Schools are gearing up for the first day of class. However students are not the only ones who are a bit anxious to start the new school year. Parents, teachers and staff members are also looking forward in continuing their involvement in PTA, parent teacher association.

The Santa Monica – Malibu PTA Council has 16 different PTA units, from preschool through high school.

According to their website there are 7,000 parents, students, staff and community members who volunteer more than 120,000 hours annually to support children and families within the community.

Jennifer Smith, SMM PTA Council President has been a member of PTA for nearly 11 years.

She said, “It has been empowering to be able to advocate for education as a member of PTA. We work to foster the understanding that, as parents, we are a critical part of our children’s success in school and how parents can engage with our administrators, teachers and our children in support, collaborate and deliver the best education to meet each child’s needs.”

PTA is the oldest child advocacy organization in the country that works at the national, state and local level while focusing on educational issues.

Smith explains PTA can help provide a rich educational experience through fundraising, raising awareness about education relevant legislative issues, and funding after school and summer programs.

Members of PTA volunteer at elementary school events, participating in School Smarts Parent Academy and fundraisers throughout the year.

“However parents choose to participate, it sends the message to children that school is important and valued.  Giving parents ways to engage is PTA’s goal,” said Smith.

PTAs also run after school programs and partner with the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation each year to bring Summer Adventure to the district. Every year they are able to bring a low-cost, five-week enrichment program for elementary and middle school students.  They also work together to raise funds for academic and enrichment programs, as well as professional development for all staff to ensure a high quality education for all SMMUSD students.

Smith explains it all starts with becoming a member and then jumping in where ever you can.  PTA General membership meetings are held once a month during the school year.

“We are extremely fortunate to have strong and active PTA units throughout our district and could not accomplish all we do for our students without their help, support, and advocacy,” said SMMUSD Public Relations Officer Gail Pinsker.

To find out more information parents can drop into their school’s office to ask about PTA.  Each school has a PTA website that can be accessed through

“Parent engagement is very important to the success of our students and PTA provides a myriad of opportunities for parents to be involved in their child’s education and support school site programs,” said Pinsker. “We encourage parents to join their school PTA units and place high value on our partnership with PTA, as well as our partnership with the Education Foundation.”