Aaron Page: Home Is Where the Heart Is
When Aaron Page said that last fall that he was going to take over as the new president of the Chester Elementary School PTO, he often got an unexpected and skeptical response.
“Some people would say, ‘Well, good luck with that,’” he recalls.
The skepticism, he reports, was unnecessary.
“It’s been exactly the opposite; fun and enjoyable. I want it to be fun, if not people won’t do it and I want someone to want to do it,” he says.
Though it is more common to have a female PTO president, particularly in the elementary years, that is not a consideration for Aaron.
“Times are changing and gender roles are changing for the better,” Aaron says.
The PTO has just sponsored a sale of T-shirts, sweat shirts, water bottles, and grocery bags designed by Chester Elementary parent Briana Jewszyn. Elementary school students voted on which of her four designs to use. The “merch,” as Aaron describes it, was on sale for two weeks and will be on sale again for two weeks in the beginning of April. The gear, which can be purchased through the elementary school PTO, is sized for both adults and children.
This year, given pandemic precautions, the PTO is holding its annual book sale from Monday to Friday, March 14 to 18 outside in the elementary school’s new outdoor classroom—”Awesome space,” Aaron says. The sale is open to the entire community and features books for both children as well as some young adult literature.
The PTO is also planning an event for adults only, a Spring Fling fundraiser dinner and dance at the Middlesex Yacht Club on Saturday, May 14.
“We’re looking forward to that because we’ve not been able to do things like that for two years,” Aaron says.
Aaron points out that working with families is not new for him. It is what he has done all his professional life. He taught 3rd grade in New York City, much of it as a head teacher, for some nine years. He has spent his summers as a camp director at both overnight and day camps in Connecticut and New York, most recently at Pequot Sherwood Day Camp, one of the summer programs run at the Incarnation Center in Deep River. He was also program director of the after-school program at Incarnation Center.
Since 2020, however, Aaron has had another position. He describes it as home CEO. His wife Leah coined the term. Leah is a teacher and reading specialist, currently the literacy supervisor for 3rd through 6th grades at Essex Elementary School.
“Home CEO is an important job, a job to do right, It’s about many different things: finance, transportation, nutrition; it is very fulfilling,” he says. “I always had a great time teaching, running camp, but I am having a great time doing this now.”
Still, sometimes he has had trouble making other people understand. Not too long ago he was making a doctor’s appointment and was asked about his job. He said he was home CEO, and the response indicated the person he was speaking with thought that meant he was doing a job at home that he had formerly done in an office. He explained again. He was home because home was his work; that was what he was in charge of.
He says one of the advantages of what he does now is the ability to make long-range plans for his two children, ages eight and five. He already has their summer camps and schedule worked out. Still, he also wanted spontaneity in their lives.
“I want them to have experiences—take risks, hang out with friends, try new things,” he says.
And he knows how complex parenting is.
“I’m not a parent who thinks he knows all the tricks,” he says.
Aaron grew up in Wallingford and graduated from St. Michael’s College in Vermont. He had a particular distinction at St. Michael’s; he believes he was the only Green Bay Packers fan on campus. Rooting for the Packers was an uncomfortable position in 1997 when Green Bay played the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. Whatever classmates said to him before the game, he was the one doing the talking when Green Bay won 35-21.
He is still a fan, wearing snow hat with the Packers green and yellow colors to a recent interview.
Aaron and several friends are planning an event at the moment that has nothing do with his PTO work, a combination ‘90s movie trivia contest along live music, also from the ‘90s, at the Pattaconk 1850 Bar and Grill on Monday, Feb. 28 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Trivia teams can have from one to four people. There will a total of 30 questions from 10 different movies. The suggested donation of $25 to play will go to local non-profit organizations. One of the evening’s organizers is using a 3-D printer to create an appropriate trophy for the winners along with a $50 gift certificate to local merchants.
Aaron says he relies on lists so he does not forget the many and varied activities that are his responsibilities as home CEO. What he has learned in the process is the same thing that many people with the myriad responsibilities for home and children have learned before him.
“I’ve learned how little time there is in a day,” he says.
To purchase Chester Elementary T-shirts at the beginning of April, visit www.bonfire.com/ces-t-shirts.
‘90s Movie Trivia Concert
Teams of one to four are invited to a ‘90s Movie Trivia Concert from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 28 at the Pattaconk 1850 Bar and Grill, Chester. A $25 donation suggested for teams up to 4 players will go to Chester nonprofits.