In celebration of national Volunteer Appreciation Week, we’re honored to share this guest post. Read, enjoy, and come volunteer with us!
My name is Emily Chandler, a special education high school teacher from Brooklyn, New York. I’ve been volunteering with DonorsChoose.org almost as long as I’ve been a teacher. Six years of volunteering has allowed me to watch DonorsChoose.org evolve through three different offices and be amazed by all the new faces who chose to work and volunteer in the name of Educational Awesomeness. I’ve checked in thousands of thank you packages, written hundreds of thank you notes to donors… and I keep coming back for more! Why do I choose to give my time to DonorsChoose.org when I could be grading papers or even catching a post-work nap?
The Top Ten Reasons I Volunteer at DonorsChoose.org
10 – Because, in my day-to-day life I don’t get to see enough plastic googly-eyes or wear enough glitter. (Volunteers might *say* they don’t like a lap full of glitter…but I know we secretly applaud the students’ use of art materials in constructing creative thank-you notes. Seriously, teachers; sequins, construction paper, pipe cleaners and, yes, glitter are the way to a donor’s heart.)
9 – Volunteering at DonorsChoose.org positively effects how my Teacher Effectiveness is evaluated by the Danielson framework (component 1d and 4d). By working towards bringing updated books and student’s supplies into my classroom and communicating with other teacher volunteers, I’m a better rounded teacher – and it shows!
8 – Because being elbow-deep in the projects of other teachers is inspiring! The highest compliment to a teacher is to borrow their material… the same applies with projects. When I see an interesting project that is geared toward my students, I usually write a similar project of my own. My current project for organizing the back of our classroom using shoe racks was inspired by a thank-you package!
7 – On the best days, I can share my daily triumphs with fellow teacher-volunteers or joyful DonorsChoose.org employees. They always have a minute to hear about a successful field trip or lesson plan, or talk about an observation that went really well.
6 – And on some of the rough days at work, I’m grateful I choose to volunteer at DonorsChoose.org because there’s such a supportive vibe. And the volunteer snack bin doesn’t hurt either, just sayin’.
5 – Just like school has extracurricular activities, the volunteer program has events! In the past volunteers have been invited to yoga classes at the office and this year volunteers can join the new volunteer book club or knitting club… and there’s even a board games club in the works.
4 – You feel the impact of volunteering. Every day the number of thank-you packages is posted, and volunteers get to see first-hand how much they contribute. (A couple months ago we processed over a thousand packages in one day, and Charles Best made us a thank-you video!) When DonorsChoose.org tested writing thank-you notes to first-time donors, the results were shared with volunteers. We could actually see in the data how we made a difference.
3 – I may have mentioned the snack bin earlier, but even that perk pales in comparison with foodie events like Oreo-Palooza. Last month, volunteers were invited to sample a plethora of different Oreo flavors and vote on our favorites. (Mint Oreos won!) It was awesome. I am looking forward to the upcoming Pop-Tart-Palooza – which Pop-Tart will reign supreme?
2 – By volunteering I know I’m helping kids, and more often than not, it’s my own kids and the students of my colleagues. Sometimes DonorsChoose.org thanks volunteers with gift cards – I’ve been able to fund projects that have elevated my teaching to heights I didn’t know were possible. My classroom is not limited by my pocketbook. When my students have the right resources, the basics like books and pencils, or the fantastical like pedometers or a Global Studies field trip to the Metropolitan Museum, I’m able to teach beyond my wildest dreams. (Did you know NYC teachers were allocated only $77 funds this year to cover ALL supply costs for their class?)
1 – Fantastic thank-yous are, well, fantastic. The amazing student thank-yous keep me coming back to volunteer year after year. From neon yellow bumble bees drawn lovingly by preschoolers, to origami Yoda’s created by middle school students, these letters have the power to inspire. After years of volunteering I’m still moved by the words and images I see every time I volunteer. I’ve laughed, I’ve gasped… I’ve wiped glitter from my lap; all in the name of making the lives of students better.
If you live in NYC and want to join the volunteer team, you can find information here.