Volunteer Handbook

ACPS Volunteer Handbook | Printer friendly PDF

Alleghany County Public Schools








Volunteer Handbook




P.O. Drawer 140 100 Central Circle

Low Moor, Virginia 24457 540/863-1800

540/863-1804 (fax)

Volunteer Program Goals


The goal of the Alleghany County Public Schools Volunteer Program is to encourage and enable citizens within our communities to participate in the educational process of our students. This goal may be accomplished by:


·        Recruiting potential volunteers to serve in schools

·        Training volunteers to be effective participants

·        Supporting volunteers and providing encouragement

·        Recognizing volunteers for their service to our school system


Purpose and Use of this Manual


This manual is intended to provide guidelines for the Alleghany County Public Schools Volunteer Program. No statement herein is intended to conflict with existing School Board policies or with existing Administrative Directives.


It also is designed to serve as a resource manual for school volunteer coordinators, teachers  and volunteers. School coordinators should use this manual as the basis for all site-level orientation and training activities.


Guidelines and Procedures


The Volunteer Program is sponsored by the Alleghany County Public Schools. Therefore, the School Division has the responsibility for program operations.


Definition of a Volunteer: A volunteer is someone who works in a school on a regular basis, or assists in a school-related activity, without compensation.


Volunteer Screening: Anyone wishing to volunteer must contact a teacher or administrator in the local school of interest. The principal will accept the person as a volunteer if convinced that the person has some immediately identifiable connection with the school and school community. All volunteers who work within the school during the school day must complete an application form, including furnishing references. The person will not be accepted or used as a volunteer until the school principal is satisfied of the person’s suitability. The principal or assistant principal will initiate the application process, including but not limited to checking references, conducting a background check, and fingerprinting of any volunteers.


Volunteer Orientation & Training: Pre-service orientation meetings will be conducted in each school for all volunteers. The purpose of this orientation is to acquaint volunteers with the program and day-to-day expectations.

Termination of Volunteer Status: Any adverse incident involving a volunteer should be reported immediately to the principal. A person’s volunteer status may be terminated by the principal or personnel office, at any time without reason, without prior notice.


Policies & Regulations: All volunteers are expected to abide by all Alleghany County School Board Policies and Regulations while serving in the school program or activity. This includes registering in the designated sign-in book when arriving at school and wearing an identification badge while in the school building and/or reporting to the supervising school personnel. It also includes the volunteer’s commitment to support the employee dress code as much as is practical.


Recognition: Recognition events such as certificates for service, mementos of recognition, and end-of-year appreciation luncheons, etc., may be held in each school throughout the year.




Role of the Principal:

·        Officially appoint the school volunteer coordinator.

·        Conduct  background  checks  on  all  volunteers,  including  checking references.

·        Approve all volunteers.

·        Plan  and  organize  the  specific  duties  of  the  school’s  volunteer coordinator.

·        Identify new needs of the school.

·        Assist the volunteer coordinator with volunteer orientation and training as requested.

·        Provide general guidance to and support for the program throughout the year.

·        Notify the volunteer coordinator when extra help is needed.

·        Help identify leadership abilities.

·        Assist    the    volunteer     coordinator    with    recognition    activities    for volunteers.

·        Assist  the  volunteer  coordinator  with  the  evaluation  of  the  school program.


Role of the School Volunteer Coordinator

·        Identify student, teacher and school needs.

·        Provide teachers with guidelines and training for utilizing  volunteer services.

·        Orient the volunteer to the school, explain sign-in sheets, and obtain information from the volunteer about special interests.

·        Arrange  informal  volunteer  briefing  sessions  to  discuss  program expectations.

·        Arrange initial contacts between teacher and volunteer.

·        Provide volunteer guidelines on:

Ø      School policies

Ø      Building layout

Ø      Emergency procedures

·        Receive volunteer feedback about assignments and activities.

·        Perform     ongoing     evaluation     of     the     program     and     coordinate recommendations and requests for additional volunteers.

·        Arrange official school recognition for volunteers.


