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Major honors for Northrop PTSA

Group gets national award for connecting parents, school.

Saturday, June 29, 2013 - 7:01 am

Kathie Green wears her orange-and-brown Northrop High School polo proudly.

She's not a member of the faculty or staff, but in Principal Barb Ahlersmeyer's book, she's part of the Northrop family.

Green is the co-president of the Parent Teacher Student Association, which strives to bring together the school and parents of its 2,200 students in a positive manner. For two years in a row, 100 percent of Northrop faculty joined the PTSA, which now has 645 members, making it number one for PTA membership in Indiana.

The organization was honored June 22 by the national PTA with a number of awards, including a distinction as the inaugural National PTA School of Excellence. The presentations took place during the National PTA convention in Cincinnati.

“I just can't ask for more,” Green said. “Northrop is a very special school. They've woven us into the fabric.”

At the national convention, Northrop PTSA also earned the 2013 Phoebe Apperson Hearst Outstanding Family-School Partnership Award, which recognizes and celebrates the effective building of family-school partnerships.

“When they notified us in March, I was hoping to say something totally profound, but all I could say was, 'Oh, my God, oh, my God,'” Green said.

The awards recognize Northrop's following of national PTA standards, including effective communication, community collaboration, family empowerment and student support.

En route to a Hawaiian vacation, Principal Ahlersmeyer surprised the PTSA with her appearance at the National PTA Convention in Cincinnati.

“There's nothing about this that is magical,” Ahlersmeyer said. “It's just that we're both open to doing what's best for our kids.”

The dynamic co-leadership of Green and fellow co-president Theresa Distelrath, backed by many supporters and volunteers, has helped make the PTSA what it is, Ahlersmeyer noted.

Increasing communication has been a key role of the association. The PTSA sends out a newsletter that comes out every other month. The organization also sends out a weekly email to keep members of the school community connected, including parents.

“I believe if you bring parents into the school in a positive matter, and that's a challenge, it helps build a community and helps make students better at school, (and) increases achievement, grades and test scores,” Green said.

Ahlersmeyer said teachers, too, have increased their parent communication as a result of PTSA involvement.

“As children reach adolescence, sometimes they tend to push away or go out on their own,” she said. “We push our staff to communicate with parents. The parent is such a primary resource for changing behavior. But they also want to know when their child does something well.”

And while Northrop PTSA achieved high success this year at the national convention, Green said there's no reason she and her colleagues can't strive for the distinction again next year.

She wants to continue to grow two successful programs — College and Career Night and the Teen Safe Driving Program. She also wants to increase membership. But mostly, she wants to ensure the relationships between students, parents and faculty continue to strengthen, with PTSA acting as liaison to help that happen.

“That's why we're successful,” she said, “because people believe in what we're doing.”