Huntsville Council of PTAs
October 2011
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In This Issue
990 Night
Free Money!
Reflections Deadline Approaching
Dads' Night at the Movies
Great Idea
Golden Apple Awards
Membership Awards
Internet Safety
Speakers' Bureau
Teach for America
Volunteer Recruitment
UAH Junior Charger Kids Club
Political Training Institute
Tinsel Trail
National PTA Dues Increase
Got Caps?
Town Hall Meeting

Message from the President 

Thanks to all of our PTA leaders who came out to our reception with Dr. Wardynski!  It was great to have a chance to talk with Dr. Wardynski and with the system's new CFO Frank Spinelli one-on-one.  Thank you also to School Board members Topper Birney, David Blair, Laurie McCaulley, Alta Morrison, and Jennie Robinson who also came out to support our event.  A special thanks to Lacey Sharpe, the Council's Vice-President - Legislative, for coordinating the reception. 

Dr W reception
Left to right: Lacey Sharpe (VP-Legislative), Dr. Casey Wardynski (Superintendent), Kelly May (VP-Family Support); Melissa Thompson (President); Shannon Bingham (Treasurer); Elisa Ferrell (VP-Programs); Terrie Littrell (VP-Volunteer Coordination)

See more pictures from the reception at the bottom of this newsletter.


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Keeping the IRS happy . . .


IRS dreamsDoes the thought of filing your PTA's 990 tax return give you nightmares?  Or, are you like most people who just have questions to make sure that you are filling it out correctly?  Well, help is on the way!  The Huntsville Council of PTAs is sponsoring our first-ever  990 Night on Tuesday, November 1, from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at Hampton Cove Middle School.  We will meet in the computer lab there.  Bring your year-end financial statements, your tax i.d. number, and any other paperwork that you'll need to complete your tax return.  We'll have Internet access, and you should be able to file your 990 that night before you leave!  Even if you are a seasoned veteran, come join with other PTA treasurers and enjoy some camaraderie while you complete this necessary task.  It will be the most fun that you've ever had doing your taxes!  Sweet dreams . . .


Shannon Bingham


iNow Update

Within the next few days, Huntsville City Schools will be sharing an update about the iNow system, and specifically the timing of the opening of the parent portal.  We will pass that information along to you as soon as it becomes available.

Free Money Awarded to Seven Local Units

The fall grants deadline was October 1st.   This semester saw a 700% increase in applicant participation.   We had seven $500 grants to award this fall, and it was a tough decision for our judges to make.   Mrs. Susan Wardynski and Mrs. Eula Battle were on our grant selection committee.   After a great deal of consideration, they were able to narrow down the grant applications to the seven winners.  Those winners, in alphabetical order, are:

  • AAA - increasing math proficiency with AR Web-based programsMoney
  • Grissom High School - two Parent University classes, Socially Responsible: Legal and Ethical Guidelines in Social Media and Social Hosting, and Ready, Set, Go: Preparing Our Students for College and Independence
  • Huntsville Special Education PTA - speakers for topics specific to special education that would be open to parents, teachers and the surrounding community
  • L.J. Morris - building up the success of Morris Elementary through parent involvement with iMom and AllProDad's breakfasts
  • Providence Middle School - purchasing award winning-books and audio books for all students to use in their library
  • University Place - working with the Village of Promise to reestablish the local PTA
  • West Mastin Lake PTA - providing take-home math bags filled with projects every week to reinforce essential skills at each child's grade level

This year the judges gave us feedback on the applicants who did not receive a grant, and we will be sharing that information with the PTAs involved. The judges wanted the schools to know what kept them from receiving the funding, so that they could better prepare themselves for the spring grants.  Schools who won fall grants are not eligible to apply for spring grants.  


Thank you again for participating in the process. We look forward to hearing from each school on the outcome and successes of their projects.


