All In: Generosity of Volunteers Benefits Students and Teachers
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to share a few thoughts with a group of individuals who volunteer in our schools. They are members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and they work with teachers in many Montgomery County schools to enrich and support students in math, science and computer science. They bring a real-world perspective to the academic learning in our classrooms.
Currently, 111 teachers in 26 elementary and 40 secondary schools have a volunteer working with them on a regular basis. Each week, 7,000 to 10,000 students are positively impacted by these scientists, mathematicians and computer scientists who are currently working in their field or who have retired. They are individuals like Rob Thomas who, in addition to leading the volunteer program in Montgomery County, volunteers at Sherwood High School each week with a chemistry teacher.
I am incredibly thankful for the work they do. They are positively affecting students now and into their futures. This partnership with AAAS has been in existence for 16 years. Imagine how many teachers and students have been influenced by these volunteers.
While it is obvious that they have a positive effect on the students in the classes where they volunteer, they may not realize they are also affecting those students who come to the teachers’ classrooms next year and for many years in the future. When they help the teacher learn new ways of thinking about science and mathematics, that learning stays with the teacher long after the volunteers are gone. That learning benefits all of the students that teacher serves during their career. This is job-embedded professional learning at its best.
They build relationships with teachers. When they are in our classrooms, they model teamwork for our students. This real-life example of collaboration gives students a firsthand look at a valuable and employable skill.
They serve as role models and can also be advocates for students. They are also talent scouts, encouraging students to think about careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They inspire friends, neighbors and relatives, or others thinking about a career change, to consider teaching.
Our school system has a strong interest in continuing the successful relationship with AAAS. Indeed, it would be beneficial to expand the program into more schools and classrooms. There are nearly 80,000 Montgomery County public school students enrolled in science courses at the secondary level. At least 13 of our elementary schools have dedicated STEM coordinators or teachers.
When AAAS volunteers are in our schools and classrooms, our students benefit, our teachers benefit and our community benefits.
Thank you to the volunteers for all you do on a regular basis. Your generosity in sharing your professional knowledge and love of learning extends far beyond the classroom walls.