April 21, 2017 
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  Message from Gracemarie Rozea, NYS PTA President  

When someone says 'hand in hand', what do you think of? Spaghetti and Meatballs? Peanut Butter and Jelly? Salt and Pepper? Milk and Cookies? So many words have other words associated with them.

But what about PTA? When I relate the expression 'hand in hand' to PTA, Advocacy and Membership are the first pair of words that come to mind.

Click here to read more.

  New Excelsior Scholarship Available to Students and Families  

Kyle McCauley Belokopitsky, Esq., Executive Director

As a part of the enacted State Budget, the NYS Excelsior Scholarship will be available to college students attending the state's public colleges (SUNY/CUNY) for the Fall 2017 semester and beyond.

The Higher Education Service Corporation just released frequently asked questions, which can be viewed here.

Generally, New York families making up to $100,000 annually in the fall of 2017 will be eligible for this scholarship for their children. The income limits increase to $110,000 in 2018, and reach $125,000 in 2019.

College affordability and accessibility continues to be a NYS PTA priority and we will keep you informed of new developments with this scholarship program.

  PARP - This Year & Next  

Stephanie Avidon, PARP Specialist

Pick A Reading Partner, or PARP, is a program that asks parents to read with their children for at least 15 minutes daily. A parent can be any adult who plays an important role in a child's life.

Your PTA creates the program, for as long or as short as you want, to fit into any size budget.

Need suggestions to encourage the love of reading and reading together? Check out the PARP Toolkit here.

If your unit hosted a PARP program this year, consider entering it for a PARP Award. The 2017 application and deadline info are available here

New this year! The state PARP winner will receive registration and hotel accommodations for two to attend the 121st NYS PTA Annual Convention in Niagara Falls, and will be recognized during one of the General Sessions.

Start planning now for September. As you plan your unit's new budget, make sure you include a PARP program. Now is the time to start figuring out what you want to do, whether it's an author visit, a special kick-off or closing assembly, give-away items for all the children or the winning class. Remember, you create your own PARP program based on what works for you and your school. There are no set dates, themes or requirements.

Any questions, contact your Region PARP Chair or email me at parp@nyspta.org.

  April Advocacy Newsbriefs  

Step up your advocacy! State budget review, region advocacy events and more in April's Advocacy Newsbriefs.

Click here to read.

  National PTA Board of Directors Passes New Position Statements  

Lana Ajemian, Federal Legislation Chair

The National PTA Board of Directors recently passed or updated four position statements. Position Statements are official documents outlining the opinion, will or intent of the association to address national problems, situations or concerns that affect children and youth, and require national action to resolve.

Early Identification and Interventions for Children with Mental Health Needs

(Updated) Environmental Health, Remediation, Sustainability and Climate Change

Recommendations Regarding Prescription Opiate Abuse Awareness and Preventions

Trauma-Informed Care

National PTA has adopted hundreds of position statements on a wide variety of national education, health and safety issues since its first convention in 1897. Find out more here.

  State Education Department Releases Guidance on Rights of Immigrant Students and Dignity for All Students Act in 20 Languages  

Kyle McCauley Belokopitsky, Esq., Executive Director

New York has proudly been the gateway to the Americas and continues to stand tall in support of ALL students.

"When we stand together, we ensure that our students feel safe and supported in their school environments," Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. "We must reaffirm our commitment to providing educational sanctuaries, where students are free to learn regardless of their race, ethnicity, language spoken at home, immigration status, sexual orientation or any other basis. We must embrace all children as our own, with warmth and compassion."

Find the new resources here.

  About PTA Founder Alice McLellan Birney  

Susan Berkow, Historian

We know who the PTA founders are, right? Alice McLellan Birney, Phoebe Apperson Hearst and Selena Sloane Butler. But how much do we really know about these esteemed ladies?

Thanks to the scholarship of Christine A. Woyshner (from her Ph.D. thesis), I can share a little insight into the life and beliefs of Alice McLellan Birney, whose ideas and dedication lit the spark that became PTA. Some of it may surprise you, some of it reflects current times, and some reflects the era in which Alice lived and worked.

Click here to read more.

  Region Spring Conferences - Be Part of the PTA Process Regionally  

Each unit is invited to participate in the Annual Business Meeting of their Region PTA. Be sure that your unit is represented by sending a few delegates to attend. Units should receive a 'Call to Conference' with complete conference details.

Click here for more information about your region's conference.

  What About Me?  

Joyce Cattani, Special Education Specialist

There are 2.5 million students who attend public schools in New York. Of that number, roughly 476,000 between the ages of 3-21 receive special education services.

Many things change when a family enters the strange new world of special education. They end up with a new set of responsibilities to help them manage their lives. They need to learn how to work with the special education teachers and other specialists who educate their children. Then there is the whole system of special educations laws and language that is new and frightening. Often parents can connect with other parents and offer support.

Click here to read more.

  New York's 2017 National Reading Month Winners!  

Congratulations to these PTAs who received Kindles from Amazon.com and National PTA for National Reading Month:

- Fifth Avenue Elementary School PTA
- Garden City PTA
- Miller Hill Sand Lake PTA
- Oquenock Elementary School PTA
- Spackenkill PTA

For a list of all recipients, click here.

Click here to read National PTA's press release.

  Parent Resources  

Help your kids overcome a fear of bugs with these tips from PBS Kids

3 tips for supporting students with Autism + video from Education Week

9 ways to get teens reading from Common Sense Media

  Letter from the NYS Education Department  

Dear Parents,

Since becoming Commissioner, I have traveled across New York State to meet teachers, administrators, parents, students and school board members. During these trips, I make it a priority to go see classrooms so I can observe the great things that are happening in our schools and districts across our state.

Click HERE to read more.

  Social Media  

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