Dear Valley Forge Middle School Families,
As the incoming PTO President, I extend the warmest of welcomes to you as we enter the 2020-21 school year! This year has already proven to be strange and unique, a year like we’ve never before experienced and one filled with both challenges – and dare I say-opportunities. In Before Times (TM), I would be meeting many of you in person during one of our usual start-of-school socials, in the carpool lane, or even at the Trader Joe’s. As we navigate the realities of this moment, I hope my letter will prove adequate as both a welcome and introduction. My greater hope is that at some point in the not-too-distant future, we will find the opportunity to meet face-to-face.
My husband Johannes and I are the proud parents of two kids in the school district. Anouk is a rising 8th grader at VFMS and Felix is a rising 4th grader at VFES. Most of my volunteer time as a parent has been spent at the library at VFES. I have loved that work and am truly going to miss it this year!
On a more personal note, I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and it took me leaving Ohio and living in the South (North Carolina) and moving to the Mid-Atlantic to realize that I am most definitely a Midwestern gal. My husband is from a small rural town outside of Berlin, Germany, and we have lived in the T/E school district since 2015. He is a computational biologist by training, currently a Scientific Director at GSK, working predominantly in dermatology and oncology. My own background is in history and law, but I’ve spent most of my career in documentary filmmaking. The bulk of my projects are social-issue docs (domestic violence, voting rights, racial justice), and I’ve worked for many years on a hybrid cooking/travel/documentary food show for public television.
Like many families, we specifically sought out the Mainline for its schools. Everybody we met raved about Conestoga. And here we are! We’ve been blown away by how this community shows up for each other. It is a tight-knit, generous, big-hearted community that also happens to be much more diverse than our reputation would suggest. We feel incredibly grateful and blessed to be a part of it, and I personally feel lucky to be able to serve our community through this new role.
As both a member of the board and a parent, I am looking forward to supporting our teachers in all the ways we typically do, as well as in all the new ways they will need given the current challenges.
For example, VFMS is proud to participate in a new initiative whose goal is to rally around our teachers. You can purchase yard signs through this link https:// tuttlemarketing.com/store/products/tredyffrin-easttown-teacher-yard-signs–1556 which can also be found on our PTO website. Not only is it a great way to start off the year on a positive note and support our teachers, but it will also help fund plans for this year. We announced the sale yesterday and we have already sold 60 signs! The sale will run until Monday, September 14, and if you choose to purchase, please be sure to choose VFMS PTO so that your signs are delivered to the correct liaison. Pick up information forthcoming.
Thank you to Amy Terlecki and Aimee Poduri, members of the NEES PTO, for starting this initiative and for including VFMS families. Amy is also our VP of Cultural Arts along with Megan Edwards, a long time volunteer with the NEES Cultural Arts Committee. I also want to welcome and introduce our new board members, including Heather McConnell, our new VP of Fundraising, who many of you may know from her tenure as President of the VFES PTO, Judy Reiter, VP of Communications who brings a wealth of experience as current VP of Communications at NEES, and Michelle Iwachiw our new Assistant Treasurer, who has co-chaired committees at both VFES and VFMS.
I am grateful for the veteran PTO members on our board, including outgoing PTO President Tereza Keohane, who I am happy to report is staying on as Head of Golden Apple Grants, our Treasurer Danyll Lockett, Stephanie Crill our Directory Admin, VP of Fundraising Versha Shah, VP of Social Chrystele Baden, VP of Communications Dr. Tracy Simpson, & the amazing woman who is in charge of our weekly email blasts, Jackie Thomaszewski. As you can see, we’ve got a great board who come with not only a wealth of experience, but enthusiasm and love for our school community.
I want to end by presenting our goals for this year, which include:
- Brainstorming and providing our community with creative, interesting, and robust arts programming, both virtual or even socially-distant when feasible.
- Ensuring that our most vulnerable community members receive the support they need, whether it is through direct mutual food aid or through addressing any existing digital divide. These are initiatives we can address on our own and in community with FLITE.
- Supporting mental health and wellness initiatives to meet this unprecedented moment, in partnership with our school and ARCH.
- Playing both a supportive and lead role in anti-racist and social justice education for our community. This includes inclusion around ability. One of the personal lessons I’ve learned this year has been around this issue and the necessity to create a learning environment that is truly inclusive in the broadest sense of the word.
Thank you all for time, attention, and support. Welcome! Let’s make it a great year!