Brown, president of the school’s Parent Teacher Student Association, was first notified in an email that her efforts to get more parents involved in the school and in their children’s education were being recognized at a national level.
“I was overcome with joy — tears were flowing,” said Brown, who will accept the honor on behalf of the PTSA’s six-member board. “It’s a huge recognition for all the work we’ve done, battles we’ve won, and a big deal for all the parents of the South End of Seattle.”
Last year Rainier Beach was ranked as one of the state’s lowest achieving schools by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction..
Brown said she started working with the school’s PTSA three years ago when her youngest child transferred there as a sophomore. Before long she was spending 20 to 30 hours a week of advocating to improve the school’s academic offerings, funding, reputation and parent engagement.
The trip to D.C. with PTSA vice president Rita Green and secretary LaCretiah Claytor won’t just be for celebration, though. “We’ll definitely be networking and getting our names out there even more,” Brown said. “We want to find common ground and common goals with people we can learn from.”
Green said there are currently about 40 parents in the PTSA, and the six board members could use a lot more consistent support.
“I feel great about this honor because I feel the attention is what’s going to draw parents to say, ‘Wow — I need to step up,'” Green said.
Eleven other PTA members from across the country will also be honored Friday.
Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, said in a statement that the honorees “have collaborated with school administrators and community leaders, launched innovative advocacy campaigns, and worked tirelessly to grow their local PTAs to involve more parents in their children’s education.”