PTA Proudly Recognizes Founder’s Day Award Recipients in Video Tribute 

Congratulations to this year’s Founder’s Day Award recipients who are being recognized with this prestigious award for continuously going above and beyond for the school district and community, and selflessly volunteering their time again and again for the betterment of BH-BL.

Thank you to Jodi Reynolds & Jessica Fraioli (from Pashley Elementary School), Terry Koster & Melia Gordon (from Charlton Heights Elementary School) Kelly Farnum & Cathy Mele (from Stevens Elementary School), Colleen Wolff & Janis Pitkin (from O’Rourke Middle School), Kim Shell & Cheryl Bach (from BH-BL High School) and Healther Powell & Joan LaBuff (SEPTA).

In a “normal school year,” these outstanding individuals would be celebrated and honored at the Founder’s Day dinner held annually at Glens Sanders Mansion. However, since large in-person gatherings are still on hold, the PTA created a video to properly recognize and celebrate this year’s award recipients.

“The individuals receiving these very deserving awards and the work they’ve done truly represent the Burnt Hills Way,” says Superintendent Patrick McGrath. “We use that phrase often. It captures our district’s founders’ desire to create, and maintain, a school district that offers a high-quality education with lots of opportunities and programs for the students who live in our community…Everything we do at BH-BL stems from that desire to provide world class opportunities for local children. Our Founder’s Day award recipients are recognized for their part in this effort. They, too, are now a part of our district’s rich history.”

What is Founder’s Day?

You’ve likely heard the words “Founder’s Day” and seen the event’s dinner listed on the district’s printed calendar, but have you ever wondered: “What exactly is Founder’s Day?” To fully understand the significance and importance of Founder’s Day, you need a little background about the National PTA.

The National Parent Teacher Association was founded in 1897 as the National Congress of Mothers by Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst. They founded the organization when women did not have the right to vote and social activism was not popular. To their delight, however, on February 17, 1897, more than 2,000 people—mostly mothers, but also fathers, teachers, laborers and legislators—attended the first convocation of the National Congress of Mothers in Washington, D.C. (Twenty years later, 37 chartered state congresses existed.)

In 1926, Selena Sloan Butler formed the NCCPT to advocate for children, especially African American children in segregated communities.

Birney, Hearst, and Butler had a strong calling to work toward bettering the lives of every child in education, health, and safety. The two associations began holding their conventions in conjunction with one another and worked toward merging in all 50 states. On June 22, 1970, the two congresses signed a Declaration of Unification and officially became one association–the National PTA. The unification of the two congresses is an important part of National PTA’s history and the association’s continued efforts to serve and make a difference for every child.

Founders’ Day (February 17) has become an important day for PTAs. It’s the day when PTAs around the country recognize the organization’s first convocation and celebrate the legacy and work of the organization’s founders—Alice McLellan Birney, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, and Selena Sloan Butler. According to the National PTA website: “The founders represented women of imagination and courage. They had a simple idea—to improve the lives and future of all children. They understood the power of individual action, worked beyond the accepted barriers of their day, and took action to change the world for all children.” And that is why PTAs annually present individuals who are completely dedicated to their school community with the organization’s highest award.

BH-BL Founders’ Day History

What has been learned perusing BH-BL’s historical records is that presenting Founder’s Day awards dates back to at least 1939 when Miss Edith Livingston, a BH-BL teacher, was a recipient of the award. The next known award recipient was BH-BL teacher Miss Gertrude Rice in 1948. (See photo below.) It is speculated that the gap in years in recognizing others is due in large part to World War II. (Visit this webpage to view a list of ALL BH-BL’s Founder’s Day award recipients.)

Founder’s Day award recipients can be either volunteers or staff with the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Schools. They are recognized for their years of service and their notable dedication “above and beyond” the usual to the needs of local students and families.

If you would like to be a part of creating history at BH-BL, we encourage you to not only get involved in your child’s school PTA but to consider nominating others for this honorable award. Typically in November the PTAs begin seeking nominations–and now you know what Founder’s Day is all about.