SPOTSWOOD, NJ - The Spotswood School District's Schoenly School, Appleby School and the Memorial Middle Schools were all tapped as National PTA Schools of Excellence earlier this week. The National PTA School of Excellence award is the highest honor a Parent Teacher Association can receive.

For Spotswood PTA President Melissa Hallerman, the PTA Board and the numerous parent and teacher volunteers, the endeavor is a labor of love. Hallerman has been involved in the Spotswood PTA for 10 years and has been the PTA president for the past two terms.

"We started the application process a year ago," Hallerman explained. "After completing a baseline survey in each school we were able to compile the data and see what areas we should focus on in Schoenly, Appleby and the Memorial Middle School. Then the real work began. With the joint commitment of our PTA Board along with our parent and teacher volunteers we were able to implement some new events and programs. None of this would have been possible without our phenomenal administrative team, who are so extremely supportive of our organization. We all worked together to welcome all families, communicate effectively, support student success and collaborate with the community. I am happy to say our PTA has successfully mastered these commitments."

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"I was honored to showcase our PTA on a national level," Hallerman continued. "I was hopeful one of our schools would win, but when I heard the news that not one, not two, but all three of our schools had won, I had tears of joy.  There are over 23,000 PTAs in the United States and for our little Spotswood PTA to be recognized as National PTA Schools of Excellence, it is beyond amazing."

The National Parent Teacher Association was founded in 1897 by Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst. At that time, women did not have the right to vote and were typically not involved in social activist movements. However, the pair moved on regardless and began a nationwide endeavor to help children. Today, it is the largest volunteer organization geared toward child advocacy in the United States.

The Spotswood PTA sponsors numerous events in all the Schoenly, Appleby and Memorial Schools including book fairs, ice cream socials, escape room excursions, holiday sales, dancing drop and go activities and more. During the past two years, the PTA has increased the number of events in Memorial, giving middle schoolers a chance to continue to enjoy activities they did in the earlier grades as well as those targeting the changing interests of tweens. The widely popular Spring Tricky Tray is a huge fundraiser for the organization and the Spotswood PTA funnels the proceeds right back to the teachers and students.

"This is not a final destination for us," Hallerman said of the prestigious award. "It is part of our journey. We can't wait for September to share with our parents and teachers what we have in store for this year. Every year our organization grows and becomes bigger and better. I am honored everyday to serve as the Spotswood PTA President. The Spotswood PTA has held a special place in my heart for the last 10 years."