BY AMBER RACH
As the director of the Office of Community Engagement for Virginia Beach City Public Schools, I get to witness firsthand the transformative impact partners and volunteers make in the lives of our students.
We are fortunate here in Virginia Beach to have a supportive and engaged community, eager to do its part to help our schools and classrooms. More than 23,000 individuals serve as volunteers in our schools each year. If that number is not mind-blowing enough, consider that those 23,000 volunteers gave approximately 334,000 hours of service, for which the Independent Sector Organization would estimate a value of more than $8 million.
Indeed, we have a true volunteering force in Virginia Beach City Public Schools. Yet, what I find most inspiring about this team of men and women who give their time is that they are so beautifully reflective of the diversity and strength of our school community.
We have volunteers from every walk of life from stay-at-home parents and retirees to enlisted officers and CEOs. Some volunteers we see each day, and some come along once a year. However, any amount of time given to our schools, no matter how short or how long, makes a difference in the work we do each and every day.
You might think to yourself, “Ok, but what does volunteering even look like in a school setting?”
Well, it’s the nearly 200 sailors who visited 20 elementary schools, stopping by an estimated 460 classrooms to read Dr. Seuss books and then hosting question-and-answer sessions about the U.S. Navy.
It’s folks like our 2018 Citywide Volunteer of the Year Gary Allen, who worked in the school’s learning garden at Seatack Elementary School An Achievable Dream Academy, helping to make sure the plants and students were thriving.
We also have partners in education, who volunteer in the classrooms and share real-world examples of the curriculum. Again, as an example, we have the Virginia Beach Schools Federal Credit Union that goes into schools and helps to teach financial literacy to classes.
Of course, volunteering is also part of the spirit and culture here in the school division. Elementary schools partner with their sister middle and high schools to create mentorship programs and provide the younger students with role models right in their community.
These examples merely scratch the surface of the enduring difference partners and volunteers make in the lives of VBCPS students. We are always open to hear new ways our community wants to partner with our schools.
Whether you are looking for a way to connect or have an idea to share, I would encourage you to contact us.
Reach the community engagement office via (757) 263-1936 or visit vbschools.com/volunteers for more information.
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