Summer retreats connect Peabody moms

By Ginger Spickler

For the record, Peabody’s dads are some of our best and most faithful volunteers, so the two “Peabody Moms Summer Retreats” that were held in June and July certainly weren’t meant to discount the contributions of dads at the school. But sometimes, girls just gotta have fun! So, with the intent of strengthening social bonds, sharing the common dreams we have for all our kids, and putting our talents to work for the school, a diverse group of almost twenty moms (and a grandmother!) participated in the retreats.

For the first session in June, a dozen moms gathered at my house on a Friday night, and over dessert and some of my famous vodka-ginger lemonade, spent more than two hours dreaming big dreams. PTA Co-President Mandy Grisham led the group in a brainstorming exercise that was designed to help us think about the things we want for our kids’ educations, and also how we, as parents, can most effectively help the school’s professionals.

Some common themes that came out of the session were a desire for a challenging curriculum that allows learners of all different levels to proceed at their own pace and for opportunities for our kids to be creative, think critically, appreciate their diverse community, and become aware and concerned about local and global issues. Underlying all of these hopes was a desire to see these things not only for our own children, but for every student at the school.

With these dreams for Peabody’s kids in mind, we talked about specific ways that we could help them come true. Hundreds of sticky notes and a few glasses of grown-up lemonade later, we called it an evening and agreed to meet again in July to get to work on all the great ideas.

In preparation for the July meeting we divided up all of the tasks into teams and sent out a message to all the moms to be thinking about which team would best suit their talents and interests. Consequently, when fifteen of us gathered for brunch on a July Saturday morning at Mandy’s house, we spent a few minutes chatting and catching up, but then broke up into teams and got straight down to the business of making plans for the coming school year. Later we reconvened in the living room to hear from each team about some things that they plan to get started on right away.

The Academic team was excited about using PTA funds and volunteers to help both struggling and advanced readers.
The Community and Parent Engagement team has plans (both high- and low-tech) to enhance communications with the greater Peabody community.

In addition to planning the traditional fundraising events like the Silent Auction and Chili Cook-Off, the Fundraising team will be having numerous restaurant nights throughout the year, in conjunction with local businesses like Central BBQ and Ching’s Wings, both of which are owned by Peabody parents, but also at Chick-fil-A and Domino’s. Peabody T-shirts and bumper stickers are also in the works.

The Staff Support team will be creating a teacher wish list book and will be recruiting room parents who will help individual teachers with things like class parties and field trips.

The Membership team is not only developing recruiting incentives, but will be working to plug new PTA members into these various committees at the start of the year so that supporting our school is truly a community-wide endeavor. And when we say community, we mean it! PTA membership is open to anyone, not just parents and teachers, who wants to see Peabody Elementary become the pride and joy of Cooper-Young. Your $10 membership fee will make you an investor in this great institution at the heart of our neighborhood. Contact Angela Bates at to join.

New Peabody mom Felisa Jackson, whose husband stood in the open enrollment line for 16 hours to get their son into the school, echoed the sentiments of many others who participated in the retreats when she emailed Mandy after the second session saying, “It was overwhelmingly awesome today. Although I already have a child in the school system and am very actively involved, I’ve never really been this informed. I’m so excited about this coming school year!”
And it even seems that the Peabody dads weren’t content to wait for an invitation to join the moms. Charlie Land and Josh Spickler are working to reenergize the school’s chapter of Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students). This group mobilizes male members of the community to keep the school safe and provide positive male role models. Anyone interested in participating can contact Josh at

You can follow the “Friends of Peabody” page on Facebook or @PeabodyFriends on Twitter to keep track of all the great things going on at Peabody Elementary School!

Author: LampLighter

The voice of Cooper-Young, a vibrant, diverse neighborhood to live, work and play, in the heart of Midtown Memphis, Tennessee.

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