Throughout Utah more and more schools are relying on volunteers for the extra support that is needed to help children learn at the accelerated pace that is expected of them. Volunteers at Mountain Green Elementary have provided support in filling staffing gaps, providing reading and math support to students who need one-on-one or small group help, and strategic assistance in daily classroom routines. Our staff at MGE is sincerely thankful for the support our community gives to us.
I knew that MGE received many volunteer helpers, but after talking with teachers and totaling the hours provided to our school, I was amazed. At Mountain Green Elementary we have over 96 different volunteers each week providing nearly 87 hours of direct and indirect instruction to our students. This does not include the many hours the PTSO members provide to our school in support of our programs and daily routines.
Who are these volunteers? Parents, both moms and dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and at times brothers and sisters serve as volunteers to our students. We have volunteers that have no close relations in our school but still want to support the education program. Many of our students look forward each day for the help provided to them from these unselfish community members.
What makes a great volunteer? Someone who can spend a few minutes talking to students, listening to them, asking questions, and above all caring about what makes a kid tick is a great volunteer.
You don’t need a specialist degree to volunteer, just a small amount of time and a commitment to come on a regular basis.
For parents, grandparents, and others with a small amount of time, what volunteer roles in a school provide the most direct help to students? Kathy Hoover Dempsey, and associate professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University, says, “The idea that ‘My parent is at school, my parent cares about me, is so valuable to the child.” The word parent in this quote can be actual parents, grandparents, guardians, and anyone who the student knows and respects. Be where a child can see you. Of course the most instructive place is the classroom. As Dr. Dempsey continues about the vision from the child’s perspective, “the parent/volunteer is affirming that, a) you’re really important to me; b) that what goes on in school is important; and c) I get to see things we can talk about later.”
How do I become involved in the school classroom? Call the teacher and set up a meeting with him/her. Tell them the hours and days that you can come. Talk about the things you are comfortable in doing in the classroom. Perhaps there are things you can teach to the entire class. (art, science experiments, music, singing, PE, etc.) Tell your child about your plan so they can see the interest and caring you have for them and their education. Visit the classroom while it is in session so you know how it works. Participate with your child at recess.
Last, join your elementary PTSO. This parent-child-teacher organization is your connection to the child’s school, its teachers as a whole, and a way to provide you with a voice to be heard.
Thanks again to the many volunteers at MGES.