Parent volunteerism up at Germantown Elementary School
10 for Excellence' encourages 10 hours of volunteer time
Joe Beck/The Gazette
Administrators at Germantown Elementary School are pleased about a sharp increase in parent volunteers under a program launched this year.
Principal Amy Bryant's program, 10 for Excellence, is an effort to gain parent volunteers through goal-setting, recordkeeping and the chance for a prize.
Parent volunteer hours increased from 397 in the period from August through December in 2007 to 648 in the same period for 2008, a result that school counselor Christine Saunders calls "partly if not entirely due to our 10 for Excellence program."
Braynt said 37 parents have signed up for the program, and 11 have worked 10 hours. She believes many more don't complete the paperwork the school uses to keep track of participation.
Bryant said she wanted to raise parental involvement as a practical response to academic research showing a strong link between students who perform well and the time parents spend in their children's education. The school does not have data on student academic gains attributable to increased parent participation, but Bryant said she sees a difference in student attitudes.
"You can see a change in how students view themselves and their place in the school," she said.
She cited one child whose behavioral problems have ended since his mother began volunteering regularly.
"I can see when his mom comes in how happy and proud he is," Bryant said.
The program focuses on making parental involvement a regular habit by asking parents to register to perform at least 10 hours of service.
Some suggested activities, such as reading the school newsletter, do not require parents to come to school. Other activities include reading to students, helping with science fair projects, maintaining school grounds and attending PTA meetings.
Parents receive a sheet in the format of a bingo card to keep track of their volunteer hours and activities. Those who fulfill the 10 hour commitment are eligible for a prize.
Kim Photinakis of Germantown, the school's volunteer yearbook coordinator, said she enjoys coming to school.
"I love to see smiles on the kids' faces, see the teachers involved and how hard they're working," Photinakis said.