It’s back-to-school this week for students, teachers and school officials … and parents, too.
Parent-teacher organizations and associations abound at Mountlake Terrace and Brier schools; the PTO at Cedar Way Elementary School is quickly becoming a standout in the Edmonds School District for its effectiveness and community involvement, inside its own school hallways and beyond.
Over the past few years the Cedar Way Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization, in addition to conducting its monthly meetings and school functions, has raised tens of thousands of dollars, then turning those funds into playground, field and grounds improvements at the school. The PTO has also raised money for its fellow district schools in the immediate area through the fun run it held during Tour de Terrace this past summer.
Cedar Way Principal Hawkins Cramer can’t say enough about the PTO; “I love that we have a shared vision here at Cedar Way. It’s a great organization that builds a community, not just a school,” he said.
The Cedar Way PTO is hundreds of parents working together for the benefit of all students at the school, not just their own, and also thinking about how to build up the community outside the school walls, Cramer said.
Sometimes parent groups get a little too tight-knit, Cramer explained, to grow into something that can make a big impact. “Sometimes you have a small group, well-intended, but insular, making it difficult for others to break in and use their skills in,” Cramer said. “You’ve got to have leadership that can change that thinking, that culture, in order to get people to work together.”
The 11-year principal at Cedar Way points to the current PTO leadership as having the energy and commitment to do just that. He says the PTO is doing great things at the school, and impacting the area also. “I’ve been in Mountlake Terrace a long time, and I’m just sensing a change,” Cramer said. “People are coming together.”
The Cedar Way PTO continues to work, plan and dream on how to make the school better for its students and the community. Following up on recent physical improvements on site, the PTO and school leadership hopes to extend a walking path to other areas of the school grounds and to add some raised gardens to teach and model urban gardening. There are even thoughts of adding preschool programs to Cedar Way Elementary sometime in the future.
All classes in the Edmonds School District begin Wednesday, Sept. 5.