What started with 12 volunteers in 1969 has grown to approximately 8,600 Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS), who will celebrate 40 years of service this month.
Schools are being encouraged to recognize the efforts of their VIPS during the week of March 27 to April 3. The VIPS Office is sending a list of suggested activities.
Former Board of Education member Arlene Solomon was the PTA Area Advisor during that first year in 1969 when she approached two elementary school principals about the idea of recruiting volunteers to help in the classroom. She opened her home to the first group of volunteers.
Forty years later, thousands of volunteers now provide direct assistance to students throughout the district.
“A lot of it happened by word of mouth,” Solomon said. “It started during the turmoil of the ’60s and people said, ‘I want to get involved.’ It was just something that caught on.”
Today’s VIPS assist small groups of students or individual children. Some keep classroom records or perform other essential clerical tasks, freeing teachers to focus attention where it can be of most benefit to students.
“We deeply appreciate the tireless work of our volunteers,” said Christopher J. Steinhauser, superintendent of schools. “They are a big reason why our student achievement continues to improve. We’ve built a national reputation for excellence, and we couldn’t have done it without our VIPS.”
Before setting foot in the classroom, volunteers are trained in how to interact with students to maximize motivation and help contribute to a positive classroom environment.
During these lean times for public education, their work is especially important and contributes to student success. VIPS contribute thousands of hours of volunteer time each week, which equates to tens of millions of dollars in donated time, based upon national volunteer service rates. More than a hundred LBUSD employees started out as volunteers here.