By Julia Babkina
New group plans more activities
About 20 people gathered for the second meeting of the Family and Teacher Association of the Methow Valley (FTA) at the Methow Valley Elementary School on Nov. 9.
The new association seeks to foster greater connection between parents, community members and Methow Valley Elementary. FTA board President Rhyan Barnhart, who has three teachers in her family and is also a parent of two children at the elementary school said, “There’s always room for extra help. Why not have a group of people step up and have that happen?”
The meeting included a presentation by Jeri Plews, from Okanogan County Behavioral Health, who spoke about resources available to families of children with special needs.
“Often when families receive a diagnosis, they do feel alone,” said Plews.
Plews wants to connect families with special needs children to each other, as well as provide assistance with navigating the education system, including IEP and 504 assessments. Plews said she can also help families meet with school officials to tailor a plan unique to their child.
“It can be an intimidating process, but you are a huge part of the team,” Plews told the audience via Zoom.
Plews, who is based in Omak, said she would also like to start a group for siblings of children with disabilities through play learning, arts and crafts and cooking together. Another event she would like to have in the Methow Valley is a sensory sensitive event with Santa, one with reduced lights and noise level.
Looking for board members
FTA hopes to have more such speakers to connect families with school resources.
Additionally, the association wants to increase education about the curriculum at the elementary school, hold fundraisers for the school, and coordinate events for children and teens. Among the suggestions at the meeting were holding a teen night, family dance, parents’ night out, a carnival, coding night, roller skating night at the gym, a monthly movie night and a yearbook for the elementary school.
FTA is looking for volunteers to help with these events. They have formed a fundraising subcommittee and are seeking input from the public regarding additional subcommittees they would like to see on the board.
The board was elected at an Oct. 20 meeting. FTA is looking for two more community members to join their board. One seat is reserved specifically for a staff member at Methow Valley Elementary, the other is open to anyone in the community. Once these positions are filled, the board will have at least two and up to three staff members from the elementary school.
“We want to know what’s working and what’s not,” said Barnhart of the board’s decision to include elementary school staff.
The board is also seeking to increase its diversity, including more male participation. If you are interested in participating on the board, would like to volunteer for an event, or have a suggestion for the board, FTAMVE@gmail.com. The next public meeting will be on Dec. 14 at 6 p.m. in the Methow Valley Elementary School library.