January 2011 General Meeting Minutes

January PTO General Meeting



Minutes taken by Jennifer Brogno, typed up and distributed by Vicki Haviland

Introductions of all PTO members in the room

December minutes approved.

Naela explained that  PTO minutes, along with much other PTO information such as budgets, contact information, etc. . .  is available at the PTO website.  To reach it, you can click through from the Dicken homepage, or you can go directly there at www.dickenpto.wordpress.com.

President’s Report – Naela Jenkins

Election process

At the 3rd general meeting of the year, which will be in April, we will vote in the new PTO board for next year.  If current members would like to remain, contact Naela.  30 days before this meeting we will be nominating a new board, so we will put out a PTO Blast saying what positions are available and describing them,  and asking for people to join the board.  We do need at least 5 members to carry over to next year.  The slate will be posted 5 days prior to the vote – it will be posted at school, and on the website.  We would love to have new people join the board!


Calendar review

  • 1-11:  The DESK crew initiative – we will be recruiting fathers to play a more active role in the school.  There will be pizza from 6-7 pm.  There will be some presentations about volunteer opportunities.
  • 1-14:  MLK Jr. Assembly for the school – Vincent York from Jazzistry will be here.
  • 1-18:  Equity meeting – UM Professor Percy Bates and his staff will be coming in to discuss and do follow up from last year’s events at Dicken.  This will be a chance to come together to review and to make plans to move forward.  Liz Margolis and LeeAnn Dickinson-Kelly will attend.  School leaders including members of the PTO Board, the BPSSG Board will attend the meeting.  Contact Mike Madison if you’d like to attend and you are not a PTO Board member.  Only Dicken parents and guardians may attend.
  • 1-20:  Community Night Out at Joe’s Crab Shack
  • 1-25:  5th grade musical and Super Science Day
  • 2-1:  Kindergarten Super Science Day
  • 2-3:  PTO Board Meeting
  • 2-8:  Kindergarten Round Up for parents only
  • 2-10:  Slauson Cluster Concert
  • 2-14:  NAAPID organized by a BPSSG committee chaired by LaShawna Brandon.  LaRon Williams, story teller, will perform.
  • 2-15:  Friends of Dicken Woods is co-sponsoring the Dicken Woods Winter Walk, with 2-17 as the bad weather back-up day.  There has been thought about doing this every other year.  We discussed setting up a committee to help her so that we could keep it annual – we could add this to the time and talent survey.

Healthy Snack Initiative– Sonya Lewis

Sonya reviewed concerns about too many treats in classrooms. She and Janine Hutchinson put together a survey to see what people think about the issue.  The survey would bring the issue to everyone in the school.  They presented this at the last meeting and our comments were incorporated.  They need to get final approval from Mike and the teachers and then will create an electronic survey.  Though last year’s electronic survey only got 57 responses, they hope to get enough responses to help us align with new federal and district standards.

Mike shared that the staff doesn’t want the survey to go out with the current wording, especially questions 3, 4, and 5.  They value parent input and see education as a collaborative partnership, but some of the questions rub teachers the wrong way.

Teacher representative Sally Steward shared that staff has asked families to please come to us if there are concerns.  Teachers try to be as compassionate, sensitive, and flexible as we can.  We want to listen and to problem solve. Staff wants to work with each set of parents to set policies, and wondered if parents had talked to teachers about their concerns.  Were concerns raised and teachers didn’t respond?

Sonya shared that she doesn’t know the answer to that, but that she personally had not wanted to hurt the teacher’s feelings.  Sonya shared the idea of having  a building-wide policy so that there is not great discrepancy between classrooms.  The survey wasn’t meant to be critical, but wanted it to be an effort to work together.  The biggest issues are around birthday celebrations and bake sales.

We discussed the idea of combining healthy snacks and some sweets.  We could create some guidelines that would add consistency among rooms.  We could work with room parents to create some guidelines.  Kirsten Segal suggested bringing it up at the next PTOC meeting she attends to get suggestions.  We talked to other schools, but the one monthly birthday was not popular.

We continued to discuss issues such as different parenting styles, the problems that arise when kids eat sweets at school and then parents feel they cannot give them their own treats at home or being counterproductive to what you do at home.  Staff has already tried to cut out sweets for rewards for this year.  There was also a suggestion that the next Dicken cookbook could include more healthy recipes.  Room parents could also coordinate next year to establish some food/snack/party guidelines and expectations.

We wrapped up the discussion with Naela suggesting that Janine and Sonya talk with Sally about the 3 main district guidelines and the staff priorities.

Kris Groh – new District enrichment coordinator for the Slauson cluster

Kris has kids at Bach and will look at the curriculum to provide enrichment opportunities to enrich all kids’ experience in school.  She wants to focus on activities such as 4th and 5th grade Knowledge Master that gives extra learning, quizzes, geography, grammar, and literature.  Other ideas include math pentathalon games where kids learn games they can then teach buddies.  It could also provide enrichment activities to kids who finish in-class work early.  Another example could be dissecting and displaying sheep eyes, which could tie in with the 3rd grade study of light.

Kris also wants to do some helping with field trips.  Her position is funded by the Ann Arbor Educational Foundation and she works 5 hours a week at each of the Slauson Cluster schools.  She has met with Jennifer Streeter about how to help with enrichment opportunities that are already in development.

Recess Players with math games will be every Thursday and will start next week.  We will be putting up posters to give a good variety of activities to all kids.  Kris will come to a staff meeting next week, and has other ideas such as Recess readers.  There will be a binder with resources available in the office.  If you find something you want to do, you can contact Kris or Jennifer Streeter.

She may have a different budget for each school, and is working with corporate partners for funding.  She would like to teach Trailblazers to help.  She will also talk to LaShawna about how to apply some of the ideas and games to the Woodchase homework club.

Principal’s Report – Mike Madison

  • Youth Savings Program

Thanks to parents for participating in the Comerica Initative; staff also came to the presentation about the banking program.  At the end of January, there will be a brief presentation in the Media Center for all kids about managing money, and parents will be able to sign up their kids at NAAPID.  Starting 3/3, kids who are signed up will be able to make deposits at the beginning of the day.  Student Council will be tellers, bank guards, etc. . . and representatives from Comerica will be there with real accounts.  We will have 4 deposit dates:  4-14, 5-5, 6-2.  There will also be media center presentations for all kids on those days.  Kids can also make deposits over the summer.

We are not sure what will happen after this pilot program – we will see and will work it out with Comerica and Dicken staff.

  • Oration Club:  a retired teacher would like to teach oration skills to kids, but needs a parent or teacher to co-teach it.  This volunteer would like to avoid Rec and Ed fees.  The teacher would like to start in Feb/March, and would offer this to grades 1-5 after school on Tuesdays or Thursdays from 4-5 for no cost!
  • MLK Day:  Vincent, an artist in residence (for AAPS?) will work with small groups on music.  On 1-11, grades 3-5 will get 1 hour with instruments.  On 1-12, grades 1-2 will get one hour and kindergarten will get 30 minutes.
  • Annarbor.com article on bullying

Dicken is doing some training in classrooms now on exclusion, name calling, hat swiping.  The focus will be on treating others with respect.  SIT did a survey on building climate last year.

  • Superintendent search

There are 60-70 applicants, and they are narrowing these down to 5 for interviews.  They must keep these confidential due to present employment contracts of these applicants.

  • 1-18 Equity Meeting

Will include getting information from parents, do an exercise to gather information, and do some exercises on racism.  This is for Dicken parents and teachers only and could serve as a pilot for other schools.