Why should you care about the PTA?

Congratulations on making it through the first day of school! Whether you were celebrating on the sidewalk or wiping away the tears (or a little of both) this morning, we hope that you and your kids had a marvelous day.

While you catch your breath from day 1 and gear up for the next 179, I want to take a moment to encourage you to do two things this week:

1. Join the PTA.

2. Donate to the No Fuss Fundraiser.

Here’s why you should join the PTA

Your membership shows your commitment to supporting teachers, staff and students at Joyner throughout the year — the greater our membership numbers, the stronger our voice at the school, district and state levels. Membership in the Joyner PTA connects you with advocates in the Wake County, North Carolina and National PTA organizations, all of whom are working to make sure school is a great place to teach and learn.

If your vision of PTA is just bake sales and end-of-year classroom parties, then you’re really missing out. At Joyner, we are privileged to have a strong, energetic PTA filled with volunteers who are committed to making Joyner a place where every student and teacher can succeed. We have a range of volunteer opportunities available throughout the year, from one-off community event set-up to year-long advocacy programs, so there’s something for everyone. And we PROMISE that joining the PTA doesn’t accidentally put you in charge of anything you don’t want to lead — there’s no up-front volunteer commitment or requirement.

Joining the PTA costs just $5 — but we hope you’ll add your No Fuss Fundraiser donation above that amount to support PTA programming at Joyner. Both your dues and your donation are 100% tax deductible. Just make one donation for any amount from $5 to $500 (or beyond!) to cover both your PTA membership and your fundraising gift. Stop by the PTA table in the lobby before school to make your donation (or tell us you gave online) and we’ll give you a cool JYJ car magnet!


Here’s why you should donate to the No Fuss Fundraiser

Approximately half of the PTA’s budget comes from money donated during the fall No Fuss Fundraiser, going on now. With the exciting news that our school’s Foundation has made it possible to fund 1.5 teaching positions this year, we realize it might be less obvious what your PTA donations do for students and teachers at Joyner. The PTA and the Foundation are great partners, but they’re two separate organizations with two separate budgets — that’s why you’ll hear from both of us when it comes to fundraising.

Here’s a quick list of just some of what the PTA makes possible:

  • Enhanced classroom technology across the school
  • Cultural arts and science experiences during the school day for every grade level
  • Mini-grants for teachers to bring new ideas into their classrooms
  • Academic enrichment opportunities, like Odyssey of the Mind and Science Olympiad
  • Schoolwide events that build community, including the fall Joyner Jamboree and spring Night of Nonsense
  • Athletic programs such as First in Fitness, PE supplies, the Joyner 5K and running club
  • Design and production of the JYJ yearbook
  • Student awards and recognitions, including publication of student writing
  • Sets of books for teachers to use in class with students
  • Improvements to school grounds, including the turf field, stage and outdoor sound system
  • Appreciation events for teachers and staff
  • Student events and celebrations, including the Summer Reading Challenge, kindergarten popsicles, Field Day and fifth grade graduation
  • Advocacy efforts at the county and state levels to support policies that benefit students in our public schools

Amazingly, we’re able to do ALL of this without asking you or your children to sell wrapping paper, magazines, coupon books, cookie dough or summer sausages. All you have to do is donate to the No Fuss Fundraiser online or by sending in cash/check with a form (click here for English or click here for Spanish) to your child’s teacher.


Now take a deep breath and enjoy the year ahead — and feel free to reach out to any PTA board member or committee chair if there’s something we can do to help!

10 ways to get ready for a great school year!

Hello Jaguars!

Welcome to all who are returning to our school and those who are here for the first time – we are so glad to have you in the Joyner family!

August 28 will be here before we know it, so I just want to take a moment to introduce myself and welcome you to the 2017-18 school year. In case we haven’t met yet, I’m Cyndi Soter O’Neil and I have the pleasure of serving as your PTA president this year. This will be our family’s sixth year at Joyner – my daughter is starting 4th grade and my son (a proud Joyner grad) is in 7th grade at Carroll. 

We have some new faces this year, including an ever-expanding kindergarten cohort (hello, six classes!) and a terrific interim principal to get us off to a great start (thanks, Mr. Chappell!). But whether this marks your first or your tenth year at the JYJ, please know that you play an important part in making our school a family, and we hope you’ll take advantage of all the ways (small and large) to get involved in school and the PTA.