Keys to Effective Volunteer Operations


Steps to Forming Successful Teacher-Volunteer Relationships:


1.      Develop awareness of how to utilize volunteer services.


·        Deal with your concerns. Typical staff concerns about volunteers, and some suggestions for teaching with these concerns include:


Ø      Extra planning time: Effectively utilizing volunteer services does take extra time, but the amount of time initially required for planning and supervision will decline as the teacher-volunteer partnership develops and the volunteer is able to operate more independently.


Ø      Volunteer’s level of commitment: In order to help volunteers make a realistic commitment that will result in dependability and job satisfaction, provide a clear and honest job description including a frank assessment of the time and skills required. Also deal with whether you are willing to make the necessary commitment to planning, supervision, feedback, recognition and evaluation.


Ø      Confidentiality: Clearly state what confidentiality means, why it’s important, expectations regarding it, and the consequences of violating it.


Ø      “Spying”: Volunteers really just want to know what’s going on. They’re probably expecting something good, not something bad! Besides, what do you have to hide? Remember that volunteers can be the best PR officials in the community.


·        Learn about ways volunteers can help. Often teachers are so accustomed to doing so much by themselves that they’re unsure what help to ask for. For example, teachers are professionals but cannot expect the same level of  secretarial support which  must  be provided for administrative  staff.

Volunteers  can  be  a  way  to  get  additional  assistance.         See  “Ways Volunteers Can Help” for other ideas.


·        Assess your activities. Becoming aware of the tremendous scope and variety of your activities as a teacher is a critical step in determining what kind of volunteer assistance you may need and want. You can conduct your own assessment by taking a plain sheet of paper and simply recording in a word or a short phrase your activities over several days.


·        Refine expectations. Both volunteers and teachers should be aware of the expectations each has of the other. It’s wise to put these expectations in print on the same sheet of paper. Teachers should have clear and high expectations and so should volunteers. Work with fellow teachers and your volunteer coordinator to establish norms that seem to work well for your building and for your own classroom or situation.


2.      Assess and Request


·        Determine where volunteer help is appropriate. Applying these four tests can help you to decide whether or not to make a certain request:


Ø      Authority Test:     Are volunteers permitted to do this type of activity?


Ø      Delegation Test:  Would you feel comfortable delegating this job to a volunteer?


Ø      Dollar Test:    Is the task one that should be done by paid staff?


Ø      Pattern Test:  Must you do the task because it is part of the team effort or pattern involving other staff members?


·        Make your request. After you’ve determined where assistance is needed and appropriate, contact your school volunteer coordinator for assistance. If your school coordinator uses a standard request form, it can minimize information gaps regarding days and times help is needed, type of job to be performed, etc. Such a form can allow for all information necessary for the development of a job description and still be simple.


3.      Preparation and Planning


·        Conduct an initial teacher-volunteer conference. Plan for an uninterrupted period of time when the two of you can begin to get to know each other and you can make your judgment about the suitability of the volunteer for the job.  It’s wise to indicate that there will be a trial period of time (about

4-6 weeks) to make sure the arrangement is working for both of you. If you know right away that the match has little chance of being successful, work with your volunteer coordinator to find another potential placement for that individual.


·        Getting ready for your volunteer includes such basics as preparing any necessary tools or work area. Provide welcoming touches like a name tag, space to store belongings, a coffee mug perhaps. Name tags for students and other staff members will greatly assist the newcomer in learning names and feeling at home in the building.


·        Plan with your volunteer. A planning sheet can guide you in providing information the volunteer needs to perform the job you’ve discussed. Try putting plan sheets in a folder for the volunteer to read each time he/she reports without having to interrupt you for verbal directions (unless, of course, clarification is needed). Sheets can also convey written feedback from the volunteer. Update with new sheets as progress is made and/or needs change. However, don’t neglect to maintain regular face-to-face discussion so your relationship can grow.


4.      Management


·        Orient the volunteer so he/she can begin to feel comfortable in the school setting. The sample checklist covers the basics of a thorough orientation.


