In a conversation with community volunteers about United Way’s focus on education, we heard the following comments: “Kids aren’t my best group to work with”, “There is a reason I’m not a teacher” and “School years weren’t my happiest – what else can I do”. Realizing at the same time that school volunteer programs don’t always align with people’s availability, we figured that we could suggest ways to support education of children outside of the classroom.
1. Be a Teachers’ Pet
This is a portable project of Hands On Asheville-Buncombe, the volunteer center of United Way. People can do this on their own, with a group of friends or co-workers or on-site at Hands On. Volunteers create supplemental educational materials that are used both in and out of the classroom to help Asheville City and Buncombe County schools’ elementary students improve their basic academic skills with flashcards, games and other activities in reading and math. The materials have been designed by the curriculum coordinators of both school systems. Hands On provides the instructions and the materials; although some folks purchase the materials as part of their contribution. It can be a fun social time while providing valuable resources for classrooms. For more information, go to the Teacher's Pet page on Hands On's site
2. Sponsor a Classroom
In a year when budget cuts to education have resulted in classrooms doing without supplies or materials that make learning more exciting, consider adopting a classroom. Pick a school near you and make a call to ask for a classroom that needs some supplies. Talk to that teacher about what she/he needs to enhance the students’ learning and put together some materials. If you can’t provide the materials, provide funds to purchase what is needed. Invite your friends to join you. Find schools at Buncombe County Schools and Asheville City Schools.
3. Speak up in support of public education
If you believe that every child deserves access to a good education, lend your voice to the cause of strong public education. Get educated yourself on the challenges facing public schools. Communicate your opinions to elected officials. Talk to your friends and associates about what you have learned. Participate in community events that support education. Events range from teacher support rallies, school supply drives, book drives and campus clean ups to school fundraisers. Find addresses for elected officials and information on public policy in education at: United Way Advocacy
Most of us understand that a well-educated citizenry benefits everyone. It leads to strong employees, active community members, good parents and law-abiding neighbors. We all need these people in our lives. Consider today how you can support students – even if you don’t want to set foot in a classroom!