Date: April 16, 2024

PA President “aan het woord” – my 2-year mandate is coming to an end

Back in September 2022 the long-standing PA President (Tina) approached me about joining the PA committee. We had been in touch regularly during the period when I helped the Alkmaar Gemeente bid to secure the right to have the European school located in Alkmaar (as opposed to Zaandam) by appearing in their promo film. Since Covid, the PA had not returned to its golden years and the downward trend of volunteers had not been reversed – so it was going to be an interesting challenge. In my first PAC meeting – it appeared there was only one role left in the committee - the President :O!

After the initial shock faded … I saw the President role as a chance to get to know other parents, to understand better the European school system, take a closer peak at the workings of the school that my daughter Emma (P3NL) is so happy at and have a positive impact to further improve its workings from the inside. I was voted in unanimously as President by the committee at the time - as no one else came forward – easiest role I have ever landed!

My first task was to figure out how to balance this volunteer role with my paid role as full-time teacher and member of the management team of a university programme in Amsterdam, during my biggest project to launch a new Master’s programme. By focusing on the big challenges and finding creative solutions - it was very doable in fact (despite the initial teething problems). Also, thankfully it was possible with the support of a group of enthusiastic volunteer committee members and lots of parents willing to pick up small tasks. My eyes have been opened since having engaged in hours and hours of meetings with the school stakeholders, with the OSG from Brussels and PAC committee meetings. I have learnt even more about effective meeting management in a multi-cultural context. I now appreciate how much flexibility ESB school has in a centralized European School system. I also realize how useful skills, such as creativity and collaboration, are in such a complex traditional environment. The biggest challenge initially was to re-address the many misconceptions about what the PA does – gone are the golden years of loads of volunteers running the canteen, events, and clubs.

It has been lovely to have been part of the solutions for the school – including; introducing a top quality intern (Arthur) to coordinate extra-curricular clubs; re-focusing on collaboration between the PA and school management; helping the school management to secure a caterer to open up the canteen again with parent members on the canteen committee; being part of the team who supported Helena and her events team to pull off a successful Euromarkt May 2023; creating a new version open AGM; running events for parents about the new school in Alkmaar; creating a collaboration between the ESB bus parent volunteer group (that runs the bus service between Amsterdam and Bergen); encouraging the decision by the EMA to compensate their employee/parents who volunteer for the PAC; ensuring sufficient news updates and articles for parents on the PA website – including BAC results; bringing on board 4 new parents into the PA committee; advocating for improvements to the school in the form of extra support teachers, clearer mobile policy, pupil and teacher wellbeing and extra focus on preparation for University and networking, all the while spending the PA money wisely – sponsoring pupil activities, community events and speakers.

It has also been wonderful to encourage and witness the tentative steps that the school has made over the last 2 years in terms of promoting itself to attract new pupils (even without any marketing communications head count). Now ESB boosts a Google rating of 4.1 out of 5, a yearly open day, linkedin.com page and 3 great videos - my personal favorite feel the rhythm of the school - on its YouTube channel showcasing the lovely vibe at the school. It is a school that pupils and parents can be proud of and want to spread the word about.

I still have a few fun initiatives to be involved in - recommending a long-term solution for ECA clubs and helping re-launch ESB link with avonds4daagse - however, my 2-year mandate will be over at the end of the school year June 2024. Then it will be time to pass the baton on to the next parent who wants to take on this fabulous challenge to further improve our kids’ school and for anyone who wants a learning and growth opportunity with a fun group of parents. Let me know if you are interested and want to chat. If I can do it - so can you. I am happy to spend my remaining few months getting you up to speed quickly.

Cheers, Claire – send me an email at esbpapresident@gmail.com

P.S. YES, I will continue paying my PA membership of € 25 when I am no longer President – in fact I can’t understand why parents wouldn’t pay this – when parents benefit even if they don’t realize.

It’s this simple … without this contribution ESB parents would have none of the following:

  1. class rep online meeting with school management via teams licence (€300 p/yr)
  2. representation in Brussels at Interparents (€ 2000 p/yr - for membership and travel costs)
  3. website with information and news (€1000 euros p/yr maintenance and hosting costs)
  4. intern/staff to run ECA/events (€6000 p/yr stipend – would be more if we employed someone)
  5. events with drinks, stands, entry (AGM, Christmas sing-along, Avonds4dagen – €500 p/yr)
  6. easy online payment system - bank account & webshop admin costs (€200 p/yr)
  7. ESB PE T-shirts and shorts for Primary PE (€2000 p/yr inventory)

We need a minimum of €4K for running costs – currently approx. 150 parents have a membership priced € 25 – income of €3750 (without Euromarkt and ECA).

Read more about what the PA does here:

Voice of the Parent Themes – Why a Parents Association (PA)? - European School Bergen Parents' association (europeanschool-parents.nl)

Annual Family membership - European School Bergen Parents' association (europeanschool-parents.nl)

Organisatie Oudervereniging van de Europese School te Bergen
KvK-nummer: 40634537
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