Holy Family PTA gets ready to boost school community

LAKEWOOD — If you don’t happen to have a village, the next best way to raise a child might be through your place of worship. That is the reasoning behind a plan by new principal Sister Carolyn Houck to form a PTA for the first time at the 27-year-old elementary school run by Holy Family Church. Located adjacent to the church on County Line Road, the school has an enrollment of more than 700 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

"We want it to be a chance for parents to interact with each other, to share and work out common problems," Houck told the Tri-Town News. "Some parents tend to be isolated and the PTA will give them a chance to share each other’s concerns and value systems. Parents with a stronger grasp of parenting skills can help new parents."

According to Houck, teachers will also be part of the organization in a way that will make them more accessible to parents, both as educators and as friends.

"Teachers will be able to meet with parents on a different level than just chatting over a report card," Houck said. "It’s a chance to build mutual trust."

In an effort to implement that ambitious agenda, the PTA kicked off its first meeting on Nov. 14 in the school gymnasium following the induction of its board members at a ceremony that was held on Sept. 5, according to information provided in a press release from the school.

The release said more than 150 parents, teachers and administrators attended the first meeting, which was called to order by PTA President George Schmalz of Howell and then blessed by the Rev. Michael Lang, pastor of St. Mary of the Lake parish community, with which Holy Family Church and School are affiliated.

The guest speaker was Sister Dorothy Payne, assistant associate superintendent of elementary education for Mercer and Monmouth counties, as well as moderator of the Diocese of Trenton PTA. The press release said Payne spoke about the importance of parental involvement with the PTA in fostering academic excellence.

But academic excellence is not the only reason that Houck said the PTA will be a boon to the school as well as to parents.

"It’s a wonderful marketing tool," she said. "You can put out 1,000 brochures, but there’s nothing like a satisfied parent to put out the good word. It’s good public relations to do this, too."

The next PTA meeting will be held on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. in the school gymnasium. For further information call the school at (732) 363-4771.

— Joyce Blay