•  Volunteering

     

    The benefits of helping a teacher in or out of a classroom setting can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your lifetime. Our community will help shape the future of our schools and we always appreciate a helping hand with the work that takes
    place day-to-day with our teachers and schools.

     

    Our volunteer scheduling system offers a variety of
    tasks for volunteers, including: field trips, classroom support, fundraisers, events and much more.     

     

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     Our Volunteer Stories

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     Lindsay Baldwin

    Windy Hill Middle School, Band Mom

    Technically I’m a stay at home mom but I’m just never at home *laughs* I’m here.

    At first it was just coming in and helping out with some small things, and then when [my daughter] moved up to a bigger instrument, I was here every single day dropping her off so I was like I may as well stay and help. So the hours just got longer and longer and by the end of last year and this year I’ve been in the band room almost every single day. So very frequently there are 12 hour days.

    When I graduated high school I wanted to be a music educator, and things happened at home so I enlisted in the Navy instead. And it kind of, well… it drastically changed my life and I didn’t get to do what I had originally planned on. Then 20 years later I had this volunteer opportunity. I took it so I could come back and do music.

    I love the beginner [band students] and their “aha” moments. They’re learning something new every day and it’s great. So aside from my daughter being in the program I get a lot out of it personally. In the arts everybody kind of becomes very close, you have to rely on each other. So a lot of students come to me and ask me how they can handle things at home and other things outside of music. So it’s just been good helping the students grow and become more mature people. And it’s something that happens almost daily here.

     

     v2

    Sarah Pham

    Minneola Charter Elementary, PTO Mom

    My daughter started Kindergarten last year so I started helping out as much as I could. Then this year I became the PTO president and really got involved. I work in the school store every morning.

    Every morning my Daughter and I get here about 15-20 minutes before school starts or before the school opens its doors and we set up the school store. I open up the school store at 8:00am and we always have long line of kids until about 8:30. Then we close up shop and I head home, count some box tops and usually work on emails and try to get things organized for upcoming events.

    My daughter thinks that it is super cool that I’m the PTO president. Like, she tells everyone. So having her proud of what I’m doing is great to me. We were driving one day and someone cut me off and she said “Don’t they know that it’s the PTO president in the car?” She’s super proud of that and I love that she’s not embarrassed that I’m here at school with her. I’m sure that’ll change eventually but I love that she’s proud of what I do at the school.

     

     v3

    Eunice “Mamalew” Lewis

    Lake Minneola High School, Volunteer

    I just saw a need and jumped in to help! Instead of spending thousands on prom decorations that get tossed ( not even re-cycled!) every year, by every school, Jen Lewis, prom coordinator and my daughter, asked if we could use our crafting skills and teach the kids to use throwaway stuff to recycle and use in a creative, fun way. I am not too proud to dumpster dive, pick up curbside throwaways, or beg for donations from local shops. It's amazing how much cooperation we get when we explain what we're doing!

    Because the crafts involve paint, hot glue guns, sawing, etc., we decided to move craft days from the school classroom to our house. So our home became craft central, then second-home to these kids, and party-central. My craft closet gets raided on a regular basis, not just for prom, but science projects, homework assignments, and even dorm rooms! I'm known as Mamalew, and these kids know I love them and they are always welcome at our house.

    So that's basically what I do! It's pretty much a year-round job, but I love it! I am 72-years-old and still hanging out with teenagers! How can you beat that?! I get my reward every time these teens come over, so I don't think I deserve an actual Award.A lot of Moms have decided to join in and share the fun too. It's a win-win. And for the kids with bad home environments, they know someone cares.

     

    v8

    Dr. Steven Tibbits

    Umatilla Elementary School, Volunteer

    I was trained as a school teacher and I used to teach 7th and 8th graders. I ended up leaving to become a Dean of students at a college for 22 years before I retire.

    I came to Florida in 2006. Many retirees try to find things to pass time and I found it in golf. Then I came to the conclusion that as you get older and worse, that it isn’t as rewarding. So I stumbled upon the opportunity to help with schools.

    I’ve been at Umatilla for 2 years last year with 4th graders this year with 3rd and I can say it’s life changing. It gets me up 2 days a week and gives me something to look forward to. People say ‘oh it’s wonderful that you volunteer’ but I get 10 times more from it than they do. The joy and love that children have when adults come to help led me this year to recruit 11 people from my community to go and volunteer at Umatilla. I just wanted to introduce them to the joy of the children.

    I work with two students who needed individual attention in reading. Last year I had some hip surgery and I was out most of the year. I came back near the end of the year to a stack of thank you cards that students wrote, not from the two boys that I was working with, but from everyone else in the classroom about how wonderful it was that I came and helped their friends. I said Oh my God, The caring that these kids have for each other, at least at Umatilla is unbelievable. The environment is incredibly positive. The kids are just so appreciative.

    If I could say one thing, if anybody looks at the website and thinks “what’s volunteering all about?” It’s for you to share the joy of these children being so excited that someone would take time to come in and help them in any way shape or form.

     

     v4

    Holly Sigler

    Cecil Gray Middle School, Volunteer

    I’m the secretary on the PTO I do all the fundraising stuff. I do a lot with the FFA [Future Farmers of America] here.

    The kids are what motivates me. We spend our 10 day vacation helping the kids at the fair. But we love to see the kids with their projects and see them win or maybe not win. But just to see that they were able to accomplish something. It’s great.