Just in case you would like to mark a few things off your to-do list before school starts, here’s a top 10 list of things you can do from the ease of your computer to streamline the back to school process:

1. Join the PTA and make your No-Fuss fundraiser contribution. At Joyner, we don’t ask kids to sell wrapping paper, candles, cookie dough or coupon books. We simply ask that you make whatever donation you can to help us cover the many wonderful things that the PTA does for our teachers and students. You can join and donate online through this link: https://jyj.memberhub.com/dues. If you prefer a paper membership/ contribution form, download them here (English or Spanish) or check the letters coming from the school next week — just fill out the form and bring it with you to Meet the Teacher or send it in to your child’s teacher.

2. Complete the online JYJ PTA volunteer form to let us know your interest in PTA volunteer opportunities. By filling out the form, you’re not promising anything long term – but a committee chair will get in touch with you to see what would be of interest to you.

3. Sign up in MemberHub and/or update your directory info. If you are new to MemberHub, complete this form and we’ll get you into the JYJ Hub: https://jyj.memberhub.com/join/9bpx9e. If you’re already in the JYJ Hub, take a moment to update your info. Once class lists are made available, volunteers will place you (and your children) in the proper classroom and grade level hubs, so be sure to add your children’s information when you join MemberHub.

4. Follow the JYJ PTA Twitter account – find us @pta_joyner and tag us when you have news to share.

5. Check out the PTA website, complete with a glossary of JYJ terms, list of committee chairs and other helpful info.

6. Buy school supplies (find lists here) and add money to your child’s lunch account here.

7. Make sure you have your calendar marked for back-to-school events, including Meet the Teacher (Aug. 25 drop-in between 8-9:30 for 1st-5th grades, Sept. 1 at noon for kindergarten) and Open House (Sept. 7 starting at 5 p.m.) Check out the school/PTA calendar and link it to your own Google Calendar.

8. Be on the lookout for JYJ swag. Order forms will be available soon to get your Joyner t-shirts, hoodies and more!

9. Read the weekly NewsFlash, delivered to all MemberHub subscribers inbox each Wednesday morning throughout the school year (catch up on past editions here). Be on the lookout for your packet from school (which includes your teacher assignment). Letters are scheduled to be mailed by Aug. 18.

10. Enjoy the final days of summer and get those back-to-school outfits ready!  


Cyndi Soter O’Neil 
2017-18 JYJ PTA President

President’s Monthly Musing: “Remember Me as IB”

From PTA President Keisha Green

In my former life (years before becoming a PTA President), I worked in higher education administration.  In that role, I frequently came in contact with students who had earned the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma.  I noticed that one after the other set the bar for academic achievement.  Whatever they’d learned prior to college set them on a path to success.  I thought that someday I’d want the same for my children.

After completing research on the IB programmes, I was happy to discover that IB existed at the elementary level (yay for Joyner!).  Yet, I realize that many parents may be unaware of the principles promoted by this special program.  In each of my communications this year, I’ve integrated a bit of those principles.  Its tenets reflect the importance of intellect and more importantly citizenship.

The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world.

The IB programme encourages its students to embrace 10 core principles that support its mission.  IB learners strive to be:

Inquirers  “Summer Inquirers”                        Caring “Caring Families with Engaged Learners”

Knowledgeable “Common Knowledge”     Communicators “Champion Communications”

Balanced  “Balanced Foundation”                   Reflective “Rules Reflective of our Purpose”

Principled  “The Power of Principled Parents”    Risk-Takers

Open-Minded                              Thinkers 

Over this past year, I’ve considered each of these principles when making decisions and confronting challenges.  For those of you that I’ve met, and those that I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting, it is my hope that you recognize in all areas, every consideration has been given to embracing humanity and creating a happy place for our children and our world (JYJ).

It has been my pleasure to serve as President of the PTA this year.  I have no doubt that Catherine Otto and her board will continue to make this a better space for our children.  As I say good-bye to this role, if there is any way to remember my tenure, I’d say to Remember Me as IB….

President’s Monthly Musings: Caring Families with Engaged Learners

From PTA President Keisha Green

A graduate student recently sought my response to a school-related topic that I realized I knew very little about.  At the time, I did not search for more information.  Rather, I gave her an honest, off-the-cuff response under the realization that I was woefully uninformed on the subject.


The student solicited my response to the statement, “parents’ understanding of district, state and federal mandates regarding parent engagement.”  My initial response was to scratch my head in bewilderment.  Then, I assumed she was referring to attendance laws.

Little did I know that such mandates are much more pronounced and involve schools encouraging parents to take an active role in the school setting.  As the parent of school-aged children, I had given little thought to the fact that there are laws and policies in place that encourage family’s engagement in their children’s education.   Here is a bit of what I discovered at each level of government.

The “Every Student Succeeds Act” mandates that states must provide school districts and schools with effective parent engagement strategies.  The National PTA has identified family engagement as one its legislative priorities.

