Schools reach out to parents to build volunteerism

If Deanna Newton and Amy Durbin have anything to say about it, volunteerism is getting set to skyrocket in Nelson County Schools.

The two moms of Nelson County students are among a cadre of volunteers who have teamed up to reach out to parents and grow volunteer efforts throughout the school system.

Volunteer coordinators for Nelson County Schools pose for a photo during the January meeting of the Nelson County Board of Education. Pictured, from left, are Amy Durbin, TNHS; Margaret Hockensmith, NCHS; Kari Cavalieri, BMS; Renee Douglas, Boston; Carol Ballard, FHES; Becky Collins, NCELC (AM); and Christy Jones, BES. Not pictured are Dawn Seawater, OKH; Ronda Bertrand, CCES; Valerie Keeling, NCELC (PM) and Barb Erickson, NHS. The volunteer coordinators were honored and introduced during the board meeting.

Volunteer coordinators for Nelson County Schools pose for a photo during the January meeting of the Nelson County Board of Education. Pictured, from left, are Amy Durbin, TNHS; Margaret Hockensmith, NCHS; Kari Cavalieri, BMS; Renee Douglas, Boston; Carol Ballard, FHES; Becky Collins, NCELC (AM); and Christy Jones, BES. Not pictured are Dawn Seawater, OKH; Ronda Bertrand, CCES; Valerie Keeling, NCELC (PM) and Barb Erickson, NHS. The volunteer coordinators were honored and introduced during the board meeting.

“I am just so excited about it. I think it’s going to be fantastic,” said Durbin, the mother of a senior at Nelson County High School (NCHS) and a sophomore at Thomas Nelson High School (TNHS).

Likewise, Newton believes parents and other volunteers possess a wide array of individual strengths that can and should be tapped for the benefit of Nelson County students and their schools.

“Maybe we can be the mediators between parents and teachers. If I was a teacher, I would want my parents to be on board,” said Newton, the mother of children attending three schools in the system: Foster Heights Elementary School (FHES), Old Kentucky Home Middle School (OKHMS) and NCHS.

Durbin is one of 11 parents who have stepped forward to serve as a volunteer coordinator for one of 10 schools in the Nelson County system, including two for the Nelson County Early Learning Center (ELC).

Newton and Kara Orr are leading the effort on behalf of the district’s Expect the Best (ETB) committee, which is spearheading the initiative.

Both groups were formally introduced and honored during the January meeting of the Nelson County Board of Education.

The volunteer coordinators and the schools they represent include Amy Durbin, TNHS; Dawn Seawater, OKHMS; Margaret Hockensmith, NCHS; Kari Cavalieri, Bloomfield Middle School; Christy Jones, Bloomfield Elementary School; Renee Douglas, Boston School; Ronda Bertrand, Cox’s Creek Elementary School; Carol Ballard, FHES; Becky Collins, ELC/AM; Valerie Keeling, ELC/PM; and Barb Erickson, New Haven School.

The volunteer coordinator’s job is to facilitate volunteerism in Nelson County Schools by coordinating and recruiting volunteers at the school level and ensuring adequate training is provided for assigned responsibilities. Coordinators report to the principal or the principal’s designee.

“I feel like the parents need to feel welcome,” Newton said, noting that the needs will likely vary in each setting and between grade levels.

“I do think it will take a while to build into this,” Newton said. “Each volunteer coordinator will need to assess the school and find out where and what the needs are.”

“It’s kind of an unknown at both ends. I think we’ll have to start slow and build,” Newton said, mentioning the importance of addressing concerns, such as confidentiality, while working closely with the principals to make sure the effort is beneficial.

For her part, Durbin has already created and distributed a TNHS Staff Volunteer Survey to collect information about school needs that volunteers may help address.

“This is our way of getting started – survey the teachers to find out where the needs are. Get the surveys back. Go over the data. Then contact the parents and solicit support,” Durbin said. “We’re reaching out to parents.”

A luncheon has been scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 11, for the volunteer coordinators to meet together to discuss and share ideas regarding the volunteer program.