Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. — Dr. Seuss
The Seaside School volunteers are fellow community members: parents, students, business partners, professional people, and retired citizens. They share their special knowledge, concern, skills, hobbies and talents to provide support and enrichment for the instructional programs, fundraising, school functions, assistance in the main office, and maintenance of the school buildings.
There are many areas in which you can volunteer:
- Mentoring Program
- Robotics Program
- Tutoring and classroom support
- Seaside Half Marathon and 5K Run
- School Garden
- Maintenance of school buildings
- Assist with front office duties
Becoming a School Volunteer
If you are not yet a Seaside School volunteer, you can become one in two ways. After a brief telephone interview and completion of the volunteer application, the Seaside Volunteer Coordinator will match your talents and interests to a volunteer job that you will enjoy. Following a criminal background check and approval, the Seaside’s volunteer coordinator will conduct a volunteer orientation and place you in your volunteer position.
To help with your placement, consider these questions:
- Would you like to work directly with students?
- What kind of volunteer job would you like to do?
- What days and/or hours do you prefer?
- How much time do you want to commit to a volunteer job?
- What professional and life experiences could bring to your volunteer experience?
- What are you looking for in your volunteer experience?
- What languages do you speak?
You do not need a teaching certificate. All you need is:
Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
- A genuine interest in helping students
- A commitment to your volunteer activity
- A cooperative attitude with faculty and staff
- Training as recommended for your volunteer placement
- Training required for mentors (if applicable)
- Regular attendance
- Good health
Florida Volunteer Protection Act
Florida Torts Code Section 768.1355
(1) Any person who volunteers to perform any service for any nonprofit organization, including an officer or director of such organization, without compensation, except reimbursement for actual expenses, shall be considered an agent of such nonprofit organization when acting within the scope of any official duties performed under such volunteer services. Such person shall incur no civil liability for any act or omission by such person which results in personal injury or property damage if: (a) Such person was acting in good faith within the scope of any official duties performed under such volunteer service and such person was acting as an ordinary reasonably prudent person would have acted under the same or similar circumstances; and (b) The injury or damage was not caused by any wanton or willful misconduct on the part of such person in the performance of such duties. 1. For purposes of this act, the term “nonprofit organization” means any organization which is exempt from taxation pursuant to 26 U.S.C. s. 501, or any federal, state, or local governmental entity. 2. For purposes of this act, the term “compensation” does not include a stipend as provided by the Domestic Service Volunteer Act of 1973, as amended (Pub. L. No. 93-113), or other financial assistance, valued at less than two-thirds of the federal hourly minimum wage standard, paid to a person who would otherwise be financially unable to provide the volunteer service. (2) Except as otherwise provided by law, if a volunteer is determined to be not liable pursuant to subsection (1), the nonprofit organization for which the volunteer was performing services when the damages were caused shall be liable for such damages to the same extent as the nonprofit organization would have been liable if the liability limitation pursuant to subsection (1) had not been provided. (3) Members of elected or appointed boards, councils, and commissions of the state, counties, municipalities, authorities, and special districts shall incur no civil liability and shall have immunity from suit as provided in s. 768.28 for acts or omissions by members relating to members’ conduct of their official duties. It is the intent of the Legislature to encourage our best and brightest people to serve on elected and appointed boards, councils, and commissions. (4) This section may be cited as the “Florida Volunteer Protection Act.”
Seaside Volunteer Registration Process
To become a Seaside School volunteer, an individual must complete a volunteer application (application can be found on the FORMS page). Completing this process does not guarantee placement. For the safety of our students, all registered volunteers are required to pass a criminal background check. Individuals desiring volunteer assignments in school system facilities must provide personal information required to perform this check. The school reserves the right to refuse volunteer assignments to individuals who fail to meet standards established the Walton County School District. Mentors and other volunteers who work with students in a non-supervised (out of visual and/or auditory contact) school-based setting are required to pass a Level II background check (fingerprints for national criminal background check).
