HISD’s 2024 Parent Organization Expo took place on Saturday, Feb. 10, at Lamar High School, outgrowing last year’s venue thanks to increased interest from enthusiastic HISD families eager to learn and engage with their children’s schools.
Attendees were greeted by Atherton Elementary and Lyons Elementary cheerleaders and guided by volunteers to Lamar’s Ground Hall where they were welcomed by HISD’s Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Department and Superintendent Mike Miles.
“The PTO Expo is an effort for us to connect with our most engaged parents and help give them the best practices, the support, and the encouragement that they need to best support our campuses,” said Najah Callander, Senior Executive Director of External Engagement with FACE. “This year, we’re excited because the event is about twice as big as it was last year, and it’s been great to be in a new venue and engage not just parents but to get kids involved and help the kids see that there are all of these adults who care about their success. We’re trying to help everybody feel more connected and more empowered to be the best version of a parent that they can be for their kids.”
Boxed breakfasts in hand, attendees were broken up into groups and sent to their first of five informative lectures led by various parent organization experts including school principals, FACE specialists, Scholastic, software company POSSIP, and more.
The lecture subjects included advice on fundraising and financial best practices, ways to build relationships with your child’s school, and how to organize successful events. Lecturers also discussed the importance of advocating for your child and further engaging with their campus life.
“The Expo is very helpful for a lot of our HISD schools that have PTO programs. It guides groups through fundraising ideas and how to bring in families to events,” said Oneida Cruz, a Berry Elementary parent.
The priority of the Parent Organization Expo is to build relationships between parents and schools to help promote a welcoming environment that honors families and contributes to academic success. Callander knows that not all parents have the time and resources to contribute to a parent organization in the traditional sense, but stresses that every parent who engages with their child’s education makes a difference.
“You can always contribute by being an advocate for your child,” Callander said. “Understanding the power of your advocacy as a parent is important, and it doesn’t always look like involvement in the PTO.”
FACE provides family workshops and parent resources and manages HISD’s parent call center, offering assistance to parents and families year-round. For more information about the resources that FACE provides, visit their website.