Elisa Ferrell

Vice-President of Programs

Reflections Deadline Quickly Approaching


The deadline to turn your Reflections entries in to the Council for city-wide judging is November 10th. Layna Payne and Deanne Foy, the Reflections committee chairs, will be at the MERTS center from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to receive your students' entries.  If for some reason you are unable to drop off your entries at the Merts Center on the 10th, contact them to arrange another time to turn in your entries. Please note that all entries must be received by the 10th.  


Prior to turning in your students' entries, please make sure they have followed all the guidelines to the letter. We would hate to have to reject an entry because the name is in the wrong place or the frame is the wrong size. Once we receive the entries, we cannot make any adjustments to them, however slight, to make them compliant. We have to reject several entries every year. Please help your students receive the opportunity to place or win at the city and state level by making sure they have followed the guidelines available on the Huntsville Council of PTAs' website


If you have questions or need additional information, please contact one of the coordinators listed below:

Lots of Courageous Dads


Courageous Dads

A HUGE "thank you" to all of the schools who participated in our Dad's Night at the Movies in September. We had PTA parents from 17 schools attend the movie Courageous on opening night along with Dr.and Mrs. Wardynski and Laurie McCaulley, President of our School Board. Everyone sat together at Monaco and experienced every emotion you can imagine while watching this movie. Please continue to promote this movie in your local units. It will speak to parents, especially dads, in a powerful way. The timing of this movie supported Mayor Battle's Parent Engagement Month perfectly. Let's continue to keep the momentum going as we encourage and equip PTA dads. Again, a special thanks to St. Luke Christian Church, Union Hill Primitive Baptist Church, and Willowbrook Baptist Church for sponsoring this event so that our PTA dads could enjoy subsidized tickets!  


Kelly May

Vice-President of Family Support

Recognition for a Great Idea


All of our local units were offered discounted tickets to see the movie

Courageous.  Whitesburg Middle School used a creative way to make their tickets available to interested dads, and great ideas need to be shared!  Students were asked to submit a "well-written paragraph" about why their dad deserved to get a ticket.  The teachers then chose the winning entries, among them this entry from a 6th grade student:


The reason my dad deserves the movie ticket is because he is the best dad in the world.  He cooks and cleans and he loves me no matter what.  Sometimes I may be mad at him, but my dad still loves me.  He works really hard to fulfill one of our goals, which is buying a house.  I do admit that I lied to him before, but we still trust each other.  My dad always tells me to do my best and follow my heart.  He also tells me to believe in myself, which is one of the things I do.  He pushes me to be a responsible person.  Together we say our prayers every night and he never gives up.


Way to go, Whitesburg Middle School PTA, for bringing a creative and fun approach to this event and for making it even more special for the fathers who were honored with winning tickets!

Golden Apple Awarded to Some Special Principals

Congratulations to the following principals who earned the PTA's Golden Apple Award for having 100% of their certified teachers join their PTA this year: 

  • Anne Jobe (Academy for Academics and Arts PTA)
  • Dr. Tammy Summerville (Academy for Science & Foreign Language PTA)
  • Donna Hasty (Challenger Middle School PTSA)
  • Peggy Harris (Chapman Elementary PTA)
  • Donna White (Farley Elementary PTA)
  • Brad Scott (Goldsmith-Schiffman Elementary School PTA)
  • Dr. Ava Waters-Maze (Hampton Cove Elementary School PTA)
  • Dr. Debi Edwards (Hampton Cove Middle PTA)
  • Leslie Esneault (Huntsville High School PTSA)
  • Dr. Debbie Hargett (Huntsville Middle PTA)golden apple
  • Paula Thompson (J. O. Johnson High School PTSA)
  • Dr. Avis Williams (James E. Williams Middle PTA)
  • Jeanne Greer (Jones Valley Elementary PTA)
  • Christie Finley (Monte Sano Elementary PTA)
  • Lathan Strong (Montview Elementary School PTA)
  • Nancy Murphree (Mountain Gap Elementary PTA)
  • John Timlin (Mountain Gap Middle School PTA)
  • Gwen Foster (Providence K-8 PTA)
  • Sanchella Graham (Roger B. Chaffee PTA)
  • B.T. Drake (Virgil I. Grissom PTSA)
  • Heather Bradwell (Weatherly Heights Elementary PTA)
  • Dr. John Humphrey (West Mastin Lake PTA)
  • Tim Sutton (Whitesburg Elementary PTA)
  • Greg Hicks (Whitesburg Middle PTA)

