Little Things Make Learning Easier

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Horseshoe-shaped tables focus the attention of young elementary students on the teacher seated in the middle.

New thesauruses help older students seek, quest, look for the perfect word.

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Local dance instructor Desert Rose leads the hula at the Parent Teacher Organization luau at Julia Randall Elementary.

They are small things, but they are details that improve the students' learning experience. And they are just two of the items the Parent Teacher Organization has purchased for Julia Randall Elementary School.

The PTO is a group of dedicated parents and teachers who have raised serious money for JRE -- $20,000 -- this year.

There are many people who make the PTO successful, from "the man who gets stuck on the ladder hanging the lights to the woman who runs the popcorn machine," said PTO president Susi Carr.

Carr was hesitant to name names for fear of leaving someone out.

"There is a definite core group of helpers, but I am good at asking for help," Carr said.

The PTO has been around for at least four years. Carr has been part of it for two years. It evolved from a small group of parents and teachers into a group that numbers 70 strong.

Had JRE not had such an organization last year, $4,000 worth of fourth-grade textbooks and $500 whiteboards would have to come out of the school budget.

The electric pencil sharpeners and small office supplies that make teachers' and students' lives a bit easier might not be in the classrooms.

At the start of each school year, teachers are given a $100 allowance from the PTO to use as they see fit and teachers know they can make special requests as needs arise.

The PTO meets after school once a month to discuss issues and plan events.

One of their events is an annual enchilada fund-raising dinner. Volunteers wrapped masa in husks for nearly 10,000 enchiladas and raised $7,500.

"We work our butts off raising the money and we want to spend it," Carr said.

The PTO hosts a yearly appreciation dance for school families. This year's dance had a Hawaiian theme.

The two previous dances were hoedown and sock hop themed.

"Everything we do incorporates the family," Carr said. "It would not work if the teachers did not support us like they do."

Once a month, the school library stays open late so children and their families can read together.

The PTO hosts "Muffins for Mom" and "Donuts for Dad" one day during the book fair.

The school's upcoming May 4, Spring Fling will be open to the public.

There will be pizza and fry bread. Children may get their faces painted, walk in a cupcake walk or test their ball-throwing skills at whomever Carr convinces into the dunk tank.

Tickets for games will be four for $1.

Paysonites love their silent auctions and parents will be accommodating them with different items to bid on.

Organizing a PTO is not difficult, but it does take someone to step up and get it going.

"It is worth it," Carr said. "I didn't think I would enjoy it as much as I do."

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