This year, the organization is working in conjunction with the Shamong Foundation for Educational Excellence to construct an inclusive playground at Indian Mills School. The playground, said HSA President Ali Ferrell, will also be available for use by residents when school is not in session.
Ferrell said association membership dues are $20 per family and are paid at the beginning of the school year. Other funds raised help with various activities or projects.
“We fund a lot of activities in the classrooms, such as their computer program subscriptions, and it’s a helpful tool for us to assist with because they’re not built in the school’s budget,” Ferrell explained.
HSA plans events throughout the year to supplement in- and after-school educational activities for students such as assemblies, classroom parties, field trips, subscriptions for technology-based programs and fulfillment of teacher wish lists at both Indian Mills and Indian Mills Memorial schools.
The initiatives are the primary reason Ferrell is part of the organization.
“I always wanted to be involved in my son’s school and when the former (president) was stepping down, I was asking to step up and I’ve loved every minute of it,” she said. “I love meeting with all of the new people and working with the parents.”
Events such as dine-and-donates, the Nov. 22 candy bingo/family fun night and a parents’ night out Feb. 28 help HSA raise money via donations or admission prices.
Kids are also involved in some of the association’s efforts such as the ongoing Penny War for grades kindergarten through fourth, where students collect loose change to help fund the new playground. Students are given an extra incentive with a pizza party prize for the class that collects the most coins.
Ferrell noted that parents, whether they’re part of the organization or not, are notified of upcoming events through a Facebook page, monthly newsletters, take-home packets and information posted on school websites.
To help bridge gaps between parents and teachers, the HSA assigns “room parents” to each classroom so there is a constant line of communication.
“A room parent is in charge of organizing classroom parties and facilitating communications between parents and teachers,” Ferrell explained. “A room mom will also facilitate volunteer activities.”
To Ferrell’s delight, 180 families are HSA members, more than last year. She added the executive board has changed, with the exception of the treasurer, and parents participate when asked, offering constructive feedback.
“By each family supporting us with the $20 entrance fee, it helps us not deplete our funds for the playground,” she said. “We can also do our other activities as well.”
For parents who want to join the HSA or learn more about its activities, meetings are held on the first Thursday of every month at the Indian Mills Memorial School’s library, beginning at 7 p.m. November’s meeting is scheduled for the 14th because school is closed Nov. 7 and 8 for the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) convention.