Meeting Notes – September 2019

Meeting Notes – September 2019

Horace Mann PTA meeting

September 16, 2019


  • Karla Lauerman Cummins, Nikki Mechelke, Amy Kortuem, Jackie Hippen, Marian Saksena Hatch, Melanie McMahon, Jim Litwin, Andy Streadsler, Aaron Litzenberg, Maya Missaghi, Allen Broderius, Mark Castillo, Kevin Dutcher, Ryan Tollgaard, Nic Seeley, K/Sauna Raimey, Nicole Brush, Delin Ferfon, Sarah Deming, Andrea Mackowiak, Meghan Feliciano, Celeste Kopaick, Kelly Axtell, Ann D’Amour, Terri Shefelbine, Laura Vander Wegen, Lisa Destabramlet, Meg Adson, Ellen Fee, Becky Mayer, Jill Mack, Brent Bartholemeux, Matt Ryg, Jen Sander, Ariel Dressler, Angus Morison, Kingston Hollman, Kami Hollman

Welcome and Introductions


  • Directory forms
    • If you opt in, then your contact information is in the directory, which lots of parents use to arrange playdates, connect with other families, etc.
  • PTA membership forms
    • You’re welcome to come to meetings, volunteer, etc. whether you join PTA or not. We’re members of the national PTA, which provides assistance with our organization, advocacy, etc. 
  • Volunteer forms
  • 5th grade Ambassador forms
  • Recent audit of activities – best practices is to have a 3 to 1 ratio of free events, service activities and family support to fundraising. The Horace Mann PTA is currently at a 4 to 1 ratio. 
  • 5th grade family exit survey – we surveyed families at the end of their time at Horace Mann to get feedback on how we can improve. Results will be shared at the next PTA meeting.
  • We have a new PTA website – check it out and thanks to Aaron Litzenburg for his work on all of it.

Budget and Treasurer’s Report

  • See handout for detailed budget from last year, and proposed budget for this year. 
    • The two biggest fundraisers of the year are the Read-a-Thon and the Silent Auction. 
    • There are other events on there that may bring in some funds but are treated as a net neutral and not intended as fundraisers (i.e. Make It Take It night).
    • There are also many free family activities for families that we do as community building events.
    • Each grade level  teacher gets funds every year to help with classroom set up, each grade gets funds for field trips, and specialists get classroom funds as well. These funds are really flexible so that teachers have lots of options and ability to use those funds however they think is best for their classroom.
  • Feel free to contact Jackie Hippen with any questions you may have about the budget.
  • Budget was moved, seconded and approved.

Teacher Representatives

  • Mr. Kevin Dutcher
    • The music specialist position is funded by the PTA.
    • See the handout for detailed year by year explanation of each year’s curriculum and how each grade’s lessons build on each other. Mr. Dutcher uses the Silver Burdett curriculum for a lot of the music selection for the younger grades.
    • Upper grades go through the ‘greatest songs’ and ‘history of music’.
    • Each year there is a music program in the spring where each grade gets to demonstrate songs that they’ve learned.

PTA Purposes and Goals

  • We’d love to hear from everyone on what they’d like to see from the PTA – how can we create an environment you’d love to come back to, what would interest you enough to get involved, etc. Notecards are provided for people to give feedback

New Business

  • PTA description of Committees and annual events
  • Leadership and volunteer opportunities
    • Board opening and board shadowing
    • Committee co-chairs

Principal’s Report

  • Thanked everyone for coming to this first meeting and encouraged people to come to the next meeting for some activities Mr. Litwin will have about our emerging bilingual students and families.
  • His theme for the year is connections – to make sure all families and all kids feel connected to the Horace Mann communities. 
  • One key way to make everyone feel welcome is to encourage connections in the classroom, greet each other every day, and to let everyone speak their truth and share their perspective. 

PTA/HM Committee Updates

  • Read a Thon
    • Becky Mayer – The kids make a goal for reading minutes during the Read a Thon and try and fundraise while meeting that goal. It’s one of the biggest school fundraisers, and it’s great that they set a reading goal at the beginning of the year to set the basis for good reading habits. 
    • Key dates for when they need volunteers to help:
      • September 26th they could use help to put together student packets. 
      • The week of October 28th is the end of the Read a Thon and each day that week they have some volunteers staff a table to collect the packets from students. 
      • The afternoon and evening of November 1st they do all of the counting, to determine rewards for kids based on how much they read and for the classroom that reads the most. 
  • Landscape Committee
    • Maya Missaghi – The Landscape Committee organizes a Fall and Spring Clean Up to keep our school grounds looking beautiful; we contribute one item to the school silent auction fundraiser. We work in tandem with the Plant Sale Committee in the Spring, and are always looking for fellow plant and flower enthusiasts to think up any new ideas or just enjoy encouraging a love of nature and taking care of our school! You do NOT need to be a gardening expert of any kind to join – just looking for a fun way to get involved in keeping Horace Mann a wonderful place for our kids to go every day! If interested, you can email Maya at or Eric at
  • Plant Sale
    • Maya Missaghi – Every Spring, a Plant Sale is organized as a fundraising event. We try to get delivery as close to Mother’s Day as weather permits, as this is a great gift idea. People look forward to this every year to get their gardens started and as a way to confirm that Spring is actually coming again!! 🙂 Help is needed for unloading the gorgeous plant orders the morning of and setting them all up on the school grounds for pick-up. It’s lots of fun and you’ll get to meet other Horace Mann parents while you help! Please email Maya at  if you’re interested!
  • Business Partnerships  
    • Karla Lauerman Cummins – The HM Business Partnership Committee provides access, opportunities, and recognition to our current and potential Business Partnerships.  In 2018-19 we had 3 nights of direct contributions (Davanni’s, Papa Murphy’s, Noodles & Company). This year we hope to increase our HM family and Community BP recognition and host 4 nights of direct contributions.   Requests/Input from attendee’s:  Anyone that wishes to join our committee  is very welcome and/or if you have any new ideas of BP opportunities or ways to thank our partners please let us know. and/or

Dates of importance:

  • Boo Bash Planning Meeting September 10 6:30-7:30 pm
  • Silent Auction Meeting September 19 6:30-8 pm
  • Landscape Committee Meeting  
  • HMS Fall BBQ September 20 10:30 am-12 pm
  • Sock Hop September 20  5-7 pm?
  • Read-a-thon Opening Ceremony September 27 9:00 am
  • Picture Day October 1 all day
  • Silent Auction Meeting October 7 6:30-8 pm
  • PTA Meeting October 10 6:30-7:30 pm
  • Landscape Committee Fall Clean-Up October 12 9:00 am-noon

PTA Board members:

Co-President-Nikki Mechlke

Co-President-Karla Lauerman Cummins

Treasurer-Jackie Hippen

Teacher Representative-Amy Kortuem

Communications Co-Chair-Marian Saksena Hatch

Communications Co-Chair-Laura Willson

Recording Secretary-Melanie McMahon

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