WALLENPAUPACK - To the many volunteers who have taken time out of their day to assist the children and staff at Wallenpaupack North Primary School, they were presented with a program of gratitude recently.
Every year nearly 45 volunteers spend hours of their day at the school, working one-on-one with students to reinforce skills for beginning reading and mathematics concepts or aiding the teachers when necessary. That, Principal Tony Cavallaro told a gymnasium full of students, staff and volunteers is an example of how helping others is important since it sets examples for others and, it can make a person feel good.
The volunteer program was started throughout the district nearly 20 years ago, said Head Teacher Denise Genello who runs the program. Now, each year the volunteers are honored in the various buildings they spend their time, as they arrive faithfully every week on set days and so, teachers rely on them, as they offer assistance.
The assembly started with a moment of silence to honor the late Eva H. Muehter who was a teacher in New Jersey and later volunteered in the North Primary School, where she was given the respect of a grandmother Cavallaro told the students. Watching Muehter with the students, that gave him great joy as he saw them read together.
Genello too, spoke of Muehter who spent 22 years in the school after retiring, as she was a “talented educator.” Or, in town Muehter was often busy volunteering at her church or the library since she was an “exceptional individual” that the students should remember.
Members of the community, Genello said play an important role in preparing students so they become “productive members of society.” She cited research that indicates parents’ involvement in school activities positively affects children, which is true for the volunteers too, who share their knowledge with students. That is important, since students are “our most important resource” Genello said. Together, there is a goal to educate children so they become productive and happy members of their community.
Because there are students who need individual attention, that in itself is a significant reason why the volunteers’ support is so important Genello said, since teachers are then able to provide that personal assistance. The volunteers at the school, “enhance the educational experience in many ways,” which makes them an “important part of this school community.”
While they are not official staff, Genello said the volunteers share some of the same responsibilities and so, they each “make a difference” since their “generosity has a profound and lasting impact” on the students. Their wanting to give of themselves to help others, that speaks of their strength and character. But, it is because of their efforts that they will make a “tangible impact.” Their dedication, Genello said is immensely appreciated and so, she hopes the volunteers realize how significant their commitment is.
Pauline Imbro-Allen has volunteered at the school for eight years with Twiggy, her Yorkshire Terrier who is a certified therapy dog. Imbro-Allen said she spends her time at the school, simply because she enjoys the children and promoting reading with the help of Twiggy, since the children enjoy reading to her. Doris Singer has volunteered at the school for six years now, just because she loves kids she said. When she is able, Singer will work in the classrooms or play the piano. The students especially like when she brings her husband’s drum pieces to the class and they get to try the bells and items they likely would not otherwise.
Together, with their hands over their hearts the students sang the National Anthem and said the Pledge of Allegiance.
To the custodians and cafeteria workers, Cavallaro expressed his appreciation to them for setting the program up and preparing breakfast for the volunteers, as well as to Genello for managing the program and the volunteers who work all year.
The students sang and danced for the volunteers, who watched with smiles.