What school will look like in the fall is still uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic. President of the Parent and Teacher organization (PAT) at Jackson Prep Mamie Hollingsworth spoke with Sun staff writer Nikki Rowell about how the PAT has been and will be affected. Hollingsworth is a Prep graduate. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Mississippi before attending the University of Texas Southwestern for physical therapy school. Hollingsworth and her husband Jet live in Jackson with their three children.
How long have you served with the PAT? How long as the president?
“I just took over the job of PAT President this summer after serving last year as Vice President and several years prior to that on various committees.”
Tell me a bit about the function of the PAT at Prep. What do your responsibilities entail?
“The PAT is the Jackson Prep Parent and Teacher organization that serves as a support group for the school. It was formed to bring a closer relationship between parents and school so that parents and teachers can collaborate effectively in the education and training of students.”
How many members are there?
“All Prep parents are automatically members of the PAT.”
How many board members are there?
“We have over 100 parents serving in leadership positions within the PAT, as well as 10 members on the executive board.”
What do you do in your role as president?
“As President, I place and coordinate volunteers for all the various service positions within the PAT, including things such as teacher luncheons, all-parent meetings, prospective student support, grade-level parent support, and our biggest event, Party for Prep.”
What events does the PAT put on each year for fundraising?
“The PAT’s annual and only fundraiser, Party for Prep, raises money for numerous classroom and campus enhancements as well as the school’s teacher endowment fund and teacher appreciation events.
Each grade level will also host various events for the students such as back to school gatherings or class day celebrations.”
What is the PAT’s annual budget, and how much of it comes from fundraising?
“Our annual budget varies and is based on what we raise through Party for Prep ticket sales, live and silent auctions, and generous parent and community sponsors.”
What do these funds allow you guys to do at the school each year?
“These funds allow us to fulfill requests from a ‘Teacher Wish List’ at the end of each year, providing equipment and resources to support and enhance teachers and students in the classroom. They also allow us to show our parents’ support for teachers and staff with teacher luncheons and by providing snacks and treats in the lounges.”
How has coronavirus affected the PAT?
“This past school year many events were canceled for the safety of our families and teachers including Party for Prep and our end of the year Teacher and PAT Luncheons.”
Did it affect fundraising this past school year with the cancellation of Party for Prep? Do you expect it to affect the upcoming school year?
“Last year’s president, Whitney Andress, and her Party for Prep chairmen did an excellent job preparing for the event which was to be held in April at the Westin. They had already sold tickets and secured sponsors who generously continued their support in spite of having to cancel the event.
This year, we are again planning to host Party for Prep at the Westin in April. Currently, we are working and planning for a celebration without restrictions but will, of course, alter those plans as needed in order to comply with any guidelines.”
Do you think you will still be able to host events this upcoming school year?
“This year we do not plan to host any back to school parties for students. We are, however, able to provide a minimal-contact back to school teacher luncheon for our faculty and staff during their return to school meetings.
We hope to resume grade level events as venues reopen and restrictions on gatherings ease.”
Are there plans in place in case coronavirus prevents the events from happening, or is it still too early to tell?
“It is very difficult to predict which events will take place but we are planning for everything in hopes that they will. Our students and teachers are all looking forward to a return to in-person learning. For now that is our primary goal- getting and keeping our Prep Family back on campus.”
How do you guys plan to have parent meetings this fall? How did you manage that at the end of the 2019-20 school year?
“At the end of the school year, our all-parent meeting was canceled as it was to be held during the lockdown time period. Going forward, we hope to utilize our larger gathering spaces where parents can be distanced while hearing from our school leadership.”
Also, due to social distancing restrictions and other regulations due to COVID, how are you guys planning for the upcoming school year?
“The school administration is working diligently to provide for multiple scenarios with the goal of maximizing on-campus, in-person learning while also being able to transition smoothly into and out of remote-learning when necessary. New safety protocols will also be in place such as the use of masks and the completion of a daily health-screening questionnaire before a student or teacher is allowed to attend school.
We will follow the school’s lead on any PAT events.”