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  • Assistant Editor Zach Sparks presents Lauri Miller with her Volunteer of the Month award for her work with the Oak Hill Elementary PTO.
    Assistant Editor Zach Sparks presents Lauri Miller with her Volunteer of the Month award for her work with the Oak Hill Elementary PTO.

PTO Involvement Is A Way Of Life For Lauri Miller

Dylan Roche
View Bio
October 4, 2017

With her background as a teacher and then an educator in the private sector before staying home to raise her children, Lauri Miller understood the importance of parents who take an active role in helping out at school, so when her son Jimmy entered kindergarten at Oak Hill Elementary in 2009, Miller stepped up to volunteer with the parent teacher organization. “Having been employed in the school system, I knew I wanted to be invested in my kids’ education,” she said. “Parents were a huge support. I thought it would be nice to be that parent for a while.”

In the eight years since, Miller has become an active member of the PTO, eventually serving two years as first vice president and four years as president. This year, she’s serving the role of second vice president at Oak Hill, where her two younger sons are in fifth grade, while also maintaining a presence in the PTO at Severna Park Middle, where her oldest is now an eighth-grader.

Through PTO involvement, Miller and the other parents provide whatever assistance teachers might need above and beyond what the county supplies. Sometimes, that’s in the form of the latest technology that will enhance education, such as Chromebooks or iPads; other times, it might be covering costs for students whose parents are struggling financially, and ensuring those students can be involved with clubs, go on field trips or just have school supplies as any other child would.

The PTO also puts on events that bring the school community together so families can meet one another. “Being involved with the PTO, you meet people you wouldn’t otherwise meet,” Miller said. “I’ve made a lot of friendships. It’s been very rewarding.” Currently, the PTO is preparing for its annual outdoor movie night — set this year for October 8 — which draws about 800 people to Oak Hill’s campus to watch a film projected onto a giant inflatable screen.

Being involved with the PTO does come with its challenges. Miller explained that people might be surprised how many bylaws and regulations are required by such an organization. It can also be difficult to work around an already dizzying schedule at home. “We have families and jobs, but we make it work. We’re all in the same boat,” Miller said. “Everyone works well. We respect each other. Everyone has great ideas and we work well as part of a team.”

When she and her children aren’t at school, they can often be found at sports practice or music lessons. All three Miller boys play Green Hornets baseball, and Miller’s husband, Jim, has served as coach and assistant coach throughout the years.

Miller would encourage any parents who are on the fence about joining their child’s school’s PTO to just go ahead and do it. “There’s always something you can do to help,” she said, emphasizing that no amount of time is too small and there is much that can be done from home.

“I don’t have any regrets on anything I do,” Miller said. “One day, my kids will be out of the house and in college, and I’ll look back and be happy I was involved.”

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