Outgoing PTA President Denise Hamberger. Photo by Kristi Rubio

Every year as summer comes to a close, a new school year is just beginning to blossom — many bodies, hands and minds working collectively for the future of the community within Cordova and beyond. One such entity is the Parent Teacher Association (PTA.)  

For the last 20 years Denise Hamberger — a community member and mother of seven — has served on the PTA, but announced recently she was stepping down. With her husband retiring, they have decided to move to be  closer to their many grandchildren in Utah.  

“The PTA is a fluid entity that works with what the community and school needs at the time,” Hamberger states. “It can be whatever you want it to be. As president, really you are just organizing a group of people. It is not as demanding as some might think.” 

And with this news, transitions  are now in place and the big question being asked is: Who will be the new PTA president?  

PTA presidents and members past 

Twenty-three years ago Hamberger moved to Cordova. Her eldest was in 2nd grade at the time.  

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Since then Hamberger has held various roles, from being a PTA member to then further involvement as a board member. Back then, the bylaws stated that positions were only to be held for a two-year duration, but it was quickly realized that this was not viable. People were simply switching roles, and finding PTA board members has been a constant need. 

Gay Dewberry-Hahn was the president previous to Hamberger, and the one who started the fall carnival — which has become quite the extravaganza — and of course  most importantly, another day for the kids to dote their Halloween costumes. Dewberry-Hahn had been in charge of a carnival in Salida, Colorado, where she’s from, and  wanted to do the same in Cordova, donating the funds to new playground equipment. During the process of looking at new equipment the idea of building a new playground came about. There were several grants that they could qualify for, but needed to be pursued by the PTA. She then restarted the PTA around 2005 and said it was a group effort from a lot of people to get it going again.  

Dewberry-Hahn says that it was a fun and welcoming time to be involved with the PTA, working toward a common goal that would benefit the kids.  

Noel Pallas, who was also a board member, led the fundraising for a Scholarship Program that is still in place today. Hamberger participated as a committee member on the Noel Pallas Scholarship Board, and became aware that a bit more structure could be placed in determining a candidate. Since then Hamberger has continued to build up and establish the Noel Pallas Scholarship, one of her biggest  accomplishments as acting president.  

PTA events generally cater to the younger kids, but the support is district-wide, encompassing both Mt. Eccles Elementary and Cordova Jr./Sr. High School. Walk to School Day, the Fall Carnival, the Bike Rodeo, the Spelling Bee and Teacher Appreciation Week are some of  the main events throughout the year that PTA is involved with. There is also a fund available for teachers if they need something beyond the school allotment, they can request a purchase from PTA funds.   

As the PTA moves into the future, Mt. Eccles Principal Dawn Gonzalez states that “collaboration” and partnership with the school district to plan events together and bring fresh ideas would be a key component.  

Gonzalez says that Hamberger has “been an asset to Cordova. She has been deeply involved in the community beyond PTA. She is an inspiration as well as her husband Mr. Hamberger. The whole family is going to be deeply missed.”  

Dewberry-Hahn stated that the PTA offered a bit of “constant” in the things they offered.  

“The more  involved you are, the more you know what is going on. Always leave things better than they were when you got there and make it matter that you were there,” said Dewberry-Hahn.   

The PTA holds monthly meetings that generally run August to April. To get involved with the PTA, contact [email protected]

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