Katie Cruz-Lowe is PTA president at Adams Elementary, and she is reaching out to businesses to support art education.

The Adams Elementary School Parent Teacher Association has been recognized by the National PTA for its role in helping Adams become a school of excellence.

Adams is only one of 200 schools in the country to win the award, which was given in 2021. Certification, however, continues into 2023.

Katie Cruz-Lowe, Adams PTA president, said that the school had to apply for the distinction, and that over 1,000 other schools applied. She said that the school won the award for its communication with parents, critical thinking and decision-making, among other criteria.

“At the end of the school year you ... fill out a final survey explaining what you did over the course of the school year, if you met your goals, and if you didn’t meet your goals, how you changed and incorporated their four I’s, Cruz-Lowe told The Transcript.

“I think we won the school of excellence mainly because we focused on what the school of excellence is supposed to be about. They have the four I’s of family engagement that they focus on. They want you to be inclusive, individualized, integrated, and impactful.”

The award came at the end of the pandemic, which changed how schools approached conceptualizations of teaching. The Adams PTA had to figure out how parents could support students when they were not allowed in schools.

“It isn’t about doing the same things we do every year, but doing the things that work for your school and how you can change with the community around you,” she said. “We couldn’t get back to school because of COVID, but we were able to reach out to the community.”

Cruz-Lowe said that at Adams, the PTA is essential for school operations because the school isn’t adequately funded.

“We apply for grants all the time,” she said. “Especially in Adams, because we don’t have the socioeconomic base to bring in a lot of money.”

Last year, the PTA applied for a grant from the World Health Organization, and with the money, it funded a vaccine clinic for children.

“They were trying to set up vaccination clinics in areas. We got the grant, we applied for it,” Cruz-Lowe said. “We set up a vaccination clinic at Norman High as a free Covid shot. You come in, fill out the paperwork, get your vaccination card and we set up a store.”

With the grant money, the PTA acquired items that students could take home from Copelin’s. She said that the vaccination clinic is an example of how the PTA shifted from working in the classroom to community outreach.

“COVID changed everything. We had a PTA that we were growing, then we went to just a board, because we couldn’t get in the school,” Cruz-Lowe said We are looking to try to grow, and we are getting committees set up.”

Currently, the PTA is reaching out to local businesses to support programs, including bringing art class to Adams.

“The elementary schools in NPS don’t have an art teacher, and there isn’t a focus on art, which kids need,” she said. “A lot of the schools that have a more established PTA or have money brought into it have art teachers come into it.”

She also said that neighbors that don’t have students can still join the PTA, so long as they can pass a background check.

“If they have resources to share, or want to read to a kid, we’d love to have their support,” she said.

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