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Volunteer your time and talent
by MARK ST.J. COUHIGSequim Gazette
The new school year means new books, new students, a few new teachers and lots of fresh opportunities to volunteer.
Lending a hand at the local schools is very popular: last year 750 volunteers signed up to work in Sequim District schools.
Most say the effort is well worth it, including 82-year-old Peyton Greenough, who helps teach reading at Greywolf Elementary.
He admitted he’s never been one to spend a lot of time with children, but his view has been changed by a few well-timed hugs from the 6- and 7-year-olds in teacher Monique Brashear’s classroom at Greywolf Elementary.
And working with Brashear — witnessing her constant good and loving methods — is a joyful inspiration, Greenough said.
Not always fun and games
Those who want to share in the rewarding fun may be surprised to learn that times have changed.
The days of simply calling a teacher and volunteering “whenever” are long gone.
For the safety of the students, the district must run a clearance check on every individual, every year through the Washington State Patrol. Individuals interested in volunteering in the schools must first fill out an application and submit a copy of their Washington State driver’s license. Clearance checks are run in batches and can take a few days to be processed.
Sequim District Volunteer Coordinator Patsene Dashiell said to ensure they are eligible to lend a hand, parents and other volunteers should turn in an application to the district office “at least two weeks in advance of the date the individual wishes to begin volunteering.”
That doesn’t apply only to those who have a regular schedule of duties in the classroom. It also applies to parents helping out once on a field trip and those participating in booster clubs, such as band, choir and football, to name a few.
Even Jean Hasenpflug, who helps out in her son Dave’s classroom — and has for more than a decade — has to go through the paces. Dave Hasenpflug teaches at Helen Haller Elementary.
Because that’s the case, “Parents should fill out an application form at the beginning of each school year as a matter of practice if they plan to help out at school or wish to go on field trips,” Dashiell said.
The process is fairly simple. The application form is available on the district website (www.sequim.k12.wa.us), at the district office or at any of the school offices.
‘It’s a good thing’
Elizabeth Skov volunteers at Helen Haller Elementary in the classroom and with the exercise program. She also works with the elementary school running program.
“I worked with Mrs. (Rebecca) Stanton and Mrs. (Ione) Marcy — we had a lot of fun. We’re all runners and we love promoting kids doing healthy things.”
Skov also found a larger opportunity. “At the high school, I was going to just volunteer with the track team — because I love running — but I ended up being one of the assistant coaches. You don’t make much money, but it’s fun.”
Marcy added, “I don’t think there’s enough money anywhere in the United States to fund extracurricular activities — art, music sports. Anything you can do — an hour a week — is really helpful.”
Skov also said the background check is “a good thing. I’m glad they’re very strict. Even if you’re a parent you can’t be in the classroom unless you’ve gone through a background check. I’m all for that.”
If you want to know more about volunteering in the Sequim schools, call Volunteer Coordinator Patsene Dashiell, 582-3264.
Reach Mark Couhig at firstname.lastname@example.org.