Local volunteers keeping the district humming

by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Hallinan Elementary School parents Jerry and Shelley Brown are among thousands of local parent volunteers.Jerry and Shelley Brown are a two-headed Hallinan Elementary School volunteering machine.

She’s a regular at the parent-teacher organization, having served as president-elect and now president. He uses his cinematography skills to support the kids, preparing a slide presentation for fifth-graders and creating a video for the Hallinan auction.

When the school board chose to shutter three schools a couple of years ago to close a budget shortfall, Shelley Brown jumped right into the fray.

“I think a lot of people stepped back for a bit, and I just decided that I was going to show my kids how to make the most of it,” she SUBMITTED PHOTO - Jerry Brown uses his filmmaking skills to volunteer at Hallinan.

As a filmmaker, Jerry Brown is often traveling and likes to be able to help, though he can’t be on hand on a regular basis. Fortunately, he says, he’s not the only one helping at Hallinan.

“There’s a really good group of parents there,” he says. “It’s a great school.”

The Browns and other Hallinan parents are among thousands of volunteers in the district who take on a host of responsibilities to help local students thrive. Corey Fivecoat, the Lakeridge High School principal’s secretary, says there are more than 250 parent volunteers at his school alone.

“We have wonderful parent volunteers here in Lake Oswego,” Fivecoat says. “No question about that. Our parent volunteers work with us from registration through graduation and check out at the end of the year. Our volunteers make the entire staff feel loved and cared for during Teacher Appreciation Week and treat us to about eight lunches during the year.”

Lake Oswego High Principal Cindy Schubert feels similarly, saying, "I personally can't say enough about the support our parents provide to so many areas of our school--performing arts, academics, athletics, and anything else we might need along the way. "

Parents throughout LOSD support activities and sports — soccer, basketball, drama, cheerleading, band, football, robotics, debate. Parents seem to materialize where they’re needed: sewing a costume, repairing a uniform, staffing a concession stand or just ferrying students to wherever they need to be to do what they do best.

Michelle Huntington, volunteer coordinator at Lakeridge Junior High, says volunteer Alison Thompson inspired her to get involved by saying, “ ‘Just turn up and there will be a job for you, and you’ll make a difference.’ ”

For every school, there’s a school advisory committee of parents who inform district officials about what should happen and what probably shouldn’t. Enrichment-program, committee and parent-teacher-association volunteers exhaust the clock at schools throughout the district. Local parents lead enrichment programs and fundraisers while still finding time to be room parents or spirit-week planners. Scads of other parents lend a hand when called upon, even taking projects home or popping in at lunchtime.

“Volunteers are an invaluable resource to Lake Grove students, staff and the community,” Lake Grove Elementary Principal Carol Whitten says. “We have developed a strong partnership between our parent leadership, volunteers and the school to provide our students the opportunities they might not otherwise have. It is difficult to provide a total number of volunteers, but I could easily say hundreds.”

One such volunteer is Whitney Woolf, who has been helping at Lake Grove since 2006 to support her three children, serving in every capacity from collating papers to presiding as PTA president.

Woolf says parent volunteers find a sense of community at schools and an opportunity to give back.

“It’s so meaningful,” she says. “I think we all know that we are doing something for our kids and something for other people’s kids, and that’s valuable.”

Tin Kha, the incoming principal at Westridge Elementary School, says volunteers truly are a valuable resource for schools. Kha’s heard that his parent volunteers do a phenomenal job of fundraising.

“I think the amount that we raise is a representation of the volunteerism and the support of the community,” he says, “and so I think the volunteers are the heart of the school and really help it thrive and excel.”

To volunteer, contact your school, and visit the district website for volunteer guidelines (under parent info):

By Jillian Daley
503-636-1281, ext. 109
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