As part of American Education Week, the IEA celebrates Parents Day, Tuesday, November 17, 2016. This day is set aside for special recognition of parents and the incredibly important role that they play in the education of children, both in and out of the classroom.
“Time is the most valuable thing that parents can give their kids.” This statement pretty well sums up the outlook of Traci Sweet and the other parents who make up the Payette Booster Club, which supports the children of this small (7,430 in 2013) town northwest of Boise and just across the Snake River from Oregon.
Sweet grew up in Payette and has lived in her hometown for most of her life. She graduated from Payette High School and has seen her own three children (now ages 22, 20 and 15) work their way through the district school system as well. Recognizing a growing need to support students as funding for extra-curricular activities steadily decreased, she joined other parents in trying to maximize the impact of the Payette Booster Club. Sweet is currently in her sixth year with the booster club, her second as the club president.
Like many booster organizations, the Payette Booster Club supports school and community athletic programs, but in this community they have expanded the scope and reach of the club to help the science club and other academic-based groups. Many volunteer hours have been donated as the booster club raises money by hosting the concessions stands at football games, taking donations, and partnering with area businesses. “We really do rely on the support of the community, and in particular the generosity on local businesses,” Sweet says.
Among the major projects supported by the Payette Booster Club have been the building of a new sports complex at the middle school, a field trip to Yellowstone National Park for the science club, a coats for kids collection and a school supply drive. The boosters report back to the school board on their activities, and are appreciative of the backing that they have received from the board and from school administrators.
The efforts of Sweet and the booster club have been noticed and appreciated by classroom teachers in the district. This is what Lori Steiniker, a sixth grade teacher and president of the the Payette Education Association, had to say. “Traci and I worked together for years on many Booster activities–fundraising to build the new athletic facility, concessions at sporting events, Most Valuable Pirate award ceremonies–and I always found her to be upbeat and enthusiastic about helping our students. Every year she organizes a back to school community pep rally that recognizes every student who participates in a fall activity. It is a huge event and means so much to the students. The Payette School District would be in a world of hurt without the selfless contribution of her time, energy and creativity.”
You might think that being president of the local booster club would be enough on Sweet’s plate, but somehow she finds even more time and energy to contribute to students in the community. Sweet also coaches the Payette Middle School cheerleaders on a 100% volunteer basis, even helping to fundraise for uniforms so that kids who can’t afford to buy one can borrow one during the season. “I try to help them learn how to be leaders and conduct themselves in a positive manner,” she says about her role with the cheerleading squad.”
Traci Sweet and her compatriots in Payette are great examples of parents who “walk the walk, not just talk the talk”. Her own children, her extended family in the Payette community and the state of Idaho are the beneficiaries of her leadership and selflessness. We can all learn something from their example.