Continuing on in this subject of public school, I thought I’d share how I’ve been able to get involved at the girls’ school (just remember, this is all based on one school year so I’m no expert). My goal going into this first year of public school was to know and be known actively, not passively; so I dedicated one day a week, one of the days Landis is in preschool, to be up on campus and help the teachers somehow. At first I wasn’t sure what that would entail but I just made it a point to be ready to volunteer when needed. Actually I didn’t have to wait long at all because the sign-up lists for volunteering come out the moment you step foot on campus to meet the teachers (they really want any help you can offer)!
A couple of weeks into school, a slot opened up to work in the school library, shelving books and checking out students, at the one and only time I could do it, and I knew it was meant to be–I love books, I love kids…the best of both worlds! It truly has been my favorite part of volunteering. It has been so fun for me to meet students and to get to know some of my kids’ friends, put names to faces, and also it’s been a great way for me to meet their parents when I realize I have their child on my library day. I’ve even met some students who actually live right around the corner from us, and I’m sure their parents thought I was a crazy lady when I rolled down the window one day to yell and wave at their daughter who I had met in the library. And on top of meeting people, I’ve realized how nerdy I am because apparently I really love alphabetizing books and re-shelving–there’s something strangely satisfying about it…
Along with working in the library, I make copies for Amaleah’s teacher, and then I listen to groups of students read in Julia’s class (so funny but I’m just now noticing a theme in my volunteering: books and paper, how appropriate). I was able to work it out so all of this is done on one day, and I can even squeeze in lunch with a daughter now and then as well. It helps me so much to be at school regularly so I can have a better sense of where my children are, who they are with, and what the lunch ladies are actually like (since I think my kids have an overly dramatic view of their strictness). The office lady even knows us all by first and last name now, which is amazing considering she has 800 students and their parents going in and out of there everyday. I’d say we’ve made progress! (of course, I credit that to Landis’s charming personality, winsome blue eyes and curly blonde hair…hard to forget a boy like that).
I “joined” the PTO (which is the same thing as the PTA but for whatever reason our district likes to be different), but really I just go to the meetings. I didn’t sign up for any committees because I knew so little about anything to begin with that I figured I’d just help in small ways to start. So I help in some of the fundraisers or bringing food for teachers or stuff like that, and just do my assigned volunteering on my scheduled day.
Moral of the story, as it worked out for me:
1) Ask the Lord to guide you to the right areas of involvement.
2) Look for ways to volunteer with things you are interested in and are good at…
3) Volunteer as you can, but don’t feel like you have to be in every committee or do every fundraiser. There is always something that is needed but I have to have time with my boy at home, and my laundry and errands still have to be done. I signed up for almost everything the first semester and then slowed down a bit in the second semester and found more of my groove. I don’t go to every field trip, but I go to some. I don’t help out for every fundraiser, but some. I can always bake some brownies or bring a fruit tray, so I usually say yes to that or to helping out for class parties. But you have to do what’s best for your family, so don’t feel pressured to be everything to every person.
4) Just do what you can and mostly, meet people. If that’s the overarching goal, then it’s way more fun and interesting and purposeful.
5) Focus on the heart of service and relationship, not on working your way up to front and center of the parent volunteers. If you turn out to be a whiz at all the pto stuff and find a way to graciously and humbly serve, even if it means you do have a front and center role, then that’s wonderful. It’s easy to get caught up in the politics of it all so just use discernment on how deep you get into the volunteer association. If you see your volunteer work as a way to love and serve others, it can help safe guard your heart from doing it for your own glory, and guide you to doing what is most needed.