PTO’s guiding force asking for more parental support

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, August 29, 2018

LAPLACE — Whenever she receives an employment offer at LaPlace Elementary School, Rhonda Cammon politely declines, preferring to put her energy into volunteer efforts to drive the school’s fundraising.

Cammon’s leadership has helped keep the dwindling LaPlace Elementary Parent Teacher Organization alive, ensuring students have access to new football and band uniforms, dances, graduations, class celebrations, field trips, lunchtime snacks and more.

She first joined the PTO 10 years ago, when her eldest granddaughter was enrolled at the school. Through the years, Cammon saw another grandchild through the school and was named PTO president.

With her youngest granddaughter now in seventh grade, Cammon is searching for volunteers to carry the torch after she’s gone.

Parental involvement is vital not only for fundraising, but to drive students toward success, according to Cammon.

“Children get excited when they see their parents at school supporting them,” Cammon said.

“That’s why I’m here, because of the love I have for the children. I feel all of them are mine. My goal is to keep the kids focused and keep the parents abreast of what’s going on. They need to show up for the kids.”

Cammon volunteers at the school daily, assisting in the classrooms and the cafeteria. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Wednesday and Friday, she oversees snack sales.

Pizza sales pay for three charter buses to bring third graders to the New Orleans Riverwalk in the spring.

Cammon mixes and hand pours approximately 1,000 of her specialty “Huck-a-Buck” cups each week. When she walks through the halls, students often call her name to ask about the next sale date.

“The kids feel comfortable with coming to the PTO room,” Cammon said.

“I’ve built rapport with a lot of parents because I’ve been here so long. They know what I do, and they trust me to talk to their kids.”

The PTO roster has been small for the last 10 years, though Cammon said she’s received invaluable assistance from Bethany Cooper, Stephanie Duncan, Ganelda Cammon and Ketondra Cammon, among others. Support from cafeteria staff including Denise Gray, Terry Charles and Ronette Carter have made snack sales a success, she said.

Cooper, LaPlace Elementary’s new secretary, has worked tirelessly alongside Cammon. She encourages parents and grandparents with flexible work schedules to step into much needed daily support positions around the school.

“It’s very important because we have the largest elementary school in this parish; the largest amount of classrooms; the largest amount of everything,” Cooper said. “We have to work collectively to make sure our children are academically prepared.”

Assisting with breakfast and guiding little ones to class are ways the community can help out in the mornings, Cooper said.

Principal Zina Jones said PTO members work seamlessly with administration and are integral as student advocates.

To draw more support, Cammon is promoting an informational PTO meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at LaPlace Elementary. Parents can sign in and pay $5 to receive a volunteer badge that allows them to help out in classrooms, lunch periods or any school functions.

Subsequent meetings will be held the second Tuesday of each month, and children of parents who volunteer are gifted three free snacks.

For more information, call 985-652-5552.