time at Sullivan (University) to get my master’s, so I just have to squeeze it in,” said Burton, accounting supervisor at Toyota Tsucho America in Georgetown.
She recalled the success of the 2011 Back to School Bash, which stoked enthusiasm and eased the younger students’ fears, as well as community support for VPE’s silent auction fundraiser. While such accomplishments provide a sense a fulfillment, interacting with the people is her favorite part of PTA.
“I like to be involved with the kids, and knowing the teachers and the staff, it helps you know your kids are in good hands,” said Burton, whose daughter is a third-grader. “It also teaches me a lot of things about the school system. It helps me learn how the system works here and what areas need help.”
Whether it’s reading to classes, making copies in the office or simply having lunch with a child, parents interested in volunteering can find something constructive to do.
“Some people wait to be called, but I just go to school and say, ‘Hey, do you have anything to do or need any help?’” Burton said. “There’s always stuff to do. If everybody just pitches in a little bit, it all adds up. In order to help your kid, you need to be involved.”
For some international families, the language barrier might hinder their stepping forward. But she maintains that the common ground among parents outweighs any gaps.
“Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce words right – you can communicate somehow. Write it down, do sign language – whatever it is, we’ll do it. Just get out there and be involved. We need to do this for the kids and make sure they’re all taken care of,” Burton said, adding, “Once they start, they’ll see it’s not that hard to be part of PTA. Anybody can do it.”
“I am PTA” series on KyForward:
Azetta Beatty at Julius Marks Elementary
Sarah-Ashley Solie at Stonewall Elementary
David Kidd at Wellington Elementary