Sign In/Identification/Sign Out/Log Hours
Principals are responsible for the safety of their students and, therefore, for all persons on their campuses. It is a school district requirement and a responsibility of the volunteer to follow the safe campus procedures. Volunteers must:
- Report to the school office before beginning your volunteer activity.
- Present a driver’s license or state identification to be scanned through the EasyLobby system and receive an Identification Badge that must be worn at all times on campus. EasyLobby is part of the state- and district-required security program that scans for sexual predators and offenders through a continuously updated national database.
- Parent volunteers are required to log volunteer hours and submit a copy to the front office each nine weeks.
- Wear the EasyLobby generated badge while on campus and during volunteer activity to ensure that the school staff and students can easily identify volunteers approved to be on campus.
- Sign in, sign out and be sure to log all hours in the appropriate categories.
Recording volunteer hours is a requirement of the Florida Department of Education. Community involvement is often a criterion for the awarding of grant money to schools and to the district.
Volunteer Job Descriptions
There are many exciting volunteer opportunities at Seaside Neighborhood School.
These volunteers provide direct services to one or more students on a regular basis. Typically tutors and mentors are in this category. For those instructional volunteers who work one-to-one with students in unsupervised school-based settings, special registration and approval processes are required by the district.
A tutor may work one-to-one with a student or with small groups of students who need either enrichment or remedial help in academic subjects to reinforce basic skills. Duties may include reading, special projects, etc. Placements are made with students from sixth through ninth grades.
Mentors are local business owners and professionals who share their knowledge and talents with a small group of students six times per semester. Mentoring dates are established at the beginning of the year. Mentors working along with students are required to have Level 2 clearance.
“If we want them to achieve, we must link them with achievers….One plus one — Pass it on.” (H. Weinberg, The Public Television Outreach Alliance)
Students are taught by community faculty members through the mentoring program. Students meet six times each semester with their mentors. Seaside believes “If we want them to achieve, we must link them with achievers….One plus one — Pass it on.” (H. Weinberg, The Public Television Outreach Alliance).
The goals of the community/mentoring program are to give students the opportunity to explore career possibilities and to build relationships with professionals in their community. Too often students are not aware of career choices until they have to declare a major in college or choose training in a technical field. Here at Seaside, students discover career choices at an early age so that when it comes time for them to make a decision; they will have a broader base of choices from which to choose. Classes in the mentoring program have included: architecture, video editing, performing and visual arts, culinary arts, business and finance, leadership training, dentistry, optometry, fire fighting, environmental studies, yoloboarding, life guard training, scuba certification, and community service. Classes change each semester and year.
Mentoring is for six days each semester on Wednesdays. The time is from 8:00-9:30 a.m.
Support Services Volunteers
These volunteers provide assistance to school personnel on a regular basis. Classroom and office/clerical helpers, community DJs, and field trip chaperones are in this category.
Volunteers work closely with the classroom teacher, assisting in various projects and interacting with students. Duties may include preparing bulletin boards, working on special projects, operating audiovisual equipment, performing clerical duties, making instructional materials, and reviewing homework.
Clerical assistants help the support staff at a school or administrative center. Volunteers perform a variety of school duties, as assigned by staff members, which may include those of receptionist, typist, computer input operator, telephone operator, and other office worker (filing, copying, mailing).
Library/Media Center Assistant
Volunteers in the school library/media center help fill teacher and student requests for services. They may also work at the circulation desk, catalog and shelve books, use a computer, mend books, and operate audiovisual equipment. The volunteer may also help students with research and special projects or read aloud to them.
30A Radio is a low-power FM community radio station. WTHA is a broadcast service of the Seaside Neighborhood School. The station relies on volunteer community DJs to host shows and play a block of music. DJs also assist in instructing Seaside students on radio production.
Volunteer chaperones have the opportunity to enjoy museums, exhibits, musicals, and plays as they accompany students and teachers on field trips.
Volunteers work with students using the computer. Volunteers may be involved in helping students with computerized instructional programs or training students to use the computer.
