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Southlake Style

A look at Southlake's PTO Parents

Nov 06, 2015 10:02AM ● By Dia

November is a time for giving back and giving thanks, but for the Southlake parents who vol- unteer tirelessly on Parent Teacher Organiza- tions (PTOs), giving back isn’t limited to the fall season; it’s a labor of love all year long. PTO parents invest countless hours in their communities and schools all for the benefit of children. We caught up with a few of these moms and dads to learn what drives them to get involved with the PTO.

Susan Berlew is a stay-at-home mom with two children who enjoys traveling, baking, playing tennis and spending as much time with her family as she can. Running a house and raising children certainly keeps Berlew on her toes, but for the past five years, she has carved out time to volunteer for the PTO at Carroll Elementary School (CES). 

When Berlew and her family moved to Southlake, she wanted be more involved in the community. She enjoyed it so much that she is starting her first year as PTO President for CES. “I initially decided to volunteer to meet people since we were new to the community,” Berlew says. “Now, I enjoy helping in my kids’ classes and supporting our teachers. As a bonus, I’ve met some great people and friends by getting involved.”

One of the perks of volunteering at CES is getting the in- side scoop about what is happening at the elementary school. It’s great for Berlew since both of her children are enrolled at CES — Jameson is in fourth grade and Bennett is in third grade. The best part? She gets to be there to contribute to the success of the events and help make sure all the children at CES have a good time.

“It is incredibly rewarding to volunteer at my kids’ school,” Ber- lew says. “They spend so much time there, and it’s important to support those excellent teachers who are helping shape our children. I feel fortunate to live in such a great community with wonderful schools. I enjoy contributing, even if it’s in a small way.”

Another stay-at-home mom loves volunteering for the PTO, but she does it at Rockenbaugh Elementary School. Diana Fanch- er loves to vacation, read a good book, and stay involved at Rock- enbaugh, where her daughter, Kate, is now a third-grade student. She first volunteered for the PTO when Kate was in kindergarten, and now she is starting her second year as Rockenbaugh Elemen- tary PTO President.

“Since I only have one child, volunteering in the PTO allows me to cross paths and become friends with parents of children in different grades and even at different schools,” says Fancher. “I also enjoy getting to know the administration and teachers who are molding the minds of my child’s generation.”

Fancher’s favorite part about volunteering is seeing the differ- ence volunteers make in teachers’ work lives. “A school’s PTO is one of the happiest places you could ever imagine volunteering. I love seeing the difference we make and how we can help with some day-to-day activities to free up time for teachers to focus on educating our little ones. Your efforts, whether volunteer- ing time or monetary donations, are greatly appreciated and do make a big difference.”

Dedication Through the Years

Stacy Saxton is no stranger to Southlake, and no stranger to vol- unteering either. Her family has been in Southlake since it only had a Dairy Queen — in other words, for 19 years.

Before leaving work to stay at home with her daughter, Au- drey, Saxton worked at Southwest Airlines for 16 years as a gate agent and then in the Ground Operations department where she settled baggage service claims and traveled throughout the coun- try doing quality control. Now Saxton enjoys traveling with her family, cooking and baking, writing, and World War II history.

This fall will be the start of Saxton’s tenth year serving on the Executive Board of PTO, where she is currently President of the PTO for both Carroll High School and Carroll Senior High, which both fall under the same umbrella. She started volunteering when Audrey was in second grade at Johnson Elementary, and now Audrey is a junior at Carroll Senior High.

“I started volunteering because I have always enjoyed being involved,” Saxton says. “I love being in the middle of things and having a voice in my community. Volunteering at your child’s school is a wonderful way to know what is going on. This is im- portant because many parents know that kids start sharing less and less with their parents as they get older.”

Part of the importance of volunteering is setting a precedent for kids to follow. “My favorite quote is: ‘Don’t be part of the prob- lem, be part of the solution.’ I think that parents should be good examples to their kids by volunteering and letting our children know that you should volunteer because it is the right thing to do.”

Whether you are new to the community or have spent over a decade here, volunteering can be a great way to meet new people and give back to the schools. “I think there is a huge mispercep- tion about being involved with the PTO. I can promise that it is not a clique. All that is required is the desire to work for the bet- terment of your children,” says Saxton. 

Dads Love Being Involved, Too

No two volunteers at Southlake schools are exactly alike, and they certainly are not all moms; Southlake dads are just as active in their kids’ lives. The perfect example is Jeff Govek, who runs the Rockenbaugh Dad’s Club. Govek owns a consult- ing company that specializes in controls and automation, and remote monitoring of physical assets. When he is not at work, he loves spending time with his two children, eight-year-old Riley and six-year-old Christopher, road and mountain cycling, reading, and staying involved with Dad’s Club.

Dad’s Club is an easy way for dads to become more involved with their children’s education and to contribute to the school through raising money for projects or contributing their time. “Dad’s Club is a great way for me to become involved in Rocken- baugh and to help support the teachers and staff,” Govek says. “It is also a way for dads to get together and socialize, and to interact with other Rockenbaugh families.”

Govek enjoys all the events Dad’s Club gets to put on for par- ents and children of Rockenbaugh. Last year for Career Day at Rockenbaugh, the Dad’s Club hung collegiate flags down the length of the main hallway to encourage kids to think about col- lege. Recently they organized a Rough Riders baseball outing for Rockenbaugh families to hang out and get to know each other. This year, Dad’s Club is planning on growing the organization to allow them to contribute on a larger scale.

“The reward is in seeing a real, tangible impact on the success of the school and on the kids – especially the kids,” Govek says. “That is the ultimate goal of all of this: to raise

healthy, happy and successful children.”
The most important thing Govek thinks parents should

know is that Southlake schools have thrived because of the active participation of volunteers. “One of the things that make a school system successful is parental involvement. 

Whether through an organization such as the PTO or Dad’s Club or through individual initiative, the parents and the community have a huge impact on the school’s success,” he says. “No contri- bution of time, money or effort is too small. Southlake is proud of its schools, and rightly so. The community has done an amaz- ing job making CISD successful. It is the continued community involvement going forward that will ensure that CISD continues to excel.”

Without the dedication and participation of parent volun- teers in Southlake schools, children’s success would not be pos- sible. When it comes down to it, this is all that really matters.