    One of our 4-H kids and it was her senior year, she had always shown pigs but for her senior year she wanted to show a steer.  So we went and looked around and she ended up purchasing a red steer from my friend. We took him to her house and he simply would not eat. So my husband and I offered for her to bring the steer to us and since I was home the majority of days, we would help her. She lived in the feed trough hand feeding her steer "Cupid", we tried many feeds and she was very dedicated to Cupid. She was here almost every day, washing, rinsing and body clipping her steer. She had never shown a cow before so we worked hard daily practicing showmanship. With guidance and dedication together Cupid made it into the Lake County Fair, won 1st in his class and she got called back in for showmanship.

    I think volunteers don’t ask for recognition but I think a lot of times they’re overlooked. So people don’t do it because they don’t have enough time or something like that but they don’t realize that the one hour or half an hour or just stuffing envelopes or anything at all it helps and they just don’t realize it. I just think that volunteers are people that don’t care to be recognized but they’re just behind the scenes and they do it because they want to do it. And that’s me.

    My childhood was not the greatest so I just feel that giving back is just… I know there’s a lot of kids that their parents can’t be there or maybe they don’t have that stability or structure at home. I just try to be that other person because I didn’t really have that at home. Until God tells me I can’t do it anymore, I’m doing it because I love it.

     

     v5

     

     Eugene Wells

    Leesburg Elementary, Volunteer

     

    I tutor in academic class of 4th and 5th grade boys. I started out teaching chess and ended up tutoring in math. This is my first year.

    I’m retired and time was beginning to lay a little heavy on my hands

    It’s been pretty good. It started out a little rough but they had to get used to me and things got a smoother.

    I get unmonetary satisfaction from this.

    I like what I’m doing and where I’m doing it. The teacher and I really get along well. I’m planning on coming back next year.

    If I could say anything to people thinking about volunteering “Please, God. We need you.” *laughing*

     

    v6
     

    Leah & Pat

    Oak Park Middle School, Volunteers

    Pat: We work on Fridays and we have the Silver Knight store. The kids earn Knight Dollars to come spend with us.

    Leah: We help with school pictures and with shots too.

    Pat: I bake 9 dozen brownies and I do it every year because it helps the kids be a little bit more excited to get a shot.

    Leah: [volunteering] was just a suggestion at first. And when we started 3 years ago there were a lot of other people. But that kind of dwindled down. Now we’re just THE volunteers.

    Leah: We have a couple of friends who are assistant managers at the Sheriff’s thrift store and she said why are y’all buying these stuffed animals? And Pat said well we use them as prizes for the Knight store. So they said well don’t buy anymore we’re going to start saving them for you. So we go down there every few weeks and get two or three bags. The looks on the kids’ faces when they see them. They just go crazy! They buy them for their brothers and sisters. It’s a soft touch thing. It’s amazing to see their reactions.

    Leah: The ESE Group is our favorite. They’re perfect!

    Pat: Yeah, they get so excited! We’ve got one little boy who loves red calculators. That’s what he wants. They’re sort of special.

    Pat: I work at Apple Mart too. I started after the first year and I love that too. I’ll volunteer as long as I can.

    Leah: If we could say something to the people it would be, don’t think you know what goes on at the schools. Come and see for yourself!

    Pat: That says it all.

     

    v6

    Pam Ritter

    Beverly Shores Elementary

    I love kids, I love helping kids, and my goal is just to be able to motivate one child to be what they can be. That’s what I want.

    I love being around the kids. I went to Walmart and I heard 5 kids from Beverly Shores yelling “Ms. Ritter Ms. Ritter or Ms. Pam Ms. Pam!” And it makes me feel so good that I’m making some kind of impression on them.

    There’s a student who was 3rd grade last year. I kind of took him under my wing. He’s now at another school but I still get a call once a week. We’ve taken him to Lego Land, I’ve bought his school supplies and couple things for school because his mom is a single Mom trying to raise 3 kids. It just makes me happy when he calls to tell me he’s got 142 AR points. Well last year it was hard getting him to read. And he tells me that now because he sees me read, he sees his sisters watching TV and he’ll sit with a book and he’ll look at the TV but he’ll read. That makes me so happy. His mom will call me and go “Your son wants to talk to you,” *laughs* He calls me Nana and my husband Gramps.

    If anybody’s got time even if it’s a half an hour a week. Volunteer at a school! It’ll be rewarding.

    v7

    Lisa Bozeman

    Leesburg Elementary, Volunteer

    When I arrive, my 1st priority is to say good morning to my friends because they are so excited to see me. After that, the day consists of helping with the students in small groups during math, literacy and reading. I wanted to volunteer in the classroom because I know how much the students need the extra help to be successful. There are some students who just need to have one-to-one or small group instruction to help them understand what is being taught. The most rewarding part of volunteering are the children. They are sweet, smart and eager to learn. It is so amazing to see them engage in learning. I want to be able to give students every opportunity to be successful.

    I have a lot of special memories. It makes me proud to see a struggling student move from a lower achieving group to the next higher group, participate in class discussions, help their peers and so much more. I would encourage someone to volunteer in a classroom for a week. I am sure spending time with the students, they would become inspired and want to continue volunteering. I hope to teach ESE next school year, but if not, I will be volunteering.

     

     v8