Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Schools and Volunteers

Bad economic news abounds these days, and recently I ran into several acquaintances who are out of work. They are smart, skilled people, and it made me wonder how the schools could put people like them to work.

Of course, many schools rely on volunteers, in the classroom and for fundraising, but it can be a little bit ad hoc. Many people volunteer in their kids' classrooms. And there is always the opportunity to volunteer at the PTO Thrift Shop, which is a great way to raise money for the schools. (To inquire about training, the schedule for upcoming sessions, or to register, please contact by email: and put “Volunteer Training” in the subject line.)

But--it's undoubtedly true that some of the schools in the district have plenty of volunteers (and yes, this does mostly fall along class/income lines) and others struggle with only a few volunteers (the parents are working). So, it seems like the unemployment crisis is also an opportunity for some awesome matches. What if you are an unemployed engineer without any kids in the schools?
Might there be a science teacher who would like some help setting up labs? What if you are a writer without any kids in the schools? Might there be a place for you to put your skills to work--in a classroom, or for central administration? What if you are an unemployed autoworker who is a highly skilled gardener? Might one of the schools with a garden (or one that wants to start one) want your skills?

Sure, there are lots of volunteer opportunities in our county. Any of these people would be welcome at 826Michigan or the Family Learning Institute, but why shouldn't AAPS grab them?

I know that some of my own best experiences have come a) as a volunteer and b) working with volunteers. I would love to see the district set up a short-term task force to identify ways to harness some of this energy and talent for the good of the kids, and then implement those ideas.

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