Parent Associations – A Potent Educational Force Multiplier

By: Anneliese Steele, Clarksville Academy Parent Association (CAPA) Board Member

As I consider how to best describe the impact parent associations (PAs) have on the lives of our children, the term “force multiplier” comes to mind.  I learned this concept as a military planner. The Military defines a force multiplier as “a capability that, when added to and employed …significantly increases the … potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment.”  We all want to increase the potential of OUR children, our most precious treasure, and enhance their ability to become accomplished students, don’t we?

Have you received that call or text? The one where your children’s school administrator or PA member is imploring you to join, help or donate.  My husband and I received that call. Against our better judgement, we said yes to all three. Where would we find the time, and the desire? In retrospect, it is a decision we won’t ever regret. We learned a best kept secret. PAs are a potent force multiplier; they dramatically increase or “multiply” the effectiveness of our schools, our principles, our teachers, our school administrators and our coaches. Vibrant, committed PAs significantly improve the potential and success of our children. You might ask, how is this possible?

About three years ago we said yes to serving in the CAPA because we believe in Clarksville Academy (CA). We respect the school’s leaders and teachers and wanted to make a difference. We found CAPA to be an energetic service and fundraising organization with a mission to enhance the educational experiences of our students by encouraging a spirit of community and by supporting CA with needed services and resources. The members include CA parents, guardians, family, alumni, friends, faculty, coaches and staff.

CAPA is a bonded school community because we all care about creating the best possible educational experience, at CA, for our children. CAPA works with the teachers and staff to help provide educational excellence to our children. CAPA emphasizes involvement, inclusion, participation, caring and serving. CAPA is a loving and caring community, committed to helping students and their families get their children through all grades at CA.

CAPA members contribute several different ways and we always encourage more parents to join us. The CAPA leadership meets with the CA Head of School once a month to ensure the efforts of CAPA support the efforts of the school, and to keep CAPA leaders informed on school initiatives and critical upcoming events.  We serve on the committees, on the leadership board or simply take part with event set ups. We have the Boo Hoo Breakfast that Pre-K and Kindergarten parents can attend after their first drop off, on their child’s first day of school. Many parents help with other events such as the Back to School Bash, the Winter Festival and Steak Dinner. Countless parents give of their time, money and talents as they prepare and drop off treats for our teachers, once a month, and for an entire week in May. All CAPA members are dedicated to showing our teachers how valued and appreciated they are to us. A teacher that feels valued and supported is more focused and effective in the classroom, with our sons and daughters. Other members serve on committees such as the New Parent Welcome Committee, the Box Top Coordinator Committee, the Teachers Appreciation Committee, and the Christmas Decorations Committee.  Should you get involved?

Why is it important for parents to be a part of CAPA or any other PA? First and foremost, YOUR child benefits. Studies show, when parents get involved with schools, their kids benefit by getting better grades and have less discipline challenges. You build relationships and communication with your child’s teachers, principals, administrators and coaching staff. With all these relationships enhanced, you’ll know what is going on and who’s involved. You can even help plan events. Serving with the CAPA allows you to network by meeting other parents and teachers. It allows you to build rapport, discuss ideas, share ideas, concerns and experiences that will help make the school better for all. You can be innovative, make a difference and help to make positive changes. Helping with fundraising can provide money to improve facilities, the curriculum and social events. Serving in CAPA enables you make new friends and make your children proud. They may never tell you, but they appreciate seeing you and you will be a great role model for them. If your time is limited, you can do something small like donating money, swinging by the store to buy a treat, whipping up something homemade or spending a couple of hours setting up for Steak Dinner or the Winter Festival. Are you interested?

Do you want to become an educational force multiplier for your child’s school? How can you get involved? Most PAs have their own webpage on the school’s website, and it shows you how to join. At CA, you can send an email to our CAPA Communications Officer You can talk to CAPA representatives for the Lower, Intermediate and Upper Schools. They are Mrs. Beth Mabry, Mr. Doug Skaggs and Mrs. Christina Clark, respectively. You can send an email or call a committee chair. You can give the receptionist your name, contact information and what you would like to help with, and she will give it to a CAPA representative. You could even have your child give your information to your teacher and I am certain the teacher will gladly pass it on to a CAPA representative.

