There so many great reasons to call Ponte Vedra Beach home. This quaint resort community is an absolute joy with amazing landscape and the beautiful beaches. Families, however, have the added incentive of the A-Rated St. Johns County schools that are consistently named best in the state. It takes a village though to raise our kids in a healthy environment that will help them thrive both socially and scholastically. Everyday there’s a Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) in each school looking out for the best interests of our younger generation with one person at the helm leading the way. Jen Webra, PTO President of Ocean Palms Elementary in Ponte Vedra Beach, leads the charge for the PTO to best serve the students, teacher and faculty of OPE. We caught up with Jen to find out more about her school and what’s coming up for Ocean Palms Elementary this year.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how/why you became involved in the PTO.
I’m a mom of two Ocean Palms Elementary Otters and one Landrum Lion. My husband and I moved to Ponte Vedra Beach in 2012 from the NYC area and fell in love with the area and community. I also loved the move to Florida because I grew up in Georgia and still have family and friends there. I initially got involved with the SAC organization at Ocean Palms but quickly jumped right into helping with the PTO after realizing how much the PTO does for the school and how much help they need. I also hoped my sales, marketing and working with nonprofits professional background would be helpful to the team.
What’s the most impressive thing about your school that you would like others to know?
Ocean Palms has always had a reputation for being a warm, loving and nurturing educational environment with high academic standards. With all of the changes and growth we’ve seen over the years, our amazing staff has been able to continue fostering that kind of environment for our children and families.
What areas would you consider for improvement?
I’d love to see more support for our staff through increased continuing educational opportunities and salary increases but those improvements are up to the District and not the PTO.
What can we do as a PTO to make our families feel like family and a real community?
I believe our PTO already does an amazing job of making OPE feel like a family and well connected community. All of our parents (PTO members or not) are always invited and encouraged to attend our PTO meetings. We also host several community events throughout the year to get our families together (Fall & Spring Family nights and our Cornhole Tournament are just a few examples). Our PTO Room Parent Volunteers communicate regularly with their class parents and host class parties where parents are invited to attend. Our PTO is a collaborative and wonderful group of parents that welcome any suggestions on ways we can improve – everyone has a voice at OPE.
Do you have a particular fundraising goal and area to use the money in mind this year for PTO dollars?
We are always raising funds for technology purchases to help boost our device to child ratio but we recently voted to use funds to replace a 26 year old playground structure that will be replaced early February 2023. We are also hoping to raise additional funds or find sponsors to help put in a Chipping & Putting Green to give children access to golf (a lifetime sport), create additional afterschool programs, provide additional training opportunities for those children hoping to compete at the middle and high school level and foster passion for the sport at a younger age.
What’s one thing a new parent in the community should know about your school?
Our Principal, Tiffany Cantwell, our staff and PTO Board/Committee Members want to make sure our children have a safe, loving, nurturing and appropriately challenging academic experience. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us.
If you could ask one thing of each parent at our school, what would it be?
We would love to have all parents support the PTO either through a membership (which doesn’t require any volunteering), supporting our fundraising efforts and/or volunteering their time to help with our events/initiatives.
I am grateful to have such a dedicated staff, PTO and parents that love our school and do so much to make it the amazing place it is!
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About the Author
Jenn Heller is the Operations Manager for The Volen Group, Keller Williams Luxury International, a top real estate team in Ponte Vedra Beach. Jenn has over 18 years experience in Real Estate in Ponte Vedra Beach, Jacksonville and the surrounding area, she is an Atlantic Beach resident via Long Island, NY since 1991, a book worm, and loves sports, dogs and the beach.