Advocacy Afternoon smallThese webinars are designed to connect parents and staff with policy makers and specialists to share information about topics that impact our students and school communities AND provide an opportunity to share feedback directly to policy makers. Although these are webinars, you can also always just call in on your phone to listen to the presentation. 
We encourage you to share and advertise these webinars to your school community, as they are one of the many benefits of being a PTA member.
We are lining up more great speakers for July and early August to explore the unique challenges that face our latino communities and rural communities and ways that we can drive equity and opportunity for our students. If there is a topic you want to learn more about or a specific speaker you would love to hear from, please email your ideas to Vice President of Advocacy, Jenna Alexander ( ).
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(May 13, 2020 12:00pm & 7:00pm)

Join us for a recap of the 2020 General Assembly Session and a look at how the state and federal COVID-19 response has impacted education funding. We'll talk about how you can work with your local school board to support the students and families in your community.

Webinar Recording
2020-2021 General Assembly Watchlist




(June 10, 2020 12:00pm - 1:00pm)

Trauma informed schools are not new, and their success has been proven through extensive data. Learn what makes a school trauma informed, how it is more vital than ever before, and how to be a trauma informed schools advocate. Jenna White, Virginia PTA Health and Safety Chair, is the parent of a college age son and a middle schooler. Jenna is an ACE Interface certified presenter, and a member of the Safe and Sound Schools Leadership Council. 

(June 17, 2020 12:00pm - 1:00pm)

Frequent moves, family separations, making new friends and adjusting to new academic standards as a result of deployments can create unique challenges for our military students. Join Military Child Education Coalition's, Amanda Woodward, and PTA member and Military Family Education Advocate, Julie P. Shepard, to learn about the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MiC3); the programs the Virginia Department of Education provides for military families; recent Virginia legislation impacting military families and resources that are available for military families through Military Child Education Coalition.

(June 24, 2020 12:00pm - 1:00pm)

Join Betsy Bell, the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Programs Coordinator for the Department of Criminal Justice Services , Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety, and Martha Montgomery, the Virginia Department of Education School Psychology Specialist for a discussion about suicide prevention and ways we can support the mental health of our students as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

(July 8, 2020 12:00pm - 1:00pm)

Join Hank Millward the Virginia Department of Education's Director of the Office of Specialized Education Facilities and Family Engagement within the Department of Special Education and Student Services (SESS) for this special webinar to answer questions that families have about supporting special needs children during COVID-19. 

  • What special education services are required under federal and state special education laws and regulations;
  • How will my child's special education and related services be provided;
  • How do I effectively participate in my child's IEP meetings, especially if done through virtual means;
  • How can I best support my child while at home doing distance learning;
  • What questions should I be asking my child's IEP team?
  •  Review of current guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and the Virginia Department of Education, and best practice tips.

(July 22, 2020 12:00pm - 1:00pm)

Achieving equity in a remote learning environment requires intentional programs that ensure support for student populations who often already have reduced opportunities for academic success. In this special webinar Leah Dozier Walker, Director for Equity and Community Engagement at the Virginia Department of Education will share an update on work by Virginia's African American History Education Commission, the equity planning audits recommended for school re-opening and other work the Virginia Department of Education is undertaking to create improved learning opportunities for underserved groups including students of color, early learners, English Learners, students experiencing poverty and homelessness, and students with disabilities. 

Leah Dozier Walker has devoted her career to public service and social justice. Leah currently serves as the Director for Equity and Community Engagement at the Virginia Department of Education where she leads statewide efforts aimed at advancing education equity, closing the achievement gap, and decreasing disproportionality in student outcomes. Leah is a proud PTA member and mom to two daughters. 

Webinar Recording || pdf Powerpoint Slides (4.17 MB)

Additional Resources: Virginia PTA Position on Advancing Equity & Diversity || Virginia Department of Education Equity Audit || Register for #EquityVA Newsletter || #EdEquity Webinar Series



Advocacy Small

(August 5, 2020 12:00pm - 1:00pm)

Access to reliable Internet and in some cases, computer hardware, impacts the ability of students and teachers to participate in distance learning. The shift to distance learning to prevent the spread of COVID-19 makes closing the digital divide more urgent than ever. Join us to learn about progress, plans and challenges to connect rural and urban communities to high speed internet, the impact of state and federal funding and legislation on internet access and how you can help advocate to close the digital divide. 
Evan Feinman is Virginia's Chief Broadband Advisor and serves as a single point of contact for broadband issues, efforts, and initiatives to increase the availability and affordability of broadband throughout all regions of the Commonwealth.


(August 12, 2020 12:00pm - 1:00pm)

The pandemic has created new and unique changes for special education families. Join Lorraine Hightower for tips and tools that will help you be an effective and powerful advocate for your special needs student as you prepare for the 2020-2021 school year.

Lorraine is a certified dyslexia and special education advocate who works with families to support children of all ages. Through her personal outreach she continues to inform and influence local education leaders, legislators and community members on best practices for children with specific learning disabilities. She has been instrumental in affecting local policy and state legislation to improve the educational experience for special education students.Lorraine is a past chair and current member of the Loudoun County Special Education Advisory Committee and served on the Loudoun County School Board's Special Education Ad-hoc Committee which was tasked with addressing restraint and seclusion practices. Lorraine is a past PTA president for her son's elementary school and was recognized in 2016 as Virginia PTA's Child Advocate of the Year.

Webinar Recording || pdf Powerpoint Slides (4.26 MB)



(Thursday, August 27, 2020 7:00pm - 8:30pm)

Reunión de apoyo a las familias latinas, en el ayuntamiento (Town Hall)
(Jueves 27 de agosto 2020 de 7.00 p.m. a 8.30 p.m.)

Join Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, the Virginia PTA, and the Virginia Latino Advisory Board on August 27th from 7:00PM to 8:30PM for a virtual town hall discussion about the community of support and services available to help Virginia's Latinx community prepare for the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and upcoming school year. The town hall will be moderated by Secretary Qarni and simulcast in English and Spanish.  

Los invitamos a una reunión con el secretario de educación, el senior Atif Qarni, la PTA de Virginia, y Virginia Latino Advisory Board el 27 de agosto desde las 7.00 p.m. hasta las 8.30 p.m., para un ayuntamiento en línea, acerca de la comunidad de apoyo y servicios disponibles para ayudar a que la comunidad latina de Virginia se prepare para los desafíos de la pandemia de la Covid-19 y del año escolar que se aproxima. La reunión será dirigida por el secretario Qarni y transmitida simultáneamente en inglés y español.  

  • Paul Berry, Chair, Governor's Virginia Latino Advisory Board
  • Pamela Kestner, MSW Chief Deputy, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development
  • Dr. Sandy Curwood, Virginia Department of Education, Director of  the Office of School Nutrition Programs
  • Maribel Saimre, Virginia Department of Education, Director of Student Services
  • Dr. Jessica Costa, Virginia Department of Education, English Learner Specialist
  • Dr. Luciana de Oliveira,Virginia Commonwealth University, Associate Dean ofAcademic Affair
Town Hall Video and Resources for Latino Families