How Can We Increase Volunteers in Our Public Schools? (by Raymond Kuhns)

Evergreen Middle School

29850 NW Evergreen Road

Hillsboro, OR 97124

 

Dear Celia Murray:

My name is Raymond Kuhns and I am volunteering at Evergreen Middle School to fill a requirement for my writing class. We never met in person and only exchanged a few emails; you probably know me better through my stepson (name removed) who attends Evergreen Middle School.  I am writing you today to talk about a change in your organization. This change is a concept that should be planted and grow within ourselves, students, the local businesses, and communities surrounding the school district. I am sure you are aware of all the obstacles Evergreen is facing this year, but the one I want to talk about is the lack of a marketing/advertising plan; specifically the internal organization of volunteers to help reduce the stress of the teaching profession and increase volunteer numbers.

The biggest problem I faced was scheduling. I was left to schedule my hours with the teachers. I had to talk to several teachers, work with their schedules, and was left disappointed when the teachers were sick or only had an hour’s worth of work for me. This can be discouraging to your volunteers and stressful for your teachers to find volunteers tasks.

What did I learn from the ordeal? The internal organization of volunteers is critical in keeping a volunteer force at Evergreen. I understand that everyone at every school is overworked and is wearing multiple hats to meet the demand. I am saying that there needs to be a dedicated person whose only responsibility is finding and coordinating volunteers to meet the demand of the school and teachers. I know that if there was one person who I had to interface with, instead of hunting down teachers for hours, it would have been a more enjoyable experience for me.

Another tool Evergreen should consider is internal organizational flow to find volunteers for specific events and day to day operations. The Glenco Little Shop of Horrors trip is a great example of this. Being a registered volunteer for Evergreen, I only learned about this event through another parent that got the email forwarded to her. This email came from one of the teachers. If you coordinated this you could have included all the people from the database you keep of volunteers who have completed a background check, reducing the work load for the teacher and meeting the demand required. A marking/advertising plan would outline the processes your staff would take for the needed volunteer force. A teacher could contact the volunteer coordinator and request as many volunteers as needed for an event. The coordinator would then advertise the event and the need through the media desired. This would save time for the teacher and get them back to doing what is important, spending time educating.

The ultimate goal of a marketing/advertising plan and having one person dedicated to coordinating and finding the volunteers to meet the demand, is to reduce the stress of the teaching profession. Teresa McIntyre from the University of Houston stated, “Teaching is a highly stressful occupation. Teacher stress affects various aspects of teacher health and may influence how effective teachers are in the classroom, with potential consequences for their students’ behavior and learning” (2011). I am sure you can agree with Teresa that Evergreen teachers are stressed with a student to teacher ratio of 40:1 per classroom and anything that can be done to ease the stress should be considered.

I know that creating this position in every school will help keep the teachers teaching, reduce their stress, and keep the volunteers coming back to help. Every person I met there was respectful and fully dedicated to following their passion in educating or helping those who are educating. You have assembled a great staff and I am proud to have worked with everyone. This experience has opened my eyes to just a fraction of the problems educators face every day. I want to thank you for all your past and future efforts.

Respectfully,

Raymond D Kuhns

Works Cited

 

Carroll, Melissa. “University of Houston.” News: New UH Research Study Links Job Stress in Teachers to Student Achievement. University of Houston News, 25 May 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. <http://www.uh.edu/news-events/stories/2011articles/May2011/teacherstress.php&gt;.

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THE RESEARCH COLLECTION 

The Research Question: Can a marketing/advertising plan with internal organization of volunteers help reduce the stress of the teaching profession and increase volunteering numbers?

 

Works Cited

Achilles, Charles M. “Class Size and Student Learning.” Encyclopedia of Education. Ed. James W. Guthrie. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2003. 314-317. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 19 Nov. 2012.

Summary:

Charles Achillies shows in this article the math to compare students to teach ratio and the effects of a small classroom versus a large classroom. He also proves that smaller classroom have better outcomes for the students with higher graduation rates. These graduation rates show higher honor grads. Charles research also shows that it’s not about teacher student interaction; the direct relation to better outcomes is class size. This has a large authoritative presence because it was published in the Encyclopedia of Education and many of the sources for this article are from Professionals who are trying to understand and change the way we educate.

Analysis:

The unstated stress of the teaching profession is class size. I could have provided numbers for the class size around the country, but I feel its common knowledge that our schools are overcrowded. Instead I found research that shows a direct relationship between class size and educational results from students. This source shows the major factor causing teacher stress.

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Carroll, Melissa. “University of Houston.” News: New UH Research Study Links Job Stress in Teachers to Student Achievement. University of Houston News, 25 May 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. <http://www.uh.edu/news-events/stories/2011articles/May2011/teacherstress.php&gt;.

Summary:

Melissa Carroll did an article on Teresa McIntyre who supports the idea and is researching the stress of the teaching profession. Teresa is a professor of psychology at University of Houston. She has spent 17 years researching traumatic stress with war-afflicted populations for veterans and civilians. During this time she has also focused on stress in the medical profession. She has decided to research stress for middle school teachers. Her research is being funded by Institute of Education Sciences a branch under the Department of Education. A great source for me because this an outline of the study that is currently happening and it’s from The University of Houston which is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation’s best colleges for undergraduate education.

Analysis:

Teresa states in the article that teacher stress affects students’ behavior and learning. This relates to my question by showing that stressed teacher affect behavior and learning of our children. If a person was endangering our children we would remove them, but in this case teacher stress is the problem and we have done very little to remove, solve, or understand the problem.

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Hollis, Nigel. “Why Good Advertising Works (Even When You Think It Doesn’t).” The Atlantic. Millward Brown, 31 Aug. 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. <http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/08/why-good-advertising-works-even-when-you-think-it-doesnt/244252/&gt;.

Summary:

The author, Nigel Hollis, is chief global analyst at Millward Brown, a global market research company. He also published his own book The Global Brand. Nigel goes over how and why marketing works. He states it’s a slow and repetitive process that takes time to seep into your memories. Marketing is not the magic bullet to get people do to what you want; it’s getting your target market to remember you message when a trigger reminds them of your ads.

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