By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
It doesn’t take a degree in education to help out at local schools. All it takes is the ability to play kickball, eat lunch, or read a book.
Last month, Bowling Green School Board President Ginny Stewart challenged the community to help out at schools. Since then, Stewart has been approached by many with questions of how they can help.
So at this month’s school board meeting on Tuesday, the district’s five principals elaborated on how local residents can help.
Crim Principal Alyssa Karaffa said her school is in need of playground volunteers who can actually play with the children. The school has playground monitors, but they can’t spend time playing games with the students.
Children often don’t know how to play simple games like 4-square, hopscotch and kickball. So it would be great to have some volunteers to teach the games and then participate, Karaffa said.
“They really would enjoy that,” she said of the children.
Crim could also use volunteers to help with morning reading, and with its lunch buddies program.
Kenwood Elementary also needs volunteers to help at recess, plus people to just sit with the children at breakfast or lunch. No pre-registration is needed, Principal Kathleen Daney said. Volunteers can just show up between 11 a.m. and 1:20 p.m. to help.
It would also be helpful to have adults to help students with reading or math.
“I would match you up with a student who would use another adult in their life,” Daney said.
Conneaut Elementary could also use volunteers on the playground and at lunchtime.
“They love to have interaction with adults,” Principal Jim Lang said of the students.
The school also has a Breakfast Buddies program, where adults can share breakfast with a child every week.
Conneaut also has a chess club which meets on Monday mornings, that only has one adult involved. More adults would be helpful, Lang said.
Volunteers could also help by developing a relationship with a teacher, and coming in once a week to help in the classroom.
Middle School Principal Eric Radabaugh said volunteers are being sought to help with an upcoming Career Day on May 24. The school would like to have about 40 different careers represented for students.
The middle school is also using a “book swap” program to promote literacy. So book donations would be helpful. “We would gladly take those,” Radabaugh said.
Volunteers are needed to help with various after school groups. And middle school students are “not too cool” to enjoy being joined by an adult for lunch, he said.
High School Principal Jeff Dever said volunteers are always needed to help with band, choir and orchestra. But what the high school really needs is fewer entrances to ensure safety, and more consistent heating and ventilating, Dever said.
During a meeting with a parent recently, Dever and the parent had to leave his office because the clanging from the heat was so loud.
The high school also needs another large open area. Currently the fifth period study hall takes place in the gym – which is not conducive to learning, he said.
Stewart suggested that citizens wanting to help can always send in monetary donations, or make contributions in honor of a teacher, a birthday or a loved one.
“Money is never turned down,” she said.
The community can also help by supplementing efforts by teachers to feed hungry students.
“Hunger in our schools is pervasive,” Stewart said. “Sometimes the food that they get at our schools is the only food they get.”
Teachers often provide food for students, but it would be helpful if citizens donated healthy, packaged snacks.
“They will get used by students who are hungry,” she said.
Some students also lack proper winter clothing, Stewart said.
“We have kids who don’t have coats or winter boots,” she said. Stewart suggested people donate good used winter clothing, or purchase new clothing for students in need.
“It will certainly get utilized,” she said.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Kenwood Principal Kathleen Daney and fifth grade intervention specialist Andrew Haughawout talked about a book study at Kenwood that has led teachers to make some changes in their interactions with students.
Rather than praising a student’s intelligence, they now try to praise the efforts they make. The change encourages students to continue trying, especially when the work is challenging.
Daney explained that while she grew up with the notion that someone’s IQ was a fixed number, it actually changes throughout life.
“It was an ‘aha’ moment for me,” she said.
Also at the meeting, Superintendent Francis Scruci explained the timing for decisions on school delays or closings due to bad weather.
The first decision has to be made by 5:30 a.m., since that’s when buses first start getting ready for the day. If a delay is called, but later a decision is made to close for the day, that call must be made by 7:30 a.m.
“We’re trying to keep our students and staff safe,” Scruci said.