Spotlights
FACE of the Week: Meghan Parker, President of the Hereford Middle School PTA
As part of BCPS' commitment to ongoing Family And Community Engagement, the "FACE of the Week" is a new, regular feature of the BCPS website that introduces you to some of the people who make BCPS special – our volunteers and PTA members.
11/30/2015

Spotlight

Life is in the little moments, Meghan Parker is fond of saying.

It's there along the sidelines of a recent soccer tournament in Pennsylvania, where Parker's 86-year-old, Korea War-veteran father insists on cheering on his granddaughter Cindy despite a teeth-chattering chill.

It’s there in the PTA’s purchase of a karaoke machine for the staff at Hereford Middle School to use during American Education Week, when Assistant Principal Lisa Frey’s first, nervous songs warbled into a lunch-time sensation, and soon everyone seemed to be joining in.

And it’s there when Parker finishes her busy days, and lays her head down, and reflects on her work as Hereford Middle’s energetic PTA president and the good she and her Board are responsible for.

“When I can see the smiles on the kids’ faces, and when the administrators are smiling, when we’re all starting the day with a smile, then, yeah, I feel pretty good about what we’ve been able to do,” she says. “It’s just a good feeling being able to help.”

As PTA president, Parker and her Board are prompting a lot of smiles at Hereford Middle School these days. Aware that parent school participation often flags as children enter middle and then high school, she and her fellow PTA officers are engaged in a proactive effort to bring parents into the school building. Through a series of events and attention to the “little moments” of the school day, Parker says, she seeks to offer parents more opportunities to connect with the school.

She credits Principal Cathy Walrod and other administrators with allowing free rein. “When I became president (in July), I asked, ‘Is it okay if I try a few new things?’ and they never hesitated. ‘Yes, yes, yes, go for it,’ they told me,” Parker says. “They have been so supportive.”

Walrod says she appreciates the work that Parker and the Board have done. “She’s a doll,” she says of Parker. “Under Meghan’s leadership, we have a very positive and productive PTA board. They are extremely supportive of the teachers, staff, and school program. They quickly respond and fulfill teacher requests that enhance their classrooms. They make things happen.”

Creating opportunities

Making things happen seems hard-wired into Parker’s DNA. An Ellicott City native, she moved to northern Baltimore County from Howard County shortly after Cindy was born. Weary of his commute to McCormick Spice Co. and long a fan of the rolling hills of the Hereford Zone – and the great schools there, Parker says – her husband, Brad, proposed the idea; the family hasn’t looked back since.

Parker became involved in the PTA first at Sparks Elementary School when Cindy enrolled. “I’m a stay-at-home mom, but I’m also a ‘people person,’ and I don’t like sitting around the house all day,” she says. So she looked to the Sparks PTA as an opportunity to become involved, something she says elementary schools have in abundance compared to middle or high schools.

“What I’ve found is that when children get older, there are fewer opportunities for their parents to be involved,” she says. “In schools, there’s less parental involvement (than at elementary grade levels) because there are fewer opportunities.”

The seed was planted then, the idea that focusing on events that require parental involvement might serve a PTA and school well. When Cindy moved to middle school, it wasn’t long before Parker’s can-do reputation landed her a nomination as president of the school’s PTA. Taking the responsibility on made her nervous, she says, but she had plenty of support from the school’s PTA leadership.

Since then, the school and its students and staff have enjoyed project after project spearheaded by the PTA, including a Family Fun Night, the purchase of a new piano and dolly for the music department, involvement in obtaining pedometers for students school-wide, and an initiative to incorporate the school’s National Junior Honor Society students into event decision-making.

Up next – a planned movie night, a charity run and fun night set for late spring, and helping to fund a new television and audio-visual system in the school.

“Under Meghan’s guidance, the PTA has helped numerous staff members get equipment and supplies to enhance their programs,” says Timothy Thomas, the school’s library media specialist. “She’s always willing to lend a helping hand, while keeping a smile on her face.”

Making things happen

Ultimately, Parker would like her legacy to be one of expanding opportunities for parents and the school. She has the energy to do it – a boundless enthusiasm that makes it hard to say “no” – and she has a forward-learning Board that has come up with ideas for projects all year.

Becoming involved in the PTA is a great way to become familiar with a school, she says, and such engagement has direct benefits for children. “I know being actively involved helps your child academically and in other ways,” she says. She also enjoys the quasi-notoriety that comes with an officer’s job.

“The kids know me,” she says, laughing. “They may not know who I am, but they know the face, and they’ll wave at me in the grocery store. It’s just that you develop a little deeper connection to your child and to their education.”

With a year and a half to go until Cindy moves on to high school, what is next for her mother? Parker has ideas: “What I want is (for the PTA) to grow not just financially, though I’d like to see that, too, but more socially. Maybe that isn’t the right word, but I want the PTA able to work at helping students and staff out every day.”

Especially, she says, in those small moments, the ones that count.

“I’m not necessarily the most creative person in the room,” she says, “but I will make things happen.”

To learn more about the PTA of Baltimore County, visit http://www.bcptacouncil.org/.

Story and photos by Charles Herndon, specialist, BCPS Family and Community Engagement. For more photos, visit the BCPS Flickr site at https://www.flickr.com/photos/bcps/albums/72157661722487061.
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