Parent volunteers are the lifeblood of our school. It’s not a secret that we couldn’t do much of what we do without them.
Traditionally, we held our Volunteer Appreciation Tea on a shortened Wednesday at around 2pm. It was always disappointing to have so few parents able to join us to be thanked and appreciated. Last year we changed it up a bit. Our Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast happens during the school day. There is extra supervision on the playground while parents join a rotation of teachers and staff in the multi for breakfast, coffee, and many thanks.
What a difference! We had a least 50 parents (probably more) enjoying a modest breakfast and feeling good about the work they do for our school. A genuine show of gratitude.
At our weekly school-wide assembly, I consistently remind our students when parents are key to an event. This happens often. What do parents do?
- drive on field trips
- correct classwork
- lead art docent lessons
- chair fundraising events
- help teachers with paperwork
- sell ice cream
- check in homework
- read with students
- work with small groups
- stuff Friday Folders
- cut out materials
- clean watercolor trays
- supervise science experiments
- escort students to the office for band-aids, ice and TLC
- help with Westside Relays practice
- cook for special events
- collect donations
- organize dine-n-donates
- take pictures
- handle book orders
- shelve books in the library
- supervise computer lab activities
- provide tech support
- build our school & 6th grade yearbooks
- create a school calendar
- organize Movie Night
- build our directory
- cross kids safely
- keep traffic moving
- and there’s more! So much more!
I acknowledge that few schools have the kind of parent involvement we enjoy. And while my list of things parents do may seem very behind-the-scenes, the number of parents working in classrooms on a daily basis can range from 10-30 (and more) on any given day. When giving school tours, I consistently need to point out the teacher as distinguished from the many parent volunteers in the classrooms. It’s amazing.
And what if one day, no one volunteered? No one came to help with reading? No one came to sell ice cream? No one drove on field trips? Our school would be very different. Very.
Just recently I volunteered to co-chair our art show (long story). It’s an annual event coinciding with Open House. Our multi use room is transformed into a formal art gallery of black walls and easels hung with labeled student art of all mediums. It looks amazing! My co-chair and I gathered a crew of volunteers and I found myself on Tuesday evening working for a few hours hanging art. Our parent volunteers were chatting, working in teams or singly, talking summer camps, family trips and sports. My own restlessness had kicked in early on; hanging art is monotonous. The crew, however, was unfazed, and when it came time to leave, they wanted to stay and finish up. With a gentle but firm, “That’s it for tonight folks. I’m one tired mom, and I need to go home,” we shut and locked the doors, leaving the remaining tasks to the next day’s volunteer crew. This was the perfect cap to Volunteer Appreciation from last week. Thank a volunteer. Be a volunteer.
I can’t leave this post without acknowledging the parents who cannot be at school helping out. My evening art show crew was a small sampling of our full-time working folks. Can you spare an hour–yes, we can! But those after-hours opportunities are few and far between. We acknowledge these parents for things like homework help, reading with their student, healthy lunches and digging sweatshirts out of the lost-and-found, for getting to school on time, for returning field trip notes, and the myriad behind-the-scenes things parents do to support school every day.
I may have said this before but I find it a minor miracle every day that we pull off this thing call school. And it takes many hands and hearts to do it well.