North Carolina’s general statutes posit the General Assembly’s “belief that parent involvement is an essential component of school success and positive student outcomes.”  There is an actual  statute (N.C.G.S. §95-28.3)  that mandates employers’ allowing parents four hours of annual leave for involvement in school-related activities.

Moreover, the General Assembly charges local boards of education with a duty to work with local business leaders to “include and adopt as part of their personnel policies time for employees… to attend conferences with their children’s teachers.” (N.C.G.S. §115C-47(34)).

The NC State Board of Education publishes a policy manual that addresses its stance on family involvement.   It’s exhaustive and can be found here.
As part of its strategic plan, the Wake County School Board, pledges its commitment to community engagement.   Particularly, the Board’s policy states its intent to:

  • Increase Community Volunteers
  • Strengthen Parent Engagement by offering programs in multiple languages via diverse channels
  • Require School Improvement Plans to include community engagement components that support student achievement, and
  • Strengthen customer service in areas with high parental patronage

Research shows that there is a positive correlation between parental involvement and students’ eagerness for learning.  While Joyner does not appear to be lacking in partnerships between parents and the school, it’s interesting to know that there are laws and policies in place that encourage and advocate for these relationships.  Engagement is so much more than our children’s showing up for the school day.

President’s Monthly Musings: “The Power of Principled Parents”

From PTA President Keisha Green

Wow! As I reflect upon the Healthy Choice Marathon and this past weekend’s events, I realize what has materialized is an awesome display of our parents’ commitment to the betterment of our children. Many of you deserve a hand!

“Run Club” had a hard time getting off and running, literally. The primary purpose of the club is to have the children train prior to the 5K. However, their taking part has a multitude of rewards. Please join me in thanking Fraley Marshall for taking on the challenge of leading this effort, for helping our children build their enthusiasm for the race, for enlightening them on the importance of cheering on their fellow schoolmates and for increasing their camaraderie and JYJ spirit.

Any of you fortunate enough to witness Shawn Winstead’s cheers and high kicks in the lobby understand that her passion for the classroom challenge was palpable. Arinn Widmayer led our overall fundraising efforts for the 5k. The numbers are still incomplete, but we have at least reached our goal of raising $20,000 for PTA programs!

And who among us has not been exposed to the talent of Kelli Gracely? She contributed her priceless designs to the race. The t-shirts and posters were OUTSTANDING! Additionally, Kate Sonawane continued to lend her time and talent towards Healthy Choice. And the daunting task of race logistics fell to Joe Nuss, who executed flawlessly.

While the culmination of our healthy choice events was the grand finale of our weekend, there was another huge familial undertaking this past weekend. Odyssey of the Mind is completely parent run, and we are hugely fortunate to have many parents willing to act as coaches, judges and coordinators. VonGretchen Pough and Andrew Jones took on the Herculean task of forming our teams and organizing participation. Coaches not only lead their teams for several months, but they opened their homes and utilized their personal resources to promote our children’s creativity and innovation. And, we have TWO teams headed to state! We applaud each and every one of you!

While it’s impossible to name them all, we are truly fortunate to have parents AND grandparents like ours. We work as a collective body to address the physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of our children. Our “family” is strongly principled and progressive, and it shows in our accomplishments!

At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.
– Jane D. Hull

President’s Monthly Musings: “Champion Communications”

From PTA President Keisha Green

Champion. What makes one? This is a question that’s heavily analyzed during this time of year. As I sat, waiting in anticipation of last night’s big game, I pondered this question myself in light of the 4Cs identified within the Superintendent’s Strategic Plan. Although I know Ms. Hutchinson has mentioned the 4Cs, I realize that not all of you may recall what the Cs entail. The 4Cs are learning competencies identified as important skillsets to master for future workforce demands.

I propose that becoming a champion, whether in sports, the arts, stem fields or the humanities, is the 5th, unspoken C, the ultimate GOAL for our 21st Century learners.  Joyner’s PTA calls great plays in our efforts to support this goal and offers both monetary support and manpower to improve the lot of our students. Let’s muse on how becoming a Super Bowl champion is analogous to accomplishing mastery of the 4Cs, as well as identify the programming in place at Joyner that offers support for all 5Cs.

1. Collaboration– In football, as in life, no team can reach the pinnacle of success with a sole star and no supporting cast. Accomplishment becomes difficult within a homogenous setting.  Diversity of experiences and talents makes for a stronger team. Odyssey of the Mind, for instance, is an initiative that’s heavily supported by our PTA. The program calls for a group of students to collaborate on a long term problem and to address a “spontaneous” or never-before-seen challenge in a competitive setting. A team that’s made up only of individuals capable of long-term planning is crushed just as much as a football team full of quarterbacks and no offensive linemen.

