“As a music program booster, you are giving time and energy to something that not only benefits your child, but to those involved now and in years to come.”
An Interview with Outgoing Lafayette High School Band Booster President and AMP Member Beth Potter of Lexington, Kentucky
By Marc C. Whitt
Please share with fellow AMP members a bit about yourself, Beth.
My children participated in the Lafayette Band Program from 2007 to 2016. Prior to my oldest child’s first year in band, the Lafayette Band Association (LBA) hosted an orientation session for new parents. Several Board members shared organizational information and personal stories about their family’s experience with the Band family.
They encouraged new parents to get involved and volunteer. Given my outgoing personality, I decided to work with fundraising and volunteered to coordinate the annual raffle. I enjoyed it so much that I was recruited to serve as Vice-President of Fundraising the following year. I served in this role for three years, which is the term limitation stipulated by LBA bylaws.
Since my youngest child participated in marching band as an 8th grade student, I had the opportunity to continue to assist with Board activities year-round. The following year, I was recruited to serve as President of the organization, and served in that role for three years.
As you complete your band booster experience, what thoughts and memories stand out most for you?
The Lafayette Band Association has provided many incredible opportunities for my family and me, but two specific things have meant more than words can adequately express.
Being involved in LBA has allowed me to spend time with my high-school age children and their peers.
My children and I knew 200-plus students before their first day of class in high school. This was only complemented by the opportunity to know many of these students’ families. We have developed lifelong friendships by working side-by-side to support the day-to-day operations of a music education program.
As our final year in the program comes to an end, I have come to realize that these friends are really more like family. We can count on each other for so much more than help with band events and activities. The memories I have made with these students and their families are priceless.
During your tenure as booster president, what goals did you set for yourself and for the boosters organization? What, do you believe, were your greatest triumphs?
I personally wanted to build on the legacy of leaders that came before me by promoting the LBA mission and vision, preserving traditions on which our organization is built, establishing and maintaining relationships with others, while serving the teachers, staff, students, families, and community.
My role was to ensure that every parent knew that LBA values what they have to offer the organization.
There is a place for every skill and talent, and no amount of time is too short. I was to serve alongside a group of elected parents to increase organizational effectiveness, diversify funding sources to ensure fiscal security, build a larger and stronger volunteer base, and advocate for arts education in our school district, throughout the community, and state. I believe the greatest triumph of LBA was and is the assurance that every child who wants to participate in the Lafayette Band will receive the full experience, regardless of their family’s ability or willingness to pay and/or volunteer.
Despite financial difficulties faced by society and our organization during the past nine years, every child has received an extraordinary music education with experiences that have significantly influenced and enhanced their lives.
Does Lafayette have a leadership succession plan whenever seasoned professionals like you move on as your child graduates? Please elaborate.
It is the intention of the Board to identify potential leaders each year who will shadow experienced parents in their leadership role. This allows for hands-on training and coaching from people who have done the job.
New parents have the opportunity to identify where their skills can be maximized in the organizational structure. The band association is most efficient when the human and fiscal resources are in place and operating seamlessly to allow teachers to focus on educating the students.
What counsel would you give first-year parents?
Get involved! Learn as much as possible about the organization by attending meetings, reading communications, and meeting other parents.
This time of your child's life will pass quickly and this is one avenue that parents can remain engaged in their lives. Understand your school district's position on music education - attend school board meetings and identify how resources are allocated to support the arts. Arm yourself with language and information to be an effective advocate for your student and their program.
What counsel would you give incoming booster officers?
Learn as much as possible from your predecessor about how your particular role fits in with the larger organization.
Develop an "elevator speech" about the mission and vision of your particular program and use that information to connect with other parents. Show appreciation for parents who choose to give their time and energy to be part of the team.
As a booster officer, you are an extension of leadership for your organization and must present yourself in a manner that reflects well on the program. Be patient with each other - volunteer work is rewarding, but can also bring challenges. Recognize and acknowledge that everyone is there for a common goal and that collaboration is key for success.
What additional thoughts, Beth, would you like to add?
Have fun! As a music program booster, you are giving time and energy to something that not only benefits your child, but to those involved now and in years to come.
Kurek Ashley said: "The quality of your life will be determined by the quality of your contribution. When you work to improve the lives of others, your life improves automatically."
This has most certainly been my experience with the Lafayette Band Association and I am and will remain eternally grateful.