Labor Day is gone and with it summer 2013. Teachers and students are hunkering down to another busy school year. The purpose of this article is to describe specific ways citizens can help improve the learning process in our local schools
The first way is to volunteer to be a buddy reader for children who need to have an adult listen to them read and gently provide corrections. Or, maybe you would like to help youngsters improve their math skills. Many children do not have a parent at home that can help their child with math concepts. Contact any Walton County School for the required brief training session. The school will set you up with a teacher to help.
Most schools often need help in the library. This volunteer job could include shelving books, manning the desk or helping students find the right book. Ms. Meg Fette, librarian at Butler Elementary School, can use your help not only with the day-to-day running of the library, but also with the upcoming Scholastic Book Fair held just before Thanksgiving. (You could support that library by stopping by to purchase books from Nov. 12 to Nov. 21. Mark your calendars and come early.)
Mr. Charlie Marello, principal at Emerald Coast Middle School, said his librarian needs a volunteer daily from 1:15 to 2:15 to man the desk while the librarian teaches a class.
Another way you can provide teachers “time” is to volunteer to make copies of papers needed to teach children. If you can't come in to make copies maybe you can provide a ream of paper once a month. Or, some teachers just need help filing papers. Some volunteers at the elementary level like to help teachers create the bulletin boards for the classroom and halls. There is the chance to use your creative skills and improve education. Many of these boards are used to display children’s work thus providing an authentic audience for the children.
If you don't have time to volunteer in the school, there are other ways you can help. Teachers need books for their classroom that the school system does not provide for them. You can donate children's books you no longer need, purchase books, or purchase gift cards to be given to teachers so they can pick out the books they needs.
Every year there are many new teachers or teachers that are changing to new grade levels or subject areas. Research shows that the higher the grade level, the larger the range in reading level. Thus, the more books a teacher would need. Just think: if only one in 10 residents of Walton County gave gift cards to the school to get books, there would be plenty of books. To go along with that, if you have unwanted bookcases, ask schools first if they need them.
Most secretaries at each school know exactly what volunteer help is needed. You can call them and they will gladly help you find something to do that will help the school and fit your schedule. And business people volunteer regularly to be buddy readers. They come early before their businesses open. Look at your own schedule and make that call!
Phone numbers for Walton County Schools can be found at http://www.walton.k12.fl.us/schools/Default.aspx. Your help will make a positive difference at the school for the teachers and students.
Tommy Fairweather is a retired Walton County teacher and educational consultant who lives in Destin.