Volunteers Celebrate 35 Years of Service

Volunteers In Public Schools, known in every Long Beach Unified School District school and office as VIPS, recently celebrated its 35th anniversary. Now more than 5,000 members strong, VIPS provides direct assistance to thousands of students in classrooms throughout the district. VIPS contribute by working directly with students or by preparing educational materials and assisting teachers and other school staff. They assist small groups of students or individual children. Some keep classroom records or perform other essential clerical tasks, freeing the teacher to focus special instructional attention where it can be of most benefit to students. Before setting foot in classrooms, volunteers receive training preparing them for any of the roles they may be asked to fill. This training leads to greater teacher confidence in VIPS and less time spent by teachers monitoring the action of volunteers. Volunteers are also trained in how to interact with students to maximize motivation and help contribute to creating a positive classroom environment. "Mother of VIPS" Arlene Solomon, a former Board of Education member, was honored at a recent Board meeting for her key role in founding the organization. While serving as president of the Long Beach PTA Council, Solomon opened her home to VIPS organizers and led the drive to bring VIPS to all schools. Early efforts drew 12 volunteers that first year but VIPS soon grew into a national model for school volunteer efforts that now numbers in the thousands. Solomon was praised by the Board for her "continuous, enthusiastic support of VIPS."