Clinton PTA Elects New Officers, Honors Retiring Superintendent

final mtg morgan school jack cross june 2016By Lesia Winiarskyj, Staff Writer Harbor News, 06/15/16

At its June 7 meeting, the Clinton Parent Teacher Association elected its new officers for 2016-2018, honored outgoing PTA President Erica Gelven and Superintendent of Schools Jack Cross (who retires June 30), and said a final goodbye to The Morgan School, where the group held its last meeting of the academic year in the building’s Learning Commons. (The new Morgan School, located less than a mile north of the current campus, opens this summer.)

The PTA’s new slate of officers, whose terms begin July 1, are Valerie Nye, president; Laura Colebank, vice president; Catherine Staunton, secretary; Kathy Tessman, treasurer; Al Walker, communications chair; Maria Moran, programming chair; Andrea Reu and Wendy Scoppa, membership co-chairs; at-large members Meredith Adler and Heather Moore; and Shelby Auletta, who’s in charge of Reflections, a national arts competition in which Clinton Public Schools participate. (This year, four Clinton students made it into the statewide Reflections competition, with one placing at the national level.)

Outgoing PTA president Erica Gelven noted that when she assumed office in 2014, she made two things clear: “I’m over cost-per-pupil. And I’m over SBAC scores.”

She said the PTA’s focus—and, she hopes, the community’s as well—is on quality education, not necessarily standardized tests and other benchmarks.

“Your vision,” Gelven told Cross, “and your drive to make Clinton what it needs to be cannot be measured. It’s the kids’ faces when they make the trapeze in Project Adventure. It’s watching Sara become the genie in Aladdin Jr. It’s my 8th-grader getting ready for high school and not being afraid. It’s about those stories and what kids leave here with. We as a PTA are so grateful to you and so positive about where Clinton Public Schools are heading, because you put us on the right path.”

Cross, for his part, called Clinton “the most remarkable place I’ve ever worked,” adding that the PTA “has been a huge part of that.

“We have great kids—a tribute to the parents and families in the community,” Cross said.

Some of his most cherished interactions with Clinton students, he told PTA members, have been reading to kindergartners and conducting exit interviews with high school seniors, whom he always asks, “Who’s your favorite teacher?”

Cross revealed that students invariably describe men and women who are “all of the things that the PTA values: caring, knowledgeable, and passionate about what they teach.”

Six Years Old, 181 Members Strong

Formed in 2008, Clinton’s PTA is relatively new. In the last year alone, however, it has nearly doubled in size—from 100 members to 181.

“There is lots of change in the air for Clinton Public Schools,” said Reu, “and our PTA is a big part of it.”

She, too, credited Cross for much of the district’s progress. “Jack has been an amazing leader with a spot-on vision of what our potential is.”

Incoming President Nye acknowledged that Clinton PTA “is an organization still in its infancy, but it has such a solid foundation.”

Both Nye and Gelven emphasized that for many other PTAs, fundraising—the classic bake sale—is paramount.

“The great thing about our PTA, and what makes it so unique,” said Nye, “is that we have the benefit of already having the fundraising arms for our various schools—Friends of Eliot, Pierson, Joel,” which she said allows the PTA to focus on grassroots efforts, including facilitating collaboration between school administrators and parents; educating parents on issues ranging from childhood stress and resiliency to drug use and esteem-building among adolescents; and getting out the vote out on the education budget.

Cross was presented with a card, certificate, and gift from the PTA: a T-shirt emblazoned with the word “VOTE.”

Anyone interested in becoming involved with the PTA should visit

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