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Northridge Elementary PTA earns high honors for excellence

By Ashtyn Asay - | Sep 7, 2022
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Members of the Northridge Elementary PTA Executive Board pose for a photo. From left to right, Laura Eliason, Michaelene Munro, Rabilin Snow, President Emeritus Kim Plank, Janelle Mock Linda Pontius, Jessica Douglas.
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In this undated photo, Paige Redford, a fourth-grader at Northridge, displays her clay dragon eye sculpture made using art supplies provided through PTA funding and the fourth-grade teacher team art lesson plan.

It’s like clockwork — at least it has been for the last seven years.

The Northridge Elementary School Parent Teacher Association has been designated a National PTA School of Excellence every year since 2015.

In order to become a National PTA School of Excellence, a school has to exhibit a commitment to building an inclusive and welcoming school community and identify and implement a school improvement action plan.

“It’s really about finding what it is that the school and the community would like us to work on, and finding a way to improve in that area,” said Michaelene Munro, president of the Northridge PTA.

When Northridge Elementary was no longer able to accommodate full-time art and music teachers during the 2020-2021 school year, the PTA developed an action plan centered on the arts.

“The core teachers were also asked to teach those subjects,” said Laura Eliason, Vice President of leadership for the Northridge PTA. “A lot of parents, students and teachers at the school were kind of mourning that loss, that was a pretty hard adjustment.”

The PTA began selling soda to students and parents each Friday to raise money to buy art supplies, which were then given to teachers. According to Eliason, she was shocked when she realized just how expensive it was to buy art supplies for an entire class.

“I was, like, blown away when I started looking at watercolor paper or markers even because you think ‘oh it can’t be that much,’ but when you’re talking about classrooms, they don’t need just 10 sets of markers they need 30 sets of markers,” she said. “There wasn’t a budget for teachers to purchase those, and many would often buy that with their own money.”

Through this fundraising, the PTA was able to cover the cost of many art projects, both in individual classrooms and grade-wide. The first grade was able to make bugs to coincide with a lesson on insects, children were able to make binary code-themed bracelets in computer class and fourth-grade students sculpted “dragon eyes” out of clay during a lesson on the eye.

Janelle Mock, a Northridge Elementary parent with a background in ceramics, was able to share her talents with the fourth-graders during their sculpting project.

“Seeing the children use their scientific knowledge and their creative abilities to develop what a dragon eye might look like was so much fun,” she said. “Being able to offer suggestions to the children on different techniques and be able to encourage them in their creativity was rewarding. Working with the 4th-grade team and their classes was a great experience.”

According to Eliason, the PTA’s efforts helped foster a real love for the arts at Northridge and created the momentum for real change. This year, through the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program, Northridge has a designated arts instructor.

“Through our principal’s hard work and seeing that our school community really wanted arts back in the school, every grade can go to art class,” she said. “We have an art teacher at our school this year, which is really exciting.”

For Kim Plank, principal of Northridge Elementary, getting word that the school had been named a School of Excellence yet again was certainly no shock.

“It’s no surprise that the Northridge PTA has won this award again. My first impression is that they are constantly asking ‘what can we do to give students something they otherwise wouldn’t have, and how can we support teachers?'” She said. “They are also the first to set up in acts of service. We had some vandalism issues this summer, and they not only wanted to help financially, but also with any labor we needed.”

As the 2022-2023 school year gets underway, Munro is looking forward to continuing the Northridge PTA’s legacy of excellence and making a lasting impact.

“This started before me with a bunch of wonderful past PTA presidents,” she said. “We’ve done so many great things, and I’m excited to continue moving it forward.”


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