We recognize that PTA is a partnership between parents, teachers, and school administration.  You have each led the way in showing that parental involvement is important at your schools, and we are so grateful for your support!

Results are in . . .

great job








The Huntsville Council is very proud of each of you.

Keep up the good work.


Don't forget the Golden Leaf Award due December 1


TRAINING is available to all local units,

please contact Melissa Thompson or Melinda Ewing

for more details.



Melinda Ewing

Vice-President of Membership

Get the Download on Internet Safety

Hampton Cove Middle School will be hosting a Brown Bag Lunch on December 2nd from 12:00-1:00 p.m., and they have opened this event to PTA parents from other schools as well.  Bring a lunch and bring a friend!  Beth Jackson, the Community Educator with the Children's Advocacy Center, will teach parents what Internet safety looks like in the home; she will have a Power Point presentation and handouts to reinforce this important issue.  Topics addressed will include safe texting, "sexting," responsible Facebooking, and safe blogging.  Please reserve a spot now; RSVP to [email protected].   The school is located at 261-B Old Hwy 431 in Hampton Cove.

Speakers' Bureau

Speakers Bureau


As promised, we are working on a list of speakers who have volunteered their time to speak on topics important to your parents in your local units.  We have some speakers committed at this point and are in the process of finding others. Once we finalize details, you will be given a list of topics ranging from Internet Safety to Healthy Living for Your Teen to Social Hosting, and the list goes on.  Please check out our WEBSITE for the most-updated list of available topics.  If you would like to secure a speaker for a PTA meeting or join together with another unit and plan a speaker night, just let us know and we will put you in contact with that speaker.  Hopefully, this will assist your PTA in further equipping your parents.  Thank you for all of your suggestion about topics.  If you have a speaker who would like to donate their time, please let me know.  We hope to have our list ready in next month's newsletter!

Kelly May

Vice-President of Family Support

Teach for America

Huntsville City Schools recently announced an exciting partnership with the Teach For America organization.  This partnership will bring top teachers from across America into our school system.  So that our PTA leaders will be equipped with information about this program, we have asked Teach For America to share a little more information about who they are and what they do. 


teach for america


Teach For America is growing the movement of leaders who work to ensure that kids growing up in poverty get an excellent education.  teach for america mission

  • We recruit diverse leaders of all backgrounds with track records of leadership, achievement, and perseverance to teach for at least two years in low-income, urban and rural public schools. In the 2011-2012 school year, 9,300 Teach For America teachers will impact over 600,000 students in 43 regions nationwide.
  • Teach For America trains and supports its teachers to ensure that they can have an immediate positive impact in the classroom.
  • Nearly 24,000 Teach For America alumni continue to work across sectors to ensure all children have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.


Impact in the Classroom

Teach For America corps members work in partnership with families and communities to identify the best ways to support students for success and to create a broad culture of achievement. 


Teach For America * Alabama  

Teach For America became part of the Alabama community in 2010. Alabama corps members don't just teach - they're part of the fabric of their communities. They've coached the state champion basketball team, co-founded an award winning robotics club, and even created a summer school for eighth-graders. In 2011, the number of corps members increased from 32 to over 75. Teach For America partners with 10 school districts in Alabama, including Huntsville, as an additional source of effective teachers. Corps members are part of 40 school communities. Learn more about us and our work at our WEBSITE

Volunteer Recruitment Made Easy!

