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The gift of time and talent: A study of volunteerism in an elementary school

1 December 1993


The focus of this study is "Volunteerism in an Elementary School." It is intended to provide insight on: the need and desire for volunteers in an elementary school; the tasks that volunteers are given; volunteers' satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their roles in schools; the school/volunteer partnerships that have or have not been" established; the costs and/or rewards involved in using volunteers. Also addressed is the question of who these volunteers are and why they are willing to share their time and talents with teachers and children. This paper reveals a variety of attitudes and impressions from teachers as well as volunteers.

My research was based on qualitative inquiry, done primarily through observations and interviews at an elementary school. J found that there were teachers who needed and appreciated the extra help that volunteers could provide, (namely the kindergarten teachers), and others who were opposed to having outside help in the classroom. I learned that the parents helping in the school were, for the most part, satisfied with the work they were doing. In speaking with several parent helpers, I was informed that they were in the school because they wanted to be there, for themselves and for their children.

In my analysis, I have concluded that the everyday benefits of volunteerism are apparent mainly to those who really use and depend on volunteers. Those who do not rely on outside help feel that the time invested in training and supervising volunteers may not be worth the rewards. The ideal situation, which would most likely take some funding, would include a volunteer program coordinator who could be responsible for recruiting, screening, training, supervising and evaluating school volunteers, thus removing some of the burden from faculty members and giving students a chance to reap the benefits that volunteers can provide.


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