PTO leaders enjoy supporting teachers, kids

When Becky Schreiber left a career in accounting to stay home with her young twins, she wanted to find a way to give back to the community. She decided to support education, first by volunteering at the twins' preschool and now Madison School, where she is co-president of the PTO with Heather Rooney.

"I do have time and flexibility in my schedule," said Schreiber, who was the PTO treasurer before becoming co-president two years ago. "What greater way to give my time and resources to my kids' education and our community as a whole?"

Rooney, who is director of sales for the company that makes Sharpie markers and Elmer's glue, appreciates the opportunity to contribute in a way that fits her work schedule.

"Becky does a lot of the heavy lifting and I help her out," said Rooney, who worked on fundraising for the PTO for two years before becoming co-president this year.

"I'll be president next year. We try to do a two-year commitment. It's a nice, really easy transition."

Leading the PTO is comparable to steering a ship, Schreiber said.

"We have an amazing executive committee at Madison. Everyone is so enthusiastic, collaborative, creative, just doers, and so it makes our jobs easier. We really just help facilitate what the PTO does," she added.

The two work closely with Principal Barbara Shanahan to make sure the organization supports teachers in the best way.

"We don't have a committee necessarily for that, so a lot of that will fall on us," Rooney said.

The PTO's biggest fundraisers are the Dash & Bash in the fall and a parent night that takes place every other year. Proceeds from those events, dues and donations help fund projects like purchasing new basketball hoops and backboards, re-striping the blacktop outside the school and refreshing the outdoor living garden. Next year the PTO plans to purchase additional equipment for the school's new outdoor playground, which will be replaced using district funds.

Schreiber, Rooney and the eight other executive committee members determine how to allocate the money the PTO raises each year. Both said they are grateful for the generous parents who make so many projects possible.

The PTO also hosts a science fair and High Interest Days at the school to help bring some unique and fun learning experiences to kids and sends out a weekly newsletter with dates, a message from the principal and other important information.

"It really is the Bible for what you need to know about all the goings-on at the school. It's kind of a one-stop shop," Rooney said.

When she isn't working or volunteering, Rooney enjoys trips with her family to their second home in Grand Haven, Mich., where they spend time at the beach during the summer and ski during the winter. Schreiber and her family enjoy summer visits at the kids' grandparents' house at Lake Geneva and spend much of the rest of the year

at swim meets.

Schreiber and Rooney praised Shanahan for her support, enthusiasm and care for the children. They are equally impressed with the teachers she leads.

"It's really a joy to be able to enhance their experience at Madison," Schreiber said.

"It makes it easy to want to do this," Rooney added.

- story by Pamela Lannom, photo by Jim Slonoff

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean