Prescott Unified School District Expands Their Team of Excellence With Parent and Community Volunteers

Prescott, AZ | Submitted by Debbie Prieto

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There are papers to grade, lessons to plan, classrooms to organize, copies to make and teams to coach – teachers really have their hands full. And they welcome all the help they can get. That’s why Prescott Unified School District has instituted a formal volunteer program.

With more than 4,000 students spread over seven schools, there’s no shortage of things to do. And because the district aims to provide the skills that every child will need to become a strong citizen, valued employee, entrepreneur or leader, having a well-rounded education is critical.

The volunteering process begins with an online application. Once that has been reviewed and approved, volunteers undergo training, which consists of time and attendance, confidentiality, and student safety. From there, the volunteer is matched with a school and class that can benefit from their unique skills and expertise. The district works closely with teachers and principals to determine their needs and identify a way to contribute.

Volunteers offer a wide variety of assistance, ranging from event logistics and afterschool programs and clubs, to math and reading tutoring. Under guidance from teachers, they work with small groups and individuals, alike, to improve vocabulary, reading fluency, math skills and more. They can even go on field trips, help with the annual robotics competition, book fairs, and support extracurriculars, such as band camp and the visual and performing arts.

The program has been a great way to bring additional resources to the classroom, while assisting students who may need one-on-one help or support teachers and students with enrichment activities and class projects. Volunteers have proven that they are dependable and responsible, and understand the importance of their role in the school. In fact, the program has been so popular, that many new volunteers join after hearing about it from current volunteers.

And their results have had a big impact. After five years of hosting volunteers, Prescott Unified has benefitted from thousands of hours of work. The 800 volunteers in the database have logged more than 7,000 hours in the first semester of the 2016-17 school year, with 15,136 hours in the 2015-16 school year.

The recognized national value of an hour of volunteer time is $23.07 per hour.  The number of volunteer hours provided is equivalent to $349,188 of added value to the district, in one year alone. From an anecdotal perspective, teachers are extremely appreciative of the support they receive. Here’s what some of them have to say:

“As a teacher in a Pre-K classroom there is no better addition to a classroom than a dedicated volunteer. I have two very special volunteers that have become trusted adults and friends to our children. Both these women clearly love children and are motivated by this love to help every child.” (preschool teacher at Discovery Gardens)

“Teacher’s responsibilities are high these days! If it weren’t for my volunteers, I’d be staying at school late every day!  I don’t know what we’d do without them!” (first grade teacher at Lincoln School)

“I can tell you that the district volunteers make a big difference in my kindergarten classroom!  I have volunteers who work with small groups and one-on-one with children during our afternoon centers.  They make it possible for me to meet the needs of students with wide-ranging abilities.  The volunteers sit with the struggling students and help them to do the projects in little steps.  They also help by reading with the children one-on-one.   The children love to have the chance to read to the volunteers!” (kindergarten teacher at Abia Judd)

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