Activities volunteers lend a hand to support school extracurricular clubs, groups and events. Areas of involvement include sports, assisting with robotics, art, music, dance, and drama programs.
Volunteers speak to classes or groups on topics related to their careers, hobbies or interests. Volunteers provide enriching experiences for classrooms, small groups, or assemblies.
Volunteer activities usually take place on the school grounds during school hours under general supervision of school personnel. Volunteers should not be alone with a student but should select a location where they are in visual or auditory contact with a school employee, (e.g., the media center, a picnic table, etc.) Exceptions can include chaperoned field trips, school-sponsored athletic activities, extra-curricular events and “at-home” volunteer projects such as creating newsletters or helping classroom teachers. Regardless of when and where you volunteer, all volunteers for Seaside Neighborhood School must complete a volunteer application and affedavit and document volunteer hours.
Reasons for Rejection or Dismissal
Individuals who do not meet requirements for volunteers working with children, as established by state law and Walton County School District policy and procedures, will not be accepted into the program. If a volunteer does not conform to the guidelines outlined in this guide, the administrator may suggest alternative activities or assignments. If this option does not meet with success, the administrator may terminate the volunteer’s placement. Volunteers will not be placed or will be dismissed if they falsify any information on the Volunteer Application Form.
According to School Board policy, volunteers must keep all information about a student completely confidential. Discussion of a student is restricted to the student’s teacher, guidance counselor, or appropriate member of the school’s administration. A misplaced comment can be devastating to a student, a family, and the volunteer program. Volunteers who breach confidentiality will be dismissed.
Reliability is expected because teachers and the school staff plan for volunteer assistance. A volunteer who needs to be absent should call the school as soon as possible to inform the teacher and the volunteer coordinator of the absence. Please check classroom calendars for upcoming special events, (e.g., assemblies and field trips) to see if volunteer services will be needed on that particular day.
Since volunteers serve as role models, their behavior and dress must be exemplary. Use of profanity, drugs, or alcohol is never tolerated, nor is making “advances” to a student, political or religious proselytizing, selling merchandise, or promoting a business. The job is that of a volunteer, but the commitment is that of a professional.
Reporting Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect
Any person who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare must report such knowledge or suspicion to the Department of Children and Families. Reporting procedure is outlined on the Fact Sheet found in this guide.
Volunteers should not touch students in an aggressive, disciplinary, or sexual manner. It is the teacher’s responsibility to discipline the students.
Volunteers are not permitted to administer medication. Since many children are afflicted with allergies, please do not bring food, cookies or candy as a reward or treat. To be fair to all the children, gifts are strongly discouraged.
Acceptable Use Policy for Computers, Networks & Information Technologies
As stated in the School Board approved “Acceptable Use Policy” volunteers must adhere to the same computer and network policies as school staff including no use of school board computers or the school district network for any illegal activity or for any private purposes, including any private business purpose.
Remember…volunteer work that is done with a sense of commitment, open-mindedness, resourcefulness and initiative is a very rewarding experience.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How to become a volunteer?
Any person interested in volunteering may do so by contacting Lisa Porter, volunteer coordinator at Seaside School, 850-231-0396. Those interested will be asked to complete a volunteer application. The application includes a criminal background check. This application can be downloaded from the school website under FORMS.
What are the qualifications to become a school volunteer?
The qualifications necessary to be a school volunteer are a personal desire to help, a sincere interest in students, an ability to follow school procedures and policies, and a willingness to make a definite time commitment. Any training needed will be provided by the school-based volunteer coordinator and the person the volunteer works with at school. A teaching background is not required as volunteers work under the direction of a school’s professional staff.
May volunteers bring their preschool child with them?
No, bringing pre-school children to school presents a liability issue for the school. In addition, having a very young child in a classroom interrupts class procedures, disrupts the students, and prevents the volunteer from giving full attention to the work the teacher has prepared. Some school volunteers with pre-school children have formed a cooperative babysitting service among them and take turns with babysitting. This can be worked out among volunteers at individual schools. Volunteers with young children at home can, however, still help the school by making arrangements to do work at home or help with special events.
