Parents and families are an integral and vital part of Opal School, and there are many ways to get involved in volunteer capacities. Parents make our nutrition program possible by preparing snacks and serving meals, they make field trips possible, they offer companionship and literacy support to children who can use a little extra, they support our PE program, help keep our classrooms clean, make our professional development offerings run smoothly and look beautiful, stock materials and sharpen pencils, organize celebrations, provide leadership on the Opal Advisory Council, serve on the Museum Board, share special talents and skills from cooking to guitar playing to constructing classrooms... the list goes on and on.
In the first weeks of school, children are guided by their teachers to develop strong communities, to make agreements for their participation and collaboration and to learn how to listen to one another. As these communities are being established in these early weeks, we ask parents to limit their presence in the classroom to hugs and good-byes for the day. In these first weeks, the children and teachers will learn to rely on one another and to trust their new relationships. Opal School teachers have tremendous expertise in attending to the social and emotional needs of children and to skillfully craft learning communities from the groups that arrive on the first day of school. We support them best to move through this process when we keep some distance as this process unfolds.
For those parents who look forward to working directly with students in the classrooms, mandatory volunteer trainings will be held in the month of October. These trainings (morning of 10/5 and evening of 10/12) are listed on your school calendar. Because we have not offered this training for the past few years, we ask that all parents who want to work with Opal students in the classroom, at PE, on field trips or as reading buddies attend one of these meetings. We appreciate the time you will take to attend this meeting. It is an important investment towards the strong alliance we expect to build together as we work with each other's children, do our part to nurture them, and celebrate together as we marvel over who they are and who they are becoming.
And for those of you that want to jump in and get involved right away, there is work to be done! These volunteer roles will not require the volunteer training. Instead, they'll have training provided when you can start. These jobs include include:
- help with the nutrition program
- office support
- supporting charter teachers at dismissal time each day
- administrative classroom tasks such as photocopying, filing, checking folders, etc.
- classroom cleaning
- organizing school celebrations
- support for professional development
The Opal Advisory Council's volunteer coordinators are Michelle Elliott and Jessica Donnell. They will be supporting the scheduling and organization of volunteers. The Portland Children's Museum's volunteer coordinator, Heather Hartley, will be managing systems to track the participation of Opal's volunteers. The volunteer work you do is recorded because it can help us become eligible for increased grant funding.
We look forward to working and learning with you.