Recognizing the Villagers

We have all heard the proverb, "It Takes a Village to Raise a Child". We have heard it so much that at times it can be cliche, but in our heart of hearts, we believe it really does take a village.

In many respects, when we say this within a school building we are referring to the vast number of staff members that the child works with, the past, present and future teachers and of course, the child's parents.

This year, we have been blessed to have the support of some new villagers helping us raise our children/students. Volunteers. Developing a strong volunteer base in a Title I school is part of the unique set of responsibilities that comes as being a leader in such a building. Our volunteer base grew this year through the partnerships with two specific churches and two specific businesses who not only wanted to volunteer, but give of their time and resources. While financial support is welcomed and very generous the best gift our students can receive is the gift of time. The time volunteers spend with our students is truly a gift, but more than a gift, it is an investment.

Mentoring has been the gift and investment our volunteers have given to our students this year. Every Thursday, during lunch time, mentors embark upon Sigler Elementary, giving up their lunch to spend it with several of our students. They are looking for nothing in return, other than to know they are making a difference. The difference they are making looks different for each student and cannot be measured quantitatively. The difference they make comes through the self-esteem developed, social skills improved upon and our students knowing there is someone else in their life who is not a teacher or parent who loves them unconditionally.

One of our mentors shared this story with me today. "The first time I met my student, she sat with her shoulders facing me, not making eye contact, just counting the minutes until our time together was over. I set a goal for myself that by the end of the year, I could get her to face me during our conversations, make eye contact and enjoy our time together. I knew I had surpassed my goal a few weeks ago as I sat waiting for her to come down to the library and as I saw her heading my way, she was skipping with a smile on her face that reached ear to ear."

I will share that story with everyone I encounter who is considering working with our students. That example should fill your bucket. Consider the impact that villager just made and how that will support the teachers working with that specific child.

We celebrated our villagers, mentors and volunteers today with a Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon hosted by our Sigler Chefs (a group of 3rd grade students who participated in an after school cooking club) and the staff at Sigler Elementary. When the teachers approached me, asking if they can provide the food for the volunteer luncheon, you know they had felt the positive impact of the students being raised by the village.

Thank you does not begin to cover the gratitude I have and our staff has for the heart, time and compassion these volunteers have given to our students and staff this year. We appreciate you and we thank you for being a part of our village.

What was your moment today?

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