·        Train the volunteer in the techniques and/or materials needed to perform satisfactorily. While much or all training can be on-the-job, be sure to plan time and activities to prepare the volunteer before he/she is expected to be able to perform the job. Try providing a workshop for several volunteers to deal with the basics of tutoring reading or math, for example. Remember the time you spend equipping volunteers with the skills, knowledge, attitudes and tools they need in order to be effective in their jobs represents an important investment that will expand your ability to reach your students.


·        Get to know more about your volunteer. The better we know volunteers, the better the chances that their experiences, hobbies, talents, and travels can become a part of classroom enrichment. Moreover, familiarity usually strengthens a relationship and can led to genuine friendship.


·        Supervise and provide direction, encouragement, feedback, praise, additional training and greater responsibility as the volunteer is able to assume it. Increasing responsibility appropriately can be both a motivator and a reward.

5.      Recognition and Appreciation


·        Appreciation is a pervasive and ongoing attitude that must be actively and genuinely communicated in day-to-day respectfulness, kindness, and good manners. Also, appreciation is not just a one-time occasion, although special recognition events certainly are appropriate and can be included. Look at the list of 26 Ways to Show Appreciation to Volunteers for inspiration. Be sure to help your students practice their manners by encouraging them to be mindful of expressing their gratitude to volunteers. Most of all, have fun saying “Thank You” and acknowledging the special qualities and contributions of volunteers.


6.      Evaluation


·        Don’t wait until the end of the year before you ask for feedback from the volunteer, and don’t wait that long to give it either. When appropriate, be sure to also provide for written evaluation at the end of the year or job term. Ask yourself, the volunteer and the students questions that will provide insight into what worked and what didn't, how things could be improved, etc. Be prepared to act on suggestions.


Essential Points for Teachers


The success stories are so numerous about how the involvement of community volunteers is making a significant difference in the education of students that the notion is taken for granted by many educators and volunteers. However, studies of the success stories indicate that significant outcomes do not happen by chance. They are the result of careful program planning and the training of staff and volunteers about how to be effective partners in the education team. The following points for teachers serve as a basis for the design of in-service training models.


1.      Develop awareness about how to involve volunteers:


·        Talk to other teachers about the ways they have involved volunteers and candidly share your concerns. Concerns about the cost to the teacher of involving volunteers are normal. Some typical staff concerns are the extra planning time required, the volunteer’s level of commitment, confidentiality issues, and “spying” by the volunteer. These are all legitimate concerns and there are ways to address them with a well organized program.


·        Many education organizations are featuring workshop sessions and conferences that focus on community involvement in schools. Talk with persons who have attended state and national conferences on school volunteer programs and school/business partnerships. The National Association  of  Partners  in  Education  (  sponsors  an

annual national conference which focuses entirely on these two topics. Ask PTAs, PTOs, and Booster Clubs to sponsor attendance at these conferences. Ask your principal to arrange for teachers to informally share information from these conferences at the building level through staff development programs at the district level.


2.      Assess your needs:


·        Make a list of the needs in your classroom if all students are to achieve their full potential for learning. With which of these needs could a volunteer assist? Could the volunteer assist with general classroom procedures so that you, the teacher, are free to spend more time teaching students? Could a volunteer give extra reinforcement in spelling, reading, or math to students who are working below grade level, or help a child who was absent understand the work to be made up? Could the volunteer help more advanced students to probe deeply into subjects that interest them, or prepare games and teaching materials? Could the volunteer’s hobbies or career experience be shared to help students explore new areas of interest or vocational opportunities? Figuring out what kind of help you want will allow the building coordinator to identify appropriate volunteers for your classroom.


3.      Request a volunteer for your classroom:


·        Rarely does a volunteer walk into a classroom uninvited. Volunteers respond to specific needs and requests. Consult with your school volunteer coordinator. Provide the coordinator with the hours and days you would like to have a volunteer and what duties you wish the volunteer to perform.


