The parent warned Angela Worley not to take the question the wrong way: What is a PTO?
Sometimes it is assumed that parents know about parent-teacher organizations and other activities relating to their local school, said Worley, the academic coordinator of student activities, family engagement and community outreach for Dayton Public Schools. That isn’t always the case.
Worley is doing her part by providing these needed explanations and showing that there is room for everyone to help however they are able.
“Everyone can play a part no matter what that looks like,” she said.
Part of Worley’s strength as an advocate for Dayton schoolchildren is her ability to be a liaison between the different groups who work with and care for students. As a former long-term substitute, she understands the struggles of teachers. And she knows the needs of parents, as the mother of 15-year-old Arielle, a freshman at Stivers School for the Arts, where she herself went to middle school.
“The parents are the experts when it comes to their children,” she said. “We have to work together.”
Worley was early on an involved parent at her daughter’s school, but she learned more after she became a substitute teacher while caring for her parents. She saw firsthand the differing opportunities and engagement within the district, and she began speaking out.
“When I got in there and saw the differences, I said, ‘We’ve got to fix this,’” said Worley, 46, who lives in Harrison Township and started her new position with the district last fall.
Among Worley’s accomplishments, she has recruited for PTOs, helped to create a superintendent-parent advisory council, presented financial literacy workshops and formed various collaborations and partnerships with others in the community.
Early this year, she worked with school student councils to organize a drive to collect hygiene items for displaced students in homeless shelters and elsewhere. Held on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, the drive collected thousands of soaps, gels, washcloths, deodorants, and more, plus backpacks to put them in and serve as pillows.
“That was the first time Dayton Public Schools had ever participated in the MLK Day of Service,” she said.
Worley is compassionate and caring, not just in her work with students but with her family too, said Phyllis J. Worley, a retired fifth grade teacher at Charity Adams Earley Girls Academy who nominated her daughter as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem.
“She’s a follower of Christ. She’s trying to emulate and pass that on,” said her mother, who also lives in Harrison Twp.
Angela was in her second year at United Theological Seminary working on a Master of Divinity degree when her mother was diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis. She withdrew to care for her mother, and as she was recuperating, her father began showing symptoms of what was later discovered to be ALS. She also helped care for him in the last years of his life.
Her mother sees the passion that Angela has for her job, as well as her willingness to help in whatever way she is called to do.
“She’s just an awesome, phenomenal women, and I’m so proud to be her mother,” she said.