PTA’s roots are from Bedford

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By Nicole Sheppard
Historian Virginia PTA

    How exciting that the PTA at Bedford Primary was one of 45 units across the nation and one of six local units in Virginia to win a $1000 grant from the National PTA as it honored the 115th anniversary of the founding.  The National Congress of Parents and Teachers (the National PTA) was founded in February 1897.  The National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers was founded in Georgia in 1926.
    The Virginia Congress of Parents and Teachers was chartered in Roanoke in April 1921.  However, I have found documentation that the very first PTA in the state was founded in Bedford in October 1913.  Unfortunately I haven’t found any other references to this school. On the index card from the Virginia PTA office the Community League (early PTAs) was named Bedford City S. + City.  Membership dues was $2.00 and the early membership was 80 in 1919 and 70 in 1924.  I’m also finding very little information on the ‘Negro’ schools.  I wonder if any schools in the Bedford area were associated with the NCCPT.  I hope some readers of the Bedford Bulletin might have more answers and can let me know about these early leaders.  I can be contacted via email at historian@vapta.org.
    Mrs. Geo. P. Parker was President from 1919 – 1923 (she was also the Treasurer in 1919)(Jeter Hill)
    Mrs. N.D. Hawkins was Vice President in 1919 (N. Bridge Street)
    Miss Florence Board was Secretary from 1919-1920 (N. Bridge Street)
    Mrs. F.A. Thomas was Vice President in 1920
    Mrs. A. G. Shipley was Treasurer in 1920
    J.L. Borden was Vice President from 1921 – 1924
    Mrs. Claude Harrison was Secretary in 1921
    Miss Elizabeth Reed was Treasurer in 1921
    Bessie Coppidge was Treasurer from 1922-1924
    Miss Willonna Walker was Secretary in 1923
    Mrs. Harry G. Rhett was President in 1924
    Mrs. E.L. Johnson was Secretary from 1924-1926
    Early Community Leagues reported to the state office annual activities via specific work done by committees: Educational, Health, Highways, Agriculture, Civic and Moral, Social and Recreational.  Included for this unit between 1919 and 1926.
    1920 – bought stage scenery $123.50
    1922 – put hot lunch room in the school and operated it successfully
    1922 – placed $300 worth of playground equipment on school grounds
    1924 – planted shrubbery and placed curbing on school grounds