A love of being around kids and an extra hour a week is all it takes to make a difference at Kyrene de las Lomas Elementary and the school’s volunteer program could use all the extra help.
“There’s always a need for more volunteers,” said Karen McComish, who organizes the volunteer program. “I could put one in each classroom and wouldn’t that be great?”
McComish said right now she has 11 volunteers visiting the school on a weekly basis. The volunteers work directly with a teacher to determine their schedule and what subject they’ll help with but currently volunteers are helping on the playground, in the library, in kindergarten, and with various subjects in the older grades. It’s up to the volunteer to help where they can.
“I was interested in the problem with American kids math being so far behind the rest of the world,” said Bob Redpath, who has been volunteering at the school in a fifth grade class for three years. “It seemed important to do whatever I could to help with something.”
Redpath visits a classroom two or three times per week, depending on his schedule, stays for an hour and works with kids on a one-on-one basis going over quizzes or tests that students may have struggled with.
“It’s priceless,” said Dave Leonard, who teaches the fifth-grade class Redpath volunteers in. “I’m so thankful. He couldn’t be any better for the job. The kids like working with him. He knows math really well. I can show him the concept we’re working on and how I’ve been teaching the kids how to do it. Every year I have six to 10 kids who just need some extra support and I’ve really seen progress.”
The job is rewarding for Redpath who said he sees progress as well — sometimes instantly.
“I think it’s a great place to volunteer,” he said. “They’re very welcoming and accepting and they can use the help. The kids are by and large good kids. They’ve had a lot of time in the classroom before then and should be beginning to put things together for the most part. That can be confusing for some of them.”
The volunteers that come to Lomas aren’t teaching the students anything new, they’re just giving some students extra practice. McComish, a retired teacher, said she knows how valuable one-on-one time with an adult they don’t see often can be for the students.
“The kids would look forward to those visits with a smile on their faces,” she said. “I had one volunteer they all looked forward to seeing so I started, instead of sending only the ones who needed extra help, I let everyone work through some time with her. The bright ones didn’t take long, but they had the joy of being with her. I just know from the children the joy of spending five minutes or 15 with the volunteers, even on something they don’t do well.”
Volunteers at Lomas go through fingerprinting and background checks before McComish assigns them to a teacher. Kyrene de las Lomas Elementary is a Title 1 school. To volunteer, email McComish at email@example.com or call (480) 496-6943.
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or firstname.lastname@example.org.