Wednesday, June 2, 2010


The Matron was once an enthusiastic and reliable school volunteer. Well, enthusiastic might be an overstatement, but reliable? Certainly.

Then the recession hit. Being married to a realtor and all, she suddenly required gainful employment, which she secured. As she established her career, she disengaged from the school volunteer circuit to focus on keeping the family finances afloat.

But now things are better. The Matron, it turns out, is a very fine employee. She even likes her job! A lot. Really, really a lot and maybe she should have been working sooner . . . which is another story.

So after two years of not volunteering at the elementary school (aside from tiny adorable classroom activities), the Matron realized she was ready for a larger role. Then the call went out: the tried and true President of the Parent Teacher Association (PTO) -- a parent non-profit organization that raises over $30,000 a year for the school -- was quitting.

Emergency News Bulletin: Inner-city school in desperate need of highly efficient organizer and fundraiser, someone who can diplomatically deal with both the sane and dysfunctional.

The Matron signed up. The PTO 'election' is Monday, but mostly people are bowing at her feet in gratitude.

And now she knows why.

She was all groovy with the decision to lead until she learned that two mothers heavily involved were recently hospitalized for mental health issues, which they claimed to stem from the PTO itself. This gave her pause. Next, she learned that an altercation between two mothers (different ones) nearly came to blows a couple of weeks ago.

There's one set of parents not talking to the other and some considering litigation. Hurt feelings and, well -- did she mention dysfunction?

Cookie and wrapping paper wars are in her future.

And here she thought teaching at a community college was dramatic.


smalltownme said...

I can't wait to hear all the dirt on the PTO. Good luck, Matron.

Suburban Correspondent said...

But just think of the blogging material!

Jen on the Edge said...

Oh my, this could be a very interesting year...

I was the president of my children's preschool for two years. By the beginning of my second year, I was pretty much greeting each and every complaint, gripe, kvetch, etc. by saying, "Well, if you don't like this, you can stand in line to kiss my fat white ass." That worked really well until my then-four year old used the same line on her father one night when he told her to go to bed.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

Suburban Correspondent and I had the exact same thought.

You've already got a post out of it and have yet to attend your first meeting.

Also . . . OMG! You became a Buddhist in the nick of time!

the other Mary's Tom said...

Oh Mary - You know our young one goes to that (looking good from the outside) school. Please hold it together for us for one more year!

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

You are a saint. I don't even attend PTO meetings anymore. Apparently I deal with stress by imitating an ostrich.
And yes, blog fodder!!

*m* said...

You are a brave, brave soul.

Laura said...

When I quit my job a couple of years ago, I thought that I should do something with my extra time, so I volunteered for not one, but two PTO's. For one, I just ended up on the dance committee, which was fun. I got to help decorate and plan the 8th grade dance. It was like being back in high school (the good part).

The elementary PTO wasn't as much fun. It wasn't horrible, but the women who came to meetings all knew each other from years of serving on the PTO. I felt like an outsider and they never really made an effort to make me feel like part of the group. So I quit going to meetings. I still did some volunteer work, but in a very limited way.

Good luck to you. I look forward to hearing the stories!

Minnesota Matron said...

Blogging material, indeed. Maybe even a novel!

FlourGirl said...

Definitely novel material. For some reason, folks get really territorial in PTO-like organizations. And church councils/committees.

Ask for an RX for! ;)

Wenderina said...

I remember going to my first condo association meeting expecting neighborly discussions and reasonable behavior.

My first meeting was my last. I preferred to mumble at home about decisions being made than go down the rabbit hole and find myself losing my mind like every other person in that room did.

Best of luck - at the very least it should make for interesting blog fodder.

Anonymous said...

I recently did a similar thing myself; kind of a "fools rush in, etc." move. I thought it would be interesting. But I didn't know exactly HOW interesting.

But you will get lots of blogging material. (Me, not so much because it all involves public officials and institutions and legal stuff.)

Jil said...

I was the treasurer of our PTA for two years. Being an accountant, doing the work was the easy part but dealing with the personalities is another thing. I came to realize that you need to view it as a job; get the work done, keep out of the drama and delegate well. In theory, the president should only have to run the meetings and find other volunteers to run the various other jobs. Good luck!

MJ said...

I volunteered once to run a fundraising campaign for the elementary school playground structure. It will be my last fundraising campaign for the elementary school.

Good luck in your presidency! I don't have the diplomatic skills to hang out with that set!