Story by Rose O’Connor | Correspondent
For 92 years, the Trenton diocesan PTA has served Catholic schools and their families, and newly installed president Paula Pangilinan is enthusiastic to begin her two-year tenure at the helm.
Pangilinan, a parishioner of St. James Parish, Red Bank, has served as PTA president of the parish school and recently acted as Monmouth/Ocean regent. She has two children who attend Catholic schools in the Diocese: a daughter, Jane, who will be a senior in Red Bank Catholic High School, and a son, Oliver, who will enter his sophomore year at Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft.
“I am looking forward to working with our local PTA boards and help them create a strong succession plan for the future,” she said. “That is so important to me that each board is equipped to grow and become stronger.”
Also important to Pangilinan is the diocesan PTA constitution and bylaws.
“It really is an amazing document,” she offered. “It’s the culmination of a two-year process that Bishop [David M.] O’Connell [C.M.], JoAnn Tier, superintendent of Catholic Schools, and members of the diocesan PTA worked together to create. Ninety- nine percent of all questions that PTA boards encounter can be answered in that document.”
As president, she also hopes to introduce a retreat for PTA presidents and board members.
“At the conclusion, my hope is that PTA presidents walk away knowing they are part of a larger group, all working together to help our schools succeed, while still maintaining their individual school identities.”
Helping local PTAs serve their school communities is the true goal and purpose of the diocesan PTA board, she explained. “The PTA diocesan board serves our individual PTAs. We exist to help each school be the best they can be.”
“There are three main functions of the PTA: to raise funds for the school, to create opportunities for social interactions and to be of service to the local community. That’s a lot of work,” she added with a laugh.
Regents assist the diocesan president with the local PTA boards, too. As the new academic year begins, Whitney Lechner will function as the Monmouth/Ocean regent and Kerri Chewning of St. Paul School, Burlington, will act as Burlington/Mercer regent.
“I am looking forward to continuing [former Burlington/Mercer regent] Sharon Smith’s work in uniting the Burlington and Mercer Regions into one group. Having a larger network of ideas and assistance is very helpful and the true reason for uniting the regions,” Chewning said.
“It is my job to assist all the individual units within the Burlington-Mercer Region by providing information, insight and ideas into supporting all aspects of Catholic education and to help connect the individual units to ensure communication and further our collective goal of strengthening Catholic education in the Diocese of Trenton,” she continued.
Linda Anzano, whose term as president recently concluded, will remain on the board as vice president. She is planning the annual fall conference that will be held Sept. 30.
The conference will begin with Mass in St. Joseph Parish, Toms River, where Anzano is a parishioner, and a breakfast and business meeting will follow.
“The diocesan PTA fall conference is an historical event aimed at bringing together our schools’ PTAs for an informative, uplifting and spiritual start to the new school year,” Anzano explained.
She reflected on the theme of the conference and its implication for the Catholic schools in the Diocese.
“The theme ‘Enter the Journey’ invites members to enter the beautiful journey of our rich and vibrant PTA history and embrace our mission that is so vital to our Catholic schools,” she said.
Joining Pangilinan, Anzano, Lechner and Chewning will be Elsa Pagano, treasurer; Colleen Herbert, secretary; MaryBeth Consiglio, legislative; Donna Murray, hospitality, and Paul Signorelli, adviser.
Pangilinan said she is looking forward to working with the board and is eager to implement new and innovative ideas to including social media marketing to help schools fundraise, bring school communities together socially, help the greater community and share best practices.
“We’re here to support the schools,” she said. “We’re here to give them what they need and to help them succeed.”