The Parent Association is an impressive arm of ASF. Their reach on campus is seen throughout the school year. From book fairs to the annual Art Fair, the Parent Association engages the community through membership and activism. A non-commercial, non-sectarian, and non-partisan association is guided by six simple objectives: be an active liaison between all stakeholders; support the school’s mission, organize, support and promote cultural and educational activities; offer hospitality; and fundraise in support of ASF. The driving objectives are implemented because of the Parent Association’s leadership, collaborative spirit and army of parent volunteers.
Membership is automatic to all parents who have students actively enrolled in ASF. This is the only requirement for membership. As a member, parents can support their students by attending meetings, serving on one of the six committees, or even running for elected office.
Organizationally the Parent Association is led by the Executive Board. This year’s governing body currently consists of President, Ana Elena Pérez, Vice President, Angie Alemán, Secretary, Paulina Silva, Treasurer, Marcela Pino, Assistant Treasurer, Juliana Barreneche, and Parliamentarian, Michelle Troice. Each position is a two-year posting with elections taking place alternating years. Because of this organization structure and vision, the Parent Association was able to donate over $600,000 pesos to the Endowment Fund for Financial Aid and Capital Building Fund last year. Silva reflected on that success, “Last year was amazing. We were a group of people working towards the same goal. It was 100% teamwork.”
Within the Parent Association there are several committees that support, organize, and promote the events and success of the association. The Book Fair, New Families, Cultural Visits and Book Club committees are led by a coordinator. These coordinators make up the Extended Board which reports to the Executive Board.
To raise these funds and promote community, the Parent Association holds five annual fundraising events that generate an impressive bounty: three book fairs, the Art Fair, and ASF goes to La Feria.
The book fairs, an English Book Fair, a Spanish Book Fair, and the Used Book Fair, bring the ASF community together around literacy. Highly attended, these fairs promote international and local authors covering a wide swath of interests and topics. It also supports the balance of ASF’s bilingual education and culture. The Used Book Fair is held during Earth Week and is a great community event everyone is invited to share their personal libraries and to freshen them in an environmentally-friendly way.
The Art Fair is the crown jewel fundraiser the Parent Association sponsors. It is the only event written into the bylaws of the association. Held on November 10 this year, the Art Fair sells over 5,000 tickets and highlights local and international artists. Student and alumni artists are welcomed and form an institutional commitment to the ASF culture.
The last fundraiser is the planned trip to Chapultepec – ASF goes to La Feria. This event sells over 3,000 tickets and provides an opportunity for the entire ASF community to enjoy the park and festivities.
These events support and enable the association to complete their annual objectives and promote this year’s theme: Community. Pérez explains, “We really want to get everyone involved. We want to bring everyone together.” They are doing this with programming for families and faculty.
“We try to reach out to new families especially international families, so last year we created a program called Parent Ambassadors.” Pérez explained. The Ambassador program is a core group of parent volunteers who reach out to these new families and work together with them to assist them in the admissions and acclamation processes. Ambassadors reach out by sending an initial introductory and informative. The program began the summer of 2017, starting with 11 volunteers. This year, 33 ambassador volunteers welcomed new families to ASF.
The Taquiza was this year’s organizing event. A gathering of tacos, parent volunteers, new families and students. “We think when there is food. Everybody is happy.”, Pérez reflected. Besides an informational session, Pérez noted that parents were connecting personally and even setting up playdates for their children. As the school year started, Ambassadors in matching shirts for the first three days at each school volunteered as informational and transitional stewards, “We had them there to support our new families during the beginning of the school year because it can be a confusing time for them.” Pérez explained.
This year’s expansion of the Book Clubs is another program that brings parents together and models reading for students. “Last year we started with the idea of creating parent book clubs– One in Spanish, one in English, and a bilingual one.” PA Secretary, Silva explained. This year each book club has doubled and meets in the Upper School Learning Center.
In the ECC and LS, the Parent Association has organized a Homeroom program. Each classroom has at least two homeroom parents. “We try to match up an experienced ASF parent with interested new parents so they feel more comfortable.” Pérez shared. These parents work with the homeroom teachers to organize events and be the extra hands need.
In 2006, to align to the Southern Association of Independent Schools, the ASF Parent-Teacher Association dropped the word Teacher and became today’s Parent Association. However, Pérez is quick to explain, “It doesn’t mean we don’t support or work with teachers. We love our teachers.” In fact, based on last year’s budget, teachers were the greatest expenditure the Parent Association had. With the orientation of new teachers, the international brunches, and the turkey cook-off and giveaway, teachers and staff are fully supported by the association. During Back to School Nights, the Parent Association provides lunch for the teachers. “We hire a caterer and parents are there helping to serve lunch.” Pérez explains. She shared that these events help to connect parents with teachers.
Looking to the future, Pérez and Silva do not keep to the status quo. Plans are in place to form a Sustainability Committee to address concerns over waste and expense here on campus. They see continued success with the five fundraisers. As the year unfolds and their association’s efforts to build community insures these events are certainly going to grow. Leading the Parent Association’s budget of $3 million pesos is a daunting task and truly takes a village, as Pérez describes, “Our parents are our best resource. Not all parents have time to donate their time here on campus, but they can offer their professional services.” Pérez and Silva are proud of the association’s past contributions to the Endowment Fund for Financial Aid and Capital Building Fund. “We hope to have a larger donation this year.” said Silva, “It is so good that we can do that and make ASF better.”
If you are a parent and are looking for ways to become more involved, Pérez and Silva are more than happy to put you to work. Stop by the Parent Association’s Office, located behind Starbucks. Remember – It takes a village!