These days, school volunteering is about more than cupcakes
Active parent volunteer Jenny Cutright works a full-time job in a neighboring town, has volunteered for her hometown fire department, and is a mother and wife, but she still takes time to devote her talents and energy at her son’s school.”I believe you get out of your school what you put into it,” said Cutright, who is serving again this year as the president of PIE, or Partners in Education, at Glenwood Springs Elementary. “I show my son that school is important to me by volunteering.”Donating time to public schools no longer means signing up for room mother duties for holiday parties and baking lots of cupcakes. Sure, there are still occasional opportunities to bake, if that is your calling, but today’s school volunteers are an integral part of the educational community. Volunteering at school can help parents get to know teachers and school leaders, make new friends with other parents or feel more connected to their child’s learning. Even if parents have demanding full-time jobs that do not allow time off during school hours, volunteer organizers and educators can coordinate volunteer jobs for other times. Working dads don’t have to feel left out, because there are always plenty of fun volunteer projects such as building a new sandbox for the preschool playground or running lights or sound during the school musical.”There is a place for everyone in a volunteer group,” Cutright said. “PIE offers a lot of things that you can do at home or in the school. We have people doing everything from slicing vegetables at home for the barbecue to putting up school display boards when the time is right for them.”Parents can help promote physical fitness by volunteering at the Challenge Course, belaying at a climbing wall or having fun at a school field day. Adults can go along on outdoor education classes, extended field trips or camping adventures. Volunteers with special interests can lead after-school classes, or others can read stories in the classroom.Education-based organizations such as the Pre-Collegiate Program, Computers for Kids or the Roaring Fork Public Education Foundation need volunteers and mentors. Parents can join school booster clubs to support athletics and academics or show up for a single day of work such as a beautification project on Earth Day.Kim Hamilton, a reading teacher who organizes the popular Power Lunch program at Crystal River Elementary, said she witnesses the mutual benefits of volunteerism in the schools. Hamilton coordinates adult readers who spend one lunch per school week reading with second-graders.”The kids feel special; they feel like there is an adult in the community who wants to have a date with them every week,” Hamilton said. “The volunteers see the excitement on the kids’ faces when they show up at their classrooms to pick them up for lunch.”To get involved at the level of volunteerism that fits you best, contact the front desk staff or principal at any of the elementary, middle or high schools in the Roaring Fork School District. Community members who are not associated with a particular school but who have special talents or presentations to offer, can sign up for a new districtwide volunteer list by contacting Cyndy Hallford at 384-6009 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Suzie Romig is RFSD public information officer.
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