2. Creativity– In football, as in life, creativity keeps things fresh and inspired. Who knew that a “dab” would become a national phenomenon or that once upon a time, instant replay didn’t exist. According to Albert Einstein, “Creativity is intelligence having FUN.” The PTA supports not only Odyssey of the Mind, but also Science Olympiad, which is a series of events intended to integrate science and creative concepts. Children partner in challenges such as, “Super Sleuths,” “Science Sketchers,” and “Backyard Biologists.”  Let the games begin!

3. Communication– In football, as in life, lack of communication leads to lack of progress. Players must understand plays called and signals thrown. The PTA supports Battle of the Books, a competition in which students read a number of books from different genres. Different genres of books provide the ultimate exposure to the intricacies of communication and make for a stronger understanding of people and their worlds.

4. Critical Thinking– In football, as in life, an inability to engage in “forward” thinking tends to leave your team behind. One team must anticipate another’s plays, just as in business and science individuals must consider the needs of an ever evolving citizenry.  It’s now hard to imagine life sans Facebook and Twitter. Our PTA not only sponsors Science-Go-Round, our renowned experience of hands-on learning and demonstrations, but we also sustain cultural arts residencies throughout each school year. These experiences enrich our students’ thinking and make them stronger players for the future.
5.  Champion! As we’ve reflected upon these skills, I do hope that you’ll join me in my assessment that not only are the JYJ teachers and administration promoting the 4Cs, but also that the PTA is offering quality programming to nurture our students’ future success. Your support, whether monetarily or through manpower, makes this happen for our 21st century learners.
Let’s STILL Keep Pounding!!!

An Ode to Science Go Round

An Ode to Science Go Round

by Keisha Green, PTA President

Oh, the science we’ve seen on this journey today!

There have been owls, snakes, and lemurs at play.

Robots, recycling, and energy too,

Pig lungs and plantings and chemistry goo.

DNA treats and tons of tweets.

How amazed we’ve been on this journey of fun.

Round and Round to explore and to learn!

A round of applause is due to Elizabeth Altman, Hannah Boston, and their committee members on an awesome program today!  The students’ excitement was palpable.  What a huge job and well done!

President’s Musings | Balanced Foundation

From Keisha Green, PTA President

Now that we’ve approached the end of our fall fundraising season, my thoughts have shifted to a new Joyner entity, one I’d like to welcome. This is the inaugural year of JYJ’s new Foundation. You may be like me and somewhat perplexed by the concept of an elementary school foundation. Of course, I’m familiar with university endowments, but the idea of an elementary school effort originally baffled me. Yet after completing a bit of research, I discovered that the concept is not as new as I originally believed.

Before I share links to other school foundation websites, I’d like to enlighten you on distinctions between the PTA and the Foundation. We are TWO DIFFERENT organizations, and we have two different missions. Our boards are completely autonomous. We DO NOT share funding resources or bank accounts. We DO share human resources, including Joyner parents, teachers and staff- our only interchangeable assets. Our organizations balance each other’s missions to promote Joyner’s students receiving a quality education.


  • 501c3 Organization
  • Parent and Community driven organization
  • Funds Social Enrichment Opportunities, Academic Enrichment Events, Cultural Enrichment Opportunities, Funds Wellness Events and Teacher Appreciation Activities


  • 501c3 Organization
  • Parent and Community Driven Organization
  • Will fund or supplement Teachers’ salaries, Teacher Assistants, Teachers’ bonuses, and Enrichment Teachers

Hopefully, this list gives you more insight into what we do and why we do it. I’ve often said that it’s our mission to ensure that Joyner is our children’s “happy place,” and from what the Foundation has shared, it’s their mission to ensure that there are enough leaders to facilitate the “happy process” of learning.

As an International School with a global focus, we all realize the importance of our Spanish teachers and their contributions to our students’ learning. Last year, parents were greatly disheartened by the loss of beloved teachers along with diminished classroom instruction time for our youngest learners. This year, we’ve returned to daily instruction and larger class sizes. Of course, we want daily instruction for ALL students, and we also want minimal stress for ALL teachers.

Due to the generosity of 440 parents, grandparents, teachers, and staff, we collected nearly $23,000 during our fall fundraising drive. Your contributions allow us to continue to provide exceptional opportunities to our students, and I THANK each of you for your support. Soon, the Foundation will be ramping up their efforts and seeking your help as well.

Interested in seeing what other schools are doing, check out these links….