GREENVILLE — What started as an effort to get more involved in her daughter’s school has morphed into a full-time passion for Ann Harvey, president of the Baldwin Heights Elementary Parent Teacher Organization.
It began when Harvey was told by her daughter Grace a lack of funding meant she and her fellow students had to miss out on a field trip.
“I asked, ‘Why isn’t there funding?’ So I started to go to PTO meetings,” Harvey said.
She began offering a helping hand and before she knew it she was PTO president.
The Baldwin Heights Elementary PTO has for years raised funds for the school, to go toward field trips, supplies and anything else it could provide for the elementary school.
In 2010, the PTO’s annual budget was around $8,000 … then came Harvey.
“She made an immediate impact at the school by raising more money for the school than has ever been raised in Baldwin Heights history that year,” said Baldwin Heights Principal Michael Walsh.
Harvey raised so much, the PTO budget for this school year is $22,000.
“She made a promise to raise as much money for the school as possible to give the students at Baldwin Heights every opportunity to be successful by making sure that teachers have the supplies they need in their classrooms,” Walsh said.
In the first year, Harvey decided to cut ties with the school’s catalog fundraiser, replacing it with a walk-a-thon, which is now entering its third year.
Typically, the catalog sales would bring in about $7,000 in funds, Harvey said. The first year of the walk-a-thon raised more than $20,000.
“It’s more than double what we made sending home a catalog with stuff nobody wanted,” said Harvey, who said she would rather all of the money go to benefit the students. “This way everything can go right back to the school.”
And the walk-a-thon hasn’t been her only success.
The school carnival, which Harvey moved to Friday night and expanded, went from raising around $5,000 per year to $10,000. The elementary’s Box Tops program, which provides 10 cents in funding for each box with the specialized logo printed on it, has gone from around $1,000 in funds raised in a year to an amount expected to exceed $8,000 this school year.
“Her leadership has made the Baldwin Heights PTO the most successful it has ever been,” Walsh said. “She is a volunteer and a servant leader. She is not paid by the schools and the only horse she has in the race is her fourth grade daughter. She works herself tirelessly for her daughter and for our entire Greenville community.”
Harvey said her hard work means a better experience for the students.
“Just because we’re able to make more money, we’re able to provide more for the school,” Harvey said. And in the last two-plus years, the PTO has helped purchase playground equipment, computers, iPads, the school’s studio, books and helped fund field trips.
In a time where funding for schools is on the decline instead of the opposite, Harvey said it’s important for groups like the PTO to do what they can.
“I get so frustrated with the education system, that they don’t get the funding they need,” she said. “It’s so frustrating as a mom to sit and say we can’t do something because there is no funding. We need to be more involved. We need to know what’s going on in the school and have a say.”
So nearly around the clock she plans the PTOs next big event.
“We’re in a small town, but we don’t need to have the funds of a small town,” she said.