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Around Our Town...Outstanding Educators

Help support your child's school by becoming a parent volunteer

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01/01/2006 - by Jennifer Sardam

If you've not yet decided on your New Year's resolution, how about making one to get more involved in your child's education by becoming a parent volunteer?

Most schools don't exist on their paid staff alone. Parent volunteers and others regularly donate their time and talents to assist with everything from the simplest task of serving lunches to the technical involvement of building web sites.

Nicole Nelson-Pigg, a stay-at-home mom, and her husband Rhett Pigg, the area sales manager for KF Industries, began volunteering four years ago at their children's school in Oklahoma. Together, they contribute a total of about 10 hours a week to their children's current school, Fort Caspar Academy. Rhett helps with lunches while Nicole volunteers in classrooms and helps in preparation for class parties and other activities.

Teachers need help, says Nicole. They're with the kids every day, and they're a huge influence on them.

Nicole added that even a parent who doesn't have a lot of time to spare can assist in other ways. She says that teachers sometimes pay out-of-pocket to provide for classroom projects and can always use basic supplies. It really doesn't amount to much money, she says, but it is a lot of money taken out of a short budget [when] you're providing for 24 kids in your classroom.

Doug Tunison, manager at the Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center, does his part every other Friday at Woods Learning Center, where his kids Axel, 7, and Abe, 9, attend. Parents who enroll their children at the center are required to provide at least 10 hours of service each semester; but Doug goes the extra mile.

He helps teachers with whatever their needs are, from routinely administering spelling tests and filing papers to listening to students as they read. But in addition, Doug has the extra responsibility to build and maintain the school's Web site, which requires eight hours for setup and two to three hours maintenance each month.

I usually put in more than the required time, because I like to be involved with the kids' education, says Doug. "The teachers are overloaded — they need support. And supporting the teachers makes for better schools [and] a higher quality education for the students, with no additional cost to the school district."

Parents' volunteerism provides just as many advantages to parents, children and the community as a whole.

Doug believes that closer involvement with students influences their attitudes about school and motivates them to perform better.

It's a good way to get involved in your child's life, says Nicole. "I think it probably does more for me, because I get involved in their lives, get to know their friends, and get to know the adults [in their lives]. When you do that and watch out for children and make sure they're safe, I think your community is better, because they're not doing drugs or getting out of line."

Parents, retirees or anyone who wants to assist in lightening the workload at their local school can volunteer. All it usually takes is a phone call to find out the school's needs.

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