Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

How to keep volunteering in schools

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Greg Peck
Monday, January 28, 2013

Today marks the first time in more than two decades that no church or civic group is overseeing a breakfast program in the Janesville School District. The district disbanded its many breakfast clubs in favor of federal funding for breakfasts that are being overseen by staff. District officials, however, say volunteers are needed as breakfast buddies to help children open their prepackaged foods and continue to mentor the kids.

Some volunteers, no doubt, will continue doing so.

If you’re feeling a sense of loss, like the new breakfast programs aren’t meant for you, the district says many other volunteer services are available. Among those shown in a presentation at the last school board meeting are serving as lunch and reading buddies, helping kids with math and spelling, helping with homework after school, teaching children how to play chess, helping with after-school clubs such as teaching crafts or games, shelving library books, cutting laminated items, helping with Market Day, organizing Clothes Closet items, helping manage teacher resources, volunteering for special carnivals and PTA nights, making copies in offices, donating time with students as rewards, correcting tests, working in the school store, working in the arboretum or courtyard, helping with general classroom duties, helping with book fairs and working with kindergarten centers.

More details on some of these programs might have been nice, or where to call for more information, but those weren’t provided.

If you don’t think the Janesville School District has a place for you to volunteer, consider the words of Jon Flora. You might recall his View of the Week letter we ran Jan. 12 that encouraged volunteerism. Here’s what he wrote to me in a follow-up email:

“I have been volunteering at Jackson the past four years, five days as week, with 13 different teachers. My day begins at 9 and ends at 3 or at 5:30 if (I'm) there for after-school homework class.”

If he’s not at after-school classes, you’ll find him at the Janesville Boys and Girls Club.

“I mentor for an eighth-grade boy over lunch once a week that I have known since fifth grade. There are so many children/kids needing attention with someone who cares. ... We are in desperate need of male volunteers/mentors in our schools. ... I think about the kids all the time.”

About his volunteer commitments, Flora adds: “I also have a most loving and wonderful wife!”

Flora says he’s also part of Big Brothers Big Sisters and has been mentoring a “Little” for 3½ years.

That reminds me of the letter we printed Jan. 19 from Melanie Wittman, Rock County coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rock, Walworth and Jefferson Counties. Too many children, she wrote, have no caring adult in their lives to give undivided attention or play games with or just sit and talk. The Lunch Buddy program can fill that void.

“As a Lunch Buddy, a mentor is matched one-on-one with a child facing adversity. The volunteer and child have lunch together and then spend the rest of lunch/recess talking, playing, reading and just being friends. Children with mentors feel more confident, positive, and have improved performance at home and school. You don't need to be a celebrity or an expert on kids to make a difference. You just need to want to make a new friend. A weekly visit with your ‘Little’ can be all it takes to keep the child motivated and on track. The smile you'll get each time you visit will stay with you all week.”

For information, contact Big Brothers Big Sisters at 608-362-8223.

Plenty of opportunities in our schools are available to those willing to do a little digging to find the right program and time spot to fit their interests and availability.

While many volunteers understandably feel pushed aside with the demise of the breakfast clubs, please keep our community's needy children in mind. Continue to share your time with them.

I emailed the district last week about contacts for the schools and got the below list.

Craig High School, 401 S. Randall Ave.

Phone: 608-743-5200

Principal: Alison Bjoin

Secretary: Tricia Jones

Parker High School, 3125 Mineral Point Ave.

Phone: 608-743-5600

Principal: Chris Laue

Secretary: Rita Kettleson

Janesville Academy for International Studies, located at UW-Rock County, 2909 Kellogg Ave., Rms. W27 & W31

Phone: 608-758-6512

Principal: Karen Schulte

Head Teacher: Jane Thompson

Janesville Virtual Academy, located at Jefferson E.S., 1831 Mt. Zion Ave.

Phone: 608-743-6600

Administrator: Kurt Krueger

Head Teacher: David Parr

Rock River Charter School, 31 W. Milwaukee St.

Phone: 608-752-8273

Administrator: Lisa Peterson

TAGOS Academy, 1350 N. Parker Drive (Arrow Park)

Phone: 608-931-8434

Principal: Kim Ehrhardt

Edison Middle School, 1649 S. Chatham St.

Phone: 608-743-5900

Principal: Jim LeMire

Secretary: Cindy Luebke

Franklin Middle School, 450 N. Crosby Ave.

Phone: 608-743-6000

Principal: Charles Urness

Secretary: Paula Stratton

Marshall Middle School, 25 S. Pontiac Drive

Phone: 608-743-6200

Principal: Synthia Taylor

Secretary: Denise Rankin

Adams Elementary School, 1138 E. Memorial Drive

Phone: 608-743-6300

Principal: Sally Parks

Secretary: Joan Spafford

Harrison Elementary School, 760 Princeton Road

Phone: 608-743-6400

Principal: Jessica Grandt-Turke

Secretary: Sarah Benish

Jackson Elementary School, 441 W. Burbank Ave.

Phone: 608-743-6500

Principal: Kristen Moisson

Secretary: Terri Berlin

Jefferson Elementary School, 1831 Mt. Zion Ave.

Phone: 608-743-6600

Principal: Kurt Krueger

Secretary: Rita Davidson

Kennedy Elementary School, 3901 Randolph Road.

Phone: 608-743-7500

Principal: Alison DeGraaf

Secretary: Susan Scott

Lincoln Elementary School, 1821 Conde St.

Phone: 608-743-6700

Principal: Shawn Galvin

Secretary: Gretchen Johnson

Madison Elementary School, 331 N. Grant Ave.

Phone: 608-743-6800

Principal: Veronica McMahon

Secretary: Kathi Steinhorst

Monroe Elementary School, 55 S. Pontiac Drive

Phone: 608-743-6900

Principal: Lori Burns

Secretary: Becky Kealy

Roosevelt Elementary School, 316 S. Ringold St.

Phone: 608-743-7000

Principal: Stacy L. Kelley

Secretary: Lisa Ramirez

Van Buren Elementary School, 1515 Lapham St.

Phone: 608-743-7100

Principal: Stephanie Pajerski

Secretary: Terry Terrell

Washington Elementary School, 811 N. Pine St.

Phone: 608-743-7200

Principal: Scott Garner

Secretary: Linda Ryan

Wilson Elementary School, 465 Rockport Road

Phone: 608-743-7300

Principal: Kim Peerenboom

Secretary: Jeanne Lee

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook

Last updated: 9:24 am Monday, April 29, 2013

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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