Note from PTA President Hillary Shaw

zax1_webYesterday, I had the pleasure of reading The Zax by Dr. Seuss to some kindergartners who are eager to start their first year of school at Fairmount Park Elementary. As you may recall from the short story, a North-Going Zax and a South-Going Zax reach an impasse, neither willing to budge in the least. Ultimately, progress is made around the Zaxes as they remain stalemated.

School is closed until further notice. In this situation, if the Seattle Education Association (SEA) and Seattle Public Schools (SPS) are the Zaxes, the Fairmount Park Elementary PTA is an avenue for facilitating progress for our students until the contract negotiations are finalized. Out of respect for our diverse school community and membership, and in accordance with current Washington State PTA Resolutions (specifically, 18.6), it is important that our PTA — as an organization — presents both sides of the collective bargaining process neutrally and factually and does not spend PTA funds to support the strike, because:

“… the Washington State PTA will not support work stoppages and/or strikes which interrupt or disrupt the educational day.”

“…the Washington State PTA believes that a disruption to the educational system in the form of work stoppages and/or strikes is often detrimental to the best interest of the children and families affected by those actions. While acknowledging that more state resources must be committed to the educational process in the State of Washington, including higher salaries for educational employees.”*

So what can our vibrant and resourceful school community do to help and support all students of Fairmount Park Elementary during this teachers’ strike, ensuring the progress around them is positive and productive? The PTA has the communication tools to keep our community of students, families, and teaching professionals intact and thriving, so let’s leverage those resources to keep in touch. Here are a few suggestions for how you can be proactive during this time away from school:

  • Take a lunch break TODAY AT NOON and quilt the field at Fairmount Park with picnic blankets. Bring food and games to share.
  • Check and regularly for updates.
  • Organize a study group, a play date, a book club, or a special project for students.
  • Provide childcare for families who have inflexible working schedules.
  • Share relevant and age-appropriate reading suggestions for coping with this transition.
  • Submit your student’s information for the Student Directory — the more information we have, the easier it is to connect with one another.
  • Join the PTA. Join the PTA. One more time! Join the PTA.

What are your ideas for staying connected and supporting one another before school resumes, and how can you make those ideas a reality? The Falcon Flyer will be distributed each Thursday for the duration of the strike, so please email [email protected] if you want to spread the word about a planned event or to seek support for an idea. You are encouraged to contact PTA board members at any time — all of our email addresses are listed in the welcome letter — so one of us can plug you into an appropriate committee.

While I’m certain the Zaxes would not have been at an impasse in the first place if they had attended elementary school with Ms. Breidenbach, Mrs. Pendergrass, and all of the incredibly talented teaching professionals and support team members who engage our students in social emotional learning and Positive Discipline, I am confident an agreement will be reached between SEA and SPS soon (a relative term), and we will be relishing the energy of a rich learning environment and a new school year. While we wait for that day, let’s continue communicating and strengthening our new school community, Falcons!



*Washington State PTA Resolutions are voted upon annually at either the WSPTA Legislative Assembly or at WSPTA Convention. If you would like to propose a change to the Resolutions, and are a PTA member, you can contact [email protected] and please CC [email protected]

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Our PTA is a wee fledgling falcon…

FPEPTAfalcon_DirectDriveHeart_2014_Sept18Our PTA is a wee fledgling falcon. Like tending to an infant, there was much unbridled enthusiasm, frantic energy, intense research and collaboration — as well as some sleepless nights — invested in hatching this new nonprofit business and in nurturing into a functioning entity. There is still work to be done, but I am happy to report the Fairmount Park Elementary PTA is learning how to fly.

Six months ago our PTA did not exist, and diligent parent volunteers, teachers, and community members mobilized to create a PTA. Less than five months ago, our PTA was chartered as an affiliate of the Washington State PTA. Less than two months ago, Fairmount Park Elementary was granted 501(c)(3) exemption by the IRS. Our Annual Give Campaign, which kicked off two weeks ago, has already raised over $10,000. On Monday, we will have our first general membership meeting in the school!

Please come to the first general membership meeting of the school year!  The schedule for the evening is as follows:

Monday, September 22 in the lunchroom at Fairmount Park Elementary
6:00-6:15 PM
  • Child Care Drop-off
    (Please note: Child care is provided courtesy of the PTA by The YMCA. There is staff available to supervise only 30 children who are in grades K-5, so if you have a friend or family member who can watch your child/ren, please schedule accordingly. Child care is first come, first serve.)

  • Donations and Memberships Accepted

  • Take Seats

6:15-7:15 PM
  • General Membership Business Meeting

7:15-8:15 PM

In addition to approving a budget for the remaining school year, executive committee officers will be elected. Some chuckle when I emphasize that I am the interim president, but the steering committee members unanimously insisted on appointing interim executive officers and preparing an interim budget for very serious reasons: efficiency, equity of process, inclusion of all interested community members, and discovering, valuing, and utilizing the skills and interests of volunteers — principles and values that guide our school and extend to our PTA (hopefully they also trickle through to our children!).

Kudos to the nominating committee members — Ann Limbaugh, Michael Griesedieck, Christine Deppe, and Tami Aidlin — for working many hours through the summer to evaluate and interview nominees. They presented the following recommended slate of officers in last week’s Falcon Flyer:

  • President: Hillary Shaw

  • First Vice President: Jasmine Aryana

  • Second Vice President: Jennifer Chynoweth

  • Secretary: Lisha Jacoy

  • Treasurer: Renee Hopkins

This slate will be presented at the meeting on Monday, and there will be an opportunity to nominate from the floor. While Jasmine, Renee, and I hope to continue on in our roles, Faith Iverson and Christine Deppe will be volunteering for Fairmount Park Elementary in other ways for the duration of the school year. We would not have our well-written, relevant, and flexible standing rules, nor our thorough meeting minutes and notes if not for Faith, and Christine — in addition to acting as interim vice president — served on the nominating committee, assisted with teacher interviews, was a member of the planning task force, and graciously offered her business space at The Office Junction for PTA meetings and fundraising events before we had a space to meet. Please thank Faith and Christine when you see them!

The outpouring of volunteer time, resources, energy, and knowledge continues to astound me. At the meeting on Monday, we will hear reports from volunteers who have, among other things: procured funding for and launched walking school busses, donated a space for a school auction and organized to plan a memorable and profitable event in February, planned play dates and special events and fundraisers, coordinated volunteers for moving day, recess and lunch assistance, and so much more…please come listen, as there is a lot to be excited about!

As much as our school community has accomplished in a short period of time, there is still much work to be done, and many opportunities for you to help the PTA and the school soar for years into the future. Please visit to sign up for volunteer opportunities, please share your ideas and passions within PTA committees, and if you have not already contributed to the Annual Giving Campaign, I encourage you to visit and help to fill the heart of the falcon.

See you Monday!

Hillary Shaw

Interim President, Fairmount Park Elementary PTA
[email protected] |

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