When friends and neighbors ask about the volunteer’s work and the school, what may the volunteer share with them?
Volunteers can be a big help in representing the school to the community. Talking about involvement in volunteering in the schools may inspire others to volunteer. However, volunteers may have access to “privileged information” which, naturally, should be treated as such. “Privileged information” is defined as personal records, grades, test scores, and the behavior and attitude of students. This is important school business and should never be discussed outside of the school. Criticizing school personnel and practices is not acceptable. The volunteer’s role in the school is as a professional working with other professionals.
May the volunteer choose the specific assignment?
Volunteers are placed in classrooms only with teachers who have specifically requested their assistance. A volunteer may submit a request to work with a specific teacher to the school volunteer coordinator, but the coordinator and the principal at the individual school make the decisions about volunteer placements.
What does a volunteer do about student discipline?
Disciplinary action is the legal responsibility of teachers. Volunteers should never be put in a position of having to enforce discipline. A volunteer experiencing a problem with student behavior should inform the teacher immediately.
What should a volunteer do if unable to be at a school at the assigned time?
When unable to be at the school at the assigned time, the volunteer should call or email school personnel to inform them. The teacher has planned his/her schedule according to the volunteer’s assignment. On the first visit to the school, be sure to ascertain the way in which (e.g., email, phone call) and to whom (e.g., front office staff, volunteer coordinator, teacher) the school wants absences reported.
Why is it important for volunteers to sign-in and out each time they volunteer at a school?
There are many reasons this requirement is necessary, such as but not limited to
- maintaining school security,
- verifying volunteer service which can be used as work experience for future employment,
- documenting service for liability purposes in the event of an emergency, and
- recognizing volunteers for their dedication and service.
The school may also be eligible for the Golden School Award presented each year by the Florida Department of Education for outstanding volunteer programs, which is based on the number of volunteer hours at the school and which is required for the school to be awarded the Florida Department of Education Five Star School designation.
INFORMATION VOLUNTEERS NEED TO KNOW
People you will want to know:
School Secretary _____________________________________________________
School’s Volunteer Coordinator __________________________________________
School procedures you need to know:
Emergency Drills _____________________________________________________
Dress Code _________________________________________________________
Opening & Closing Hours ______________________________________________
EasyLobby Sign-in Procedures __________________________________________
Who to call when you will be absent______________________________________
Telephone number ___________________________________________________
Room _____________________ Date to Begin _____________________
Day(s) _____________________ Time ____________________________
Supervisor’s Planning Period ___________________________________________
Home Telephone Number _____________________________________________
Volunteer Information Sheet
Date _______________________________ Phone________________________
Email: ______________________________ Fax: _________________________
Last First M.I.
Street City Zip
Special Skills: (Foreign Languages, Computer, Public Speaking, etc.)
Days Available: M T W T F S S (circle); Times Available:
What are your special interests in volunteering?
PLEASE COMPLETE THIS PAGE AND THE FOLLOWING PAGE AND RETURN TO THE VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR AT YOUR SCHOOL
FOR OFFICE USE ONLY
PALS APPROVED ______________ DATE ASSIGNED _________________
RAPTOR SCREENED & NAME TAG ____________________
PLEASE INDICATE YOUR AREAS OF INTEREST
VOLUNTEER SITUATIONS PREFERRED
_____ Working with individual children (one-to-one)
_____ Working with small groups
_____ Working with materials _____
GRADE LEVEL(S) PREFERRED _____
_____ Clerical (filing, typing, etc.)
_____ Computer lab
_____ Field trip chaperone
_____ General classroom assistance
_____ Guest speaker
_____ Library/Media Center
_____ Projects at home
_____ Reading Tutor
_____ Math Tutor
_____ Special events
_____ Student with special needs
_____ Tutoring (math, reading, writing)