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Ossining PTSA President Thrives at Community Work

For Rachel Simon, being president of Ossining High School’s Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) propels her to be active in the community and to do things that are important for kids.

“It makes me feel like I’m doing meaningful work,” Simon said.

Simon has one daughter who is a freshman in Ossining High School, and another who is a first-year student at Hunter College in Manhattan. For the mother, the main point of being involved in the PTSA is to give scholarships to students. This year, the organization plans to give out about $1,500 in scholarships to three or four kids. The scholarships will help both kids who are going to college and kids who aren’t college bound.

The PTSA also supports a Drive Smart Night when various speakers including students, a police officer and a guidance counselor talk to kids about the responsibilities of driving.

“Last year there were over 100 kids who came which might not sound like much, but it was huge,” Simon said. “We’ve never had that amount of kids coming out, and the parents came too.”

Simon used to be an art director for children’s books. She then switched careers to become an elementary school teacher. About five years ago, she became unemployed, and it was hard for her to find a job again. When a past PTSA president asked her to become involved in the PTSA, she had the time and agreed to do it. She was on the board of the PTSA for one year before she became president.

As president, Simon met other community activists like Graig Galef, the son of state Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, who plans to run for the Board of Education for the 2011-2012 school year, and Alice Joselow, the head of Communities that Care, an organization that works with youth to help them not abuse drugs and alcohol.

“I really enjoy getting to know different people in the community that are working in various organizations,” Simon said. “For me, I ended up being active in other things because of (PTSA).”

Simon thinks Ossining High School is special because there are so many activities that kids can choose to do.

“If your kid is into sports, it’s just amazing, and then there’s the drama club and Advanced Placement classes are open to everyone,” she said. “There’s really great stuff that’s available, and there’s a lot of room for different people.

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