GRPS PALs: An Inside Peek
We say it all the time: No two schools are the same. The same goes for the 40+ schools in our district, 39 of which have PALs representing them. The PALs job description lists the general expectations of each PAL, but what does the PAL role look like in context? This list gives a look at some of the things our current PALs do every week at their schools – maybe it can inspire you to take on new or different tasks as the school year gets underway!
- Attending and promoting events and activities taking place at the school
By working closely with your building’s principal and other school leadership, you can keep up with what school events are happening and when. Part of being your school’s PAL is attending these school events, supporting school staff with planning and setting up, and promoting the event to the other families in your school network.
- Volunteering (and recruiting volunteers) in classrooms, the lunchroom, at recess, and on field trips
Calling all volunteers! With many buildings in short supply of staff, volunteerism is more important than ever. As a PAL, you can use your voice to recruit volunteers to help out as needed around the school. Be sure to have them fill out a volunteer application on the GRPS website.
- Working with Jamie and Katie to organize a Parent University course for the caregiver group in your school
Is there something particular that families in your school want to learn more about? Let us know! We have good working relationships with a number of nonprofits and local organizations around the Grand Rapids community and would love to work with you to plan a Parent University course at your school.
- Popcorn fundraising
Working alongside your building principal or other school leader to organize a popcorn fundraiser is another way PALs serve their schools.
- Communicating with families
Communication can look a lot of different ways in your school, for example:
- Introducing yourself and making yourself known to the school community at large
- Organizing a newsletter
- Sharing personal contact information to make way for two-way communication
- Circulating a survey, with the support of your principal
- Winter coat drives
Many buildings support coat drives during the colder months to keep our kids warm and dry. Talk to your principal to see whether this is something your school organizes and if you can help support the drive.
- Supporting KSSN Coordinators
KSSN Coordinators (Kent School Services Network) lead family and school engagement activities in their schools. If your school has a KSSN Coordinator, talk with them to find out how you can work together to serve your building’s families.
- School safety
Together, we can make our schools a safe place to learn! Communicate regularly with other caregivers from your school. What do they see at their school that makes them feel safe? What opportunities are there to improve school safety? As your building’s PAL, you are in a position to represent the voices of your school community to district leadership. If there is an issue of concern regarding school safety, please contact Katie or Jamie and we will direct your concern to have it addressed.
- Lending your voice to district initiatives as they arise
Frequently, the FACE department is contacted to request a parent/caregiver to be appointed to a district committee or to speak at a community event. If needed, we may reach out to you to lend your voice!
- Participating on the PTO, PTA, or PTCC
Does your school have a parent group that meets monthly to discuss building-based initiatives? If so, please make it a priority to attend! Having a strong presence on your school’s PTO/PTA/PTCC ensures that you attend every PAL meeting ready to represent the voices of caregivers in your school, and gives PALs a place to inform families on what’s going on in the FACE department and the GRPS district as a whole.
- Creating a presence in the main office of your building
This doesn’t necessarily mean setting up a desk (although some PALs do!) in your school’s main office, but we encourage all PALs to build a solid relationship with their secretary and other office staff. Doing so keeps PALs in the loop and makes schoolwide communication and participation MUCH easier.
- And above all, make the role your own! Have fun with it. We’re so glad to have you!