Need help getting volunteers?  Take out the calling, emailing and begging and let them decide.  At the beginning of each year, Chapman Elementary circulates a volunteer form that lists all activities for the upcoming year.  Parents and guardians are given the opportunity to select what they feel led to do, and then the PTA is able to staff events and activities much easier than in the past.  As of today, we already have 20 volunteers for one of our events before even circulating the sign-up sheet.   CLICK HERE to download our form, which you can use as a template; you can then create one for your school and see how it works.

Vice-President of Volunteer Support 

UAH Junior Charger Kids Club

The UAH Junior Charger Kids Club provides enjoyment for children ages 4-12 at UAH Athletic events. The $10 membership per child includes: UAH Kids Club

  • One free Junior Charger Kids Club T-shirt
  • Joining the players on the field for the National Anthem at all UAH baseball or softball games
  • Dribbling and shooting at halftime of all UAH men's and women's basketball games
  • Free general admission for Kids Club members to all UAH home athletic contests

For more information or to register, CLICK HERE to download a flyer.

Serving Our Community

Our PTA leaders have demonstrated their commitment to serve our community.  If you are interested in taking your service to a new level by running for political office or if you just want to learn more about how to get your candidate elected, you should consider attending the Committee of 100's Political Training InstituteCLICK HERE for more information. 

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree . . .

Looking for a new, fun way for your school, your PTA, or your school organizations to celebrate the holiday season?  Consider being a part of the Tinsel Trail!  This brand-new project will bring a display of live Christmas trees to downtown Christmas treeHuntsville for one month, beginning December 3, 2011.  Nearly 200 trees will decorate the center of Big Spring Park East for the holiday season.  Intended to attract visitors to the downtown area, each tree will be sponsored by a local school, group, company, or family, and will be decorated by its sponsor. Get creative! Your tree can have a theme that matches your school's colors or mascot, a traditional motiff, or you can choose to be totally off-the-wall!  Each tree will have a sign with the sponsor and decorators' names.  Security will be provided at night to protect the displays.


The Tinsel Trail is a project of The Downtown 47, a nonprofit charitable organization whose mission is to encourage, support, and promote the ongoing cultural, aesthetic, social and economic vitality of the downtown area of Huntsville, Alabama. Sponsorship of a tree costs $250, and all tree sponsorships are 100% tax deductible.


This would be a fun project for your students to enjoy together.  They could collect the funds to sponsor a tree and then plan how their tree will look!  There will be several decorating nights the week of November 28 so groups can come down, enjoy holiday music and hot chocolate, and decorate their trees.  Groups must provide their own decorations.  This is a great way to support our community while making the holidays festive at the same time!


For more information, CLICK HERE to download a project flyer.

National PTA Dues Increase

50 cents

After 10 years of rising costs absorbed by National PTA, delegates to the 115th National PTA Convention approved a 50-cent dues increase, raising the national dues to $2.25.   In addition, local units must pay Alabama PTA dues of $1.00, making the total dues payment for National and Alabama PTA dues of $3.25 per member.   This change is effective immediately.  Therefore, please remember to remit the increased dues amount when making dues payments to the Alabama PTA this year. 

Got Caps?

bottle caps 
Want to help the environment while helping your school at the same time?  Huntsville's Operation Green Team is sponsoring a contest for the school that collects the most plastic twist caps between October 1 - March 31.  The winning school will collect $1,000!  For more details about this contest, see the attached flyer.   

Town Hall Meeting

Councilman Bill Kling, District Four representative on the Huntsville City Council, invites you to participate in his monthly Town Hall meetings.  These meetings are held on the third Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Huntsville Public Library.  You are invited to come and let your voice be heard on the issues of importance to you.

More Pictures from Reception with Dr. Wardynski




Thank you for the privilege of serving you through the Huntsville Council of PTAs!  Together we can achieve "every child . . . one voice." 
Melissa's Signature~1
Melissa C. Thompson
President, Huntsville Council of PTAs