·        Be realistic in what you request a typical school volunteer might be available for one hour or one morning or one afternoon each week. Volunteers who get satisfaction from their service do usually increase the number of hours they contribute, and some may work as many as ten to fifteen hours a week. When the school volunteer coordinator matches a volunteer to a need in your classroom, a trial placement of a few weeks is suggested. This gives both the teacher and the volunteer an opportunity to make sure that the placement is right.


·        It is also important to take advantage of community resource speakers who can enhance and reinforce the learning objectives for your classroom. This person will typically make a one-time presentation, so the presenter and the students need to have a clear understanding of the purpose of the presentation and how to prepare for it.

4.      Orient the volunteer to classroom policies and procedures:


·        An orientation is a general session held for volunteers and staff to familiarize them with the volunteer program and important administrative procedures before they become a working team. Although a volunteer has already attended an orientation session in the school where he or she is to service (and possibly a district-level orientation), the teacher needs to explain the operations and specific policies of his/her classroom. The regular volunteer must know about classroom and school rules and emergency procedures for addressing discipline problems with the volunteer. Teachers should never leave volunteers in charge of classes.


·        Guidelines should be specific, distinguishing between those tasks which are solely the teacher’s responsibility (diagnosing, prescribing, evaluating and disciplining), those which belong to the volunteer, and those in which they will work together.


·        The teacher should:


Ø      Discuss with the volunteer what to do if either of them is unable to come for any reason;


Ø      Leave  written  instructions  for  substitute  teachers  about  volunteer activities;


Ø      Inform the volunteer by phone if the class will be gone for some reason during the volunteer’s regular scheduled time.


·        The teacher also should reinforce topics covered in the general school orientation, such as signing in and out of the school building, wearing volunteer identification badges, and practicing complete  confidentiality with regard to the performance and conduct of students.


5.      Make time to get to know your volunteer:


·        “Volunteers work for free, but not for nothing.” This axiom means that the volunteers must feel that their services are needed and worth their time and effort if they are to continue in their assignments. Teachers who are most successful in working with volunteers are those who respect the volunteers as individuals and make them a vital part of the educational team. They draw on the volunteer’s creativity, critical thinking ability, experiences and unique skills. In addition to basic classroom support activities, some volunteers can contribute significantly to a special unit of study such as urban renewal or ecology. Others can demonstrate how to make a musical instrument or share their personal experiences during periods of history through which they have lived.  Some can set up field

trips, learning centers, bulletin boards or stimulate students’ thinking about an issue or social studies unit.


·        The school volunteer coordinator can give the teacher important background material on the volunteer from the application form and the initial interview data. Still, the teacher should set aside some time when students are not present to get to know the volunteer as a person if the volunteer’s special talents are to be discovered and utilized.


·        Plan an uninterrupted period of time for the initial teacher-volunteer conference so the two of you can get to know each other and you can make a judgment about the suitability of the volunteer for the job. If you know right away that the match has little chance of being successful, work with your coordinator to find another placement for that individual.


6.      Match the volunteer’s interests and skills with your needs:


·        There are  differentiated roles for different types of volunteers. Many school volunteers find great satisfaction in working directly with children in instructional areas. Others, particularly newcomers, may prefer to do jobs with less direct contact with the students, such as preparing classroom materials or supporting clerical functions. Volunteers don’t mind doing routine tasks occasionally (such as collating or collecting permission slips) if these assignments are mixed with tasks which challenge their abilities and permit them to grow in their assignments.


·          Teachers should observe the volunteer’s growth in abilities and confidence and give increasing responsibilities as they are warranted. The teacher and volunteer should develop a contract or role description that includes the understanding they have reached about duties and responsibilities.


7.      Establish good communication for purposes of planning and supervision:


·        The teacher must set up a system for communicating with the volunteer so that valuable time is not lost while the teacher gives the volunteer an assignment. The teacher should plan ahead for each specific day the volunteer is in the classroom, giving clear directions to the volunteer, noting where to find needed materials or equipment and describing techniques or procedures to be used.


8.      Share the students with the volunteer:


·        Volunteers who work with individual students need to know how they are making a difference in the student’s life. Although teachers will not share specific  confidential  information  about  individual  students  (IQ  scores,