Connecting and Collaborating
Parent Groups Build Relationships and Promote Ravenscroft’s Excellence
By Janice Lewine | Back to Table of Contents
A successful school community depends on quality instruction, an engaging curriculum, a supportive learning environment and active parent involvement. For 40 years, Ravenscroft’s parent-led groups have helped the school reach its goals and celebrate its victories through effective community building, philanthropy and volunteer engagement.
These contributions are especially valuable today. Throughout the challenging months of 2020, these groups — the Parents’ Association, Fine Arts Association, Ravens Athletic Club, Parents Supporting Diversity and Inclusion, and Global Parent Ambassadors — have been working hard to help students, parents and faculty feel connected and meet their goals.
“Every parent, simply by having a child enrolled at Ravenscroft, is already a member of each of these groups. They’re so successful at building community and broadening community precisely because all parents can participate,” said Tammy Haywood, who serves in the staff role of Parent Group Manager. “These groups strive to build relationships across the grade levels and provide a great way for parents with similar interests to meet. You can get involved because your child is involved in an area they support or because it is your interest.”
In the stories below, we explore each of these critical organizations’ mission, history and accomplishments through the eyes of the many committed parents who’ve shared their time and talent with the school over the years.
The 2017-18 PA executive committee celebrates the end of another successful year.
Parents’ Association: Enhancing the School’s Distinction
The Parents’ Association has pursued its mission since the early 1980s, when parents banded together to bring increased volunteerism, philanthropy and community spirit to the school. Today, the PA delivers by creating opportunities for parents, students, faculty and staff to have fun and engage with one another, forging meaningful connections through shared interests and values.
Co-presidents Kathy Pretzer and Jen Wickline say they’ve had to get creative in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. As visitors and volunteers are not currently permitted on campus, the group hosts monthly virtual meetings, with Pretzer and Wickline warming up the audience with lighthearted video parodies. “That format has been working really well,” Wickline said. “We wanted levity, so we’re bringing fun as well as information to help people feel connected to the school. We’re showcasing the different things that are going on at Ravenscroft and showing gratitude to everyone on campus.”
2020-21 PA co-presidents Jen Wickline and Kathy Pretzer share a parody of “Wayne’s World” to kick off the October virtual meeting.
Events they’ve planned for this year include a virtual Scholastic Signature Book Fair in early December, faculty and staff appreciation lunches, and an online auction in late January. They also created an Instagram account as another way to connect with Ravenscroft families. “It’s a fun place for us to promote upcoming events and other things that are going on around campus,” Pretzer said.
Alumni parent and current grandparent Barbara Helton helped found the group, originally known as the Parents’ Council, in the early 1980s and served as president in 1984. “I was involved with the Parents’ Council from the very beginning,” she said. “The school wanted more parent involvement, so we decided to hold a gala” where everyone could enjoy themselves while supporting the school. Fostering parent engagement with the school was to remain a hallmark of the group’s efforts. In the 1990s, former Council president Susan Burnette said, events included a fall festival and a student/parent trip to Busch Gardens.
In 1997, the group renamed itself the Parents’ Association. Janet Qubain, who served as president in 2006, recalls how dedicated parents organized faculty and staff luncheons, hosted a vendor market and produced award-winning cookbooks featuring recipes from the Ravenscroft community. The PA also helped families going through a significant life event by preparing meals and carpooling. “That was very heartfelt for the people involved and a positive thing that came out of the Parents’ Association,” she said.
Among the PA’s many projects over the years was the 2008 award-winning cookbook, “Excellent Courses: A Culinary Legacy of Ravenscroft.”
Since then, the PA’s steering committee has grown with the school, currently boasting 94 members and an executive committee of eight. Continuing the group’s critical work in building community and organizing parent volunteers, in recent years the PA has hosted family events including Fall Round-Up, RWorld, Trunk-or-Treat and movie nights. Members also support teachers by volunteering as room parents and grade-level representatives. The PA has continued to raise money to support the institution, recently providing $75K in funding in support of the school’s hybrid-learning model. The PA is also partnering with the school to provide lunches for faculty and staff, many of whom supervise students at mealtime in accordance with COVID-mitigation protocols.
This culture of volunteerism has been central to the Ravenscroft community since its early days. As Pretzer noted, “When everybody buys in, it raises the level of quality and creates amazing relationships along the way.”
The PA is known for putting on family-friendly events, including Fall Round-up (shown in 2014) and RWorld (2019).
Above, attendees of the PA’s 2020 Gala and Live Auction enjoy an elegant and fun celebration of the Ravenscroft community.
Want to get involved with a parent group? Check the school’s master calendar for Zoom meeting dates and links, and read the dedicated “Parent Involvement” section of the Ravenscroft Weekly for information and updates.
Faculty and staff discuss the impact of parent groups on our school and community.
Ravenscroft Magazine, Summer 2019
Gifts of Time and Talent: 40 years of parent groups at Ravenscroft
1981: Parents’ Council is formed to harness the power of parent volunteers
1984: Parents’ Council begins fundraising, soon planning the first Ravenscroft gala
1993: Fine Arts Center opens; Fine Arts Guild is created to facilitate parent involvement in fine arts
1996: FAA helps teachers create the Visiting Artist Portfolio Series
1997: Parents’ Council is renamed Parents’ Association
1997: Fine Arts Guild hosts its first Madrigal Dinner
2003: Ravens Athletic Club is created to support athletics and foster school spirit
2010: Fine Arts Guild is renamed Fine Arts Association
2012: Parents Supporting Diversity and Inclusion Committee is created to spearhead collaborative efforts around DE&I
2016: Global Parent Ambassadors is created to welcome and support international families
2016: GPA begins assisting faculty and staff with the Cultural Festival
2020: Parent groups face challenges of COVID-19 pandemic and campus restrictions with creativity and determination, moving to online meetings and organizing volunteer efforts off campus to support students, faculty and staff, and families