Parents gather on the first day of school to talk about volunteer opportunities at the PA Get INvolved event.

This week the Colorado Academy Parent Association held an orientation meeting for dozens of volunteers who have committed to take on committee chair roles. As I prepared for this meeting, I had a flashback to an event I attended several years ago.

I was sitting in the audience among parent association leaders from across the state at a conference sponsored by the Association of Colorado Independent Schools. The speaker asked the attendees about their school’s succession planning for PA President roles. Many schools had a situation like CA in which a President-Elect was named each year to fill the role of President the following year. In contrast, I was struck by a handful of stories about schools where parent association leaders remained in their roles, sometimes for many years, due to the absence of other parents wanting to participate and succeed them.

Fast forward to this spring, when I began working on one of my first tasks as the PA president. We needed to fill 33 committee chair positions, either with new or returning volunteers, and I assumed I’d be looking throughout the spring and summer. I pictured a scenario where I would be calling in favors to get the roles filled. Starting in March, I contacted past volunteers in these roles and individuals who had either expressed interest in getting involved or who had been recommended by their peers. Within days, I had an outpouring of interest. Many volunteers wanted to stay in their roles for another year. For the other roles, there was at least one, if not more, parents who were interested in helping.


A commitment to service

When I thought about this experience as school began this week and compared it to what I had heard at that meeting several years ago, I had two overwhelming emotions. My heart went out to parents in other circumstances where commitment to service and engagement are not as commonplace as it is at CA. I also felt a powerful sense of gratitude to be in an environment where participation, service, and engagement are widely shared norms.

I often have a mixed sense of both fabulously good fortune, being able to enjoy (with my children!) the history, community, and education at CA, but also of responsibility for stewardship. I know that I will be here for a very short time, and I hope to pass along this precious experience to many others who will follow. I think this idea is, in some way, shared by many at CA and may be part of “the secret sauce” that makes the parent community here so powerful and productive.

I want to point out to many of our new parents in the community, including those who, with COVID-19, have not had a chance to become engaged and experience the fun that we have together, that there are many roles to fill and rewarding jobs to be done as we serve CA! You don’t have to have any particular aspirations as you begin to get involved in different Parent Association committees. Just come and have fun, meet fellow parents, learn from others who have traveled with their children where yours have not yet gone, and know that we are better together with more input and perspective.

I look forward to seeing you at some point this year. Please contact me any time with questions, concerns, or feedback that you think would improve our work at CA.