Volunteering at school

By Karina Rook

A great way to meet other parents and get to know a school better is to offer your time as a volunteer. Whether it be ad hoc for fundraising events, or a regular gig, you need to jump through a few hoops first.

Hoop 1. Get the necessary paperwork from the school. The PTA (Parent Teachers Assoc.) is not the main doorway for volunteering. You can choose to not be in the PTA and still volunteer by completing the appropriate forms from the school office.

Hoop 2. Get a TB test done. Yep, they want proof that you’re not positive for Tuberculosis, so you need to get a scratch test done, then return to the medical center the next day to see if a rash has developed. If you’re clear, then they issue a certificate (which I have heard that some employers require too, so file it away).

Hoop 3. Criminal record check. I had to visit the local sheriff’s office and pay $13 to get a criminal record check done on me.

Hoop 4. Chase up the PTA, event organizers and teachers and make sure they know you’re available. All that paperwork you do usually gets filed and no-one is really notified that you’re available and legitimate as a volunteer.

Once I got into the system and into the right people’s email distribution lists I had plenty of opportunities to help out:

  • Helper for school excursions
  • Teacher’s helper (preparing materials for class, putting artwork up in the classroom)
  • Librarian’s helper (sorted books on shelves, put books away)
  • Carwash labour for fundraising event
  • Decorator for the graduation ceremony
  • Art in Action helper
  • School Open Night supervisor for the art displays
  • Scholastic book fair cashier
  • Spirit day food and drink dispenser
  • Teacher Appreciation Day helper
  • School uniform sorter

Every one of these tasks has been fun, friendly, and given me an insight into how the education systems really works over here.

And I really enjoy embarrassing my kids too (though I think they secretly love it?).