New VIP “Volunteer in Person” program makes getting involved in your local schools easy
Have you ever considered volunteering to read to a child, helping out in a classroom, or assist a classroom on a field trip? These volunteer opportunities and many others will be easier this school year thanks to Walla Walla Public Schools’ new volunteer program, VIP – Volunteer in Person. VIP features a one-stop, easy-to-use online volunteer management system. Those interested in volunteering, whether a parent, grandparent, community member or local businessperson, will simply visit the district or any school website and click on the VIP logo graphic. This will allow you to see what volunteer opportunities are available by school, complete an online onboarding and background check process, and sign up for volunteer opportunities. Interested parents or community members can register to volunteer for a specific event, classroom, experience or signup to be contacted when their assistance may be needed.
During the extensive strategic planning process last school year, Superintendent Dr. Wade Smith says there was strong feedback from stakeholders and staff to expand volunteer opportunities and streamline the process.
“Goal 4 of our new Strategic Plan – Vision 2030 is centered on leveraging partnerships with families and the community,” said Dr. Smith. “We know we can’t do this alone, that is why we are committed to maximizing family engagement and enhancing volunteer opportunities across our schools.”
What do volunteers do? There are vast opportunities to tutor and mentor students, chaperone activities, assist teachers, have lunch with students, help out in the office and so much more. The goals of VIP are to enrich the overall school experience and enhance learning opportunities.
Longtime community leader Beth Swanson is serving as the district’s Volunteer Coordinator through a partnership with Communities in Schools. She has been busy creating the VIP website and working with schools to see where they need help.
“We are focused on enhancing all aspects of the educational process,” said Swanson. “VIP allows volunteers to choose the type of volunteer experience they would like to have, how much time they want to commit and where they would like to help out.”
If someone has previously signed up to volunteer and gone through a background check in the last two years, they will automatically be enrolled in the new VIP system and receive an email notifying them of their next steps to complete the process.
Question? Will parents need to sign up for the VIP program?
Answer: For most parents, the answer is No. See details below:
• When a parent stops by to eat lunch with their child, attend a classroom or school celebration, or drop something off to the classroom, enrolling in and registering for an account in the VIP Volunteer Program is NOT necessary.
• To be considered a volunteer, parents are most often working in a capacity supporting students who are not their own, or in a non-parent role capacity. This includes assisting teachers or staff at the school, attending a field trip where they are helping supervise other children, or assisting at a school or district event. Under these circumstances parents are deemed volunteers and will need to enroll and have a VIP volunteer account.
For all new volunteers, getting started is easy.
1. Visit the VIP website at https://wwps.galaxydigital.com/
2. Create an account
3. Review volunteer handbook and complete background check
4. Review volunteer opportunities
5. Schedule a volunteer assignment
For more information, contact Beth Swanson, Communities in Schools.