Your involvement shows you care and will show your children that their education is important to you. It models, to your children, how important it is for them to be a part of making the community around them better. Be active in your school’s PA. Enhance the effectiveness of the school leaders, teachers, coaches and administrators. Be a potent educational force multiplier, visibly invested in the success of our children, our schools and our communities!



The Gift of Giving Back

Volunteering with Your Family Over the Holidays

By Ginna Holleman, CEO United Way Clarksville

As we make our lists and check them twice, it’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of holiday celebrations.  Through the hustle and bustle, we are often consumed with “gifting” and lose sight of the spirit of “giving.”   This season, invite your family to help center the focus back where it started – at the heart of the holidays – by giving back together.

While making a meaningful difference, volunteering as a family strengthens the time you spend with each other and teaches children the values of empathy and selfless service.  The time you share cultivates a heart for service that extends throughout adulthood and creates a lifetime of memories.  Volunteering is also a rewarding opportunity for children and teens to explore their talents and learn that when you take the time to make others’ days a bit happier, you’ll find you’ve given yourself the gift of happiness, too. (Shhhhh! Just don’t tell them they’re still learning during their break.) 

To get you started, I’ve wrapped up a list of 8 ideas to help you and your family give back this holiday season:

1.  Share a cup of cheer.

Open a hot chocolate or cider stand and serve others while serving up these favorite winter treats.   We all love a lemonade stand, and cold weather brings the opportunity for a fun and festive twist on this neighborhood tradition.  Offer to your neighbors or ask if you can open your stand at a holiday community event to spread the warmth even further.  Then donate collected proceeds to a local nonprofit with a mission your family wishes to support.

2.  Make cookies for a cause.

Join together with family and/or friends for a cookie baking/decorating party and then deliver the cookies as surprise goodies to senior citizens, mail carriers, first responders or anyone needing a warm smile.  

3.  Send a holiday hi.

Make holiday cards or artwork for senior citizens alone or soldiers deployed overseas.  They love to receive the personal greetings that let them know someone cares.  Holiday greetings can be shared locally through the Meals on Wheels “Nourishing Notes” program or the American Red Cross “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program.

4. Help deck the halls.

Take on those Pinterest ideas or contact a tree farm about donating Christmas trees for nursing homes, hospitals, or families who can’t afford to buy their own. Maybe you have a neighbor who lives alone and can’t decorate their house during the holidays.  Brighten the holidays by seeking out a local kids or senior citizen program that needs help decorating for their holiday party. 

5.  Adopt a family … or charity.

Many nonprofits and churches provide the opportunity to adopt a family or child during the holidays. Shop for the gifts together, and if possible, deliver them together.  Local charities also have very limited resources and try to keep operational expenses as low as possible.  Ask if they have a wish list of items needed that helps fulfill their valuable mission.

6.  Serve a meal.

Deliver meals and the holiday greetings you made via the Meals on Wheels program.  The delivery service is always looking for extra drivers during the holiday season when some of their regular delivery volunteers take a vacation or become ill. (Background check required)  Families can also volunteer to serve meals onsite through programs like Manna Cafe Ministries or Loaves and Fishes.

7.  Spread some warmth.

Many individuals struggle through the cold winter temperatures.  Spread some warmth by making no-sew tie blankets.  These easy-to-make crafts require only three supplies – inexpensive fleece material, scissors and a ruler.  They are super quick to put together and a fun craft for all.  Once completed, the blankets can be donated to local shelters, hospitals or social service agencies serving those in need.  Check out this simple how-to video for blanketing the community in your care:

8.  Fill stockings with care.

Host a warm sock drive and fill the socks with water bottles, toiletry items, granola bars and other nonperishable snacks. Donate these to local nonprofits, shelters and churches serving the homeless to help keep them warm.  Gloves, scarves and other cold weather gear is greatly needed and appreciated as well.

United Way of the Greater Clarksville Region hosts a website dedicated to connecting volunteers with opportunities to serve.  To view many other local projects and sign-up online, simply visit or call the United Way office at (931) 647-4291.  

While the options to serve are endless, the impact you create will be timeless.  At the holidays and throughout the year, may the blessings you give in service be immeasurably received by you and your family in return.  

Begin Your Journey.