Lend a hand

Published 12:46 am Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Citizens who believe children are the future will soon have an opportunity to personally impact that future.

Volunteers in School (VIS) will be a group of volunteers involved in the Andalusia City Schools system, from kindergarten through the 12th grade. These volunteers will assist students and personnel in many different areas, including tutoring, mentoring and clerical work.

Marrianne Dubose, chairperson of VIS, said the program is still in its planning stages but organizers have high hopes for it.

“Right now, we’re just trying to make a list of those who might be able to help with the volunteering,” she said. “That list may consist of parents, grandparents, retired citizens, neighbors, friends — just any one who’s willing to help the children in our city school system.”

Those who wish to volunteer in the program must be at least 19 years old, have completed at least a high school education and must pass a strict background check. To apply, prospective volunteers can fill out a form at the ACS Web site (www.andalusiacityschools.net) or call the ACS central office at 222-3186. The deadline for applications is Mon., Sept.14.

Upon submitting an application, prospective volunteers will be told when and where to attend orientation.

“We wanted to have one for every time of the day, so that anyone can attend the orientation, regardless of their work schedule,” Dubose said.

Dubose said the goal is to have volunteers in place in the city schools by Oct. 1.

“We’ve met with the principals and there are a variety of needs these volunteers could meet,” she said. “There will probably be a long of on-site assistance with tutoring — that could be anything from going over vocabulary words with a student, or going through flash cards, or reading a book. We’ve also gotten some requests for mentors for our middle and high school students.

Andalusia Elementary School principal Patty Taylor said volunteers could help reduce the workload on teachers and other personnel.

“I’m sure they could help with some clerical work, making copies and that sort of thing,” she said. “I could also see some of them working in the classrooms and maybe reading to a child, or going over flash cards. They wouldn’t be a full-time teacher, but they could definitely help our teachers and meet the needs of some of those kids who need a little extra help.”

Andalusia Middle School principal Ted Watson said volunteers could help meet the needs of the kids who might otherwise “fall through the cracks.”

Dubose said the hope is for the VIS program to get off and running, and continue to be a useful companion for the city schools — and perhaps the county schools in the future — for years to come. She also noted the program is not meant to compete with the existing Parent-Teacher Association.

“Our PTA is just wonderful,” said Dubose, who has a child at AES. “We’re not looking to compete with them, but instead we want to work with them. We all have the same goal of helping our kids.

“I don’t want people to think that this my program, either. This is our program — it’s for our kids, our schools and our community. We want it to be the best it can be.”

For more information about the VIS program, visit www.andalusiacityschools.net or call 334-222-3186.