Many hands make light work is the motto of a group of retired teachers who volunteer on professional development days to help with teacher tasks.
For four years, Sue Brown, Eileen Day, Julie Lawrence, Nancy Manson, and Kristi Meyers have volunteered each month at Eisenhower Elementary to support classroom instruction. Combined, the group has over 150 years of educational experience. They taught together at Eisenhower. And volunteering keeps them connected to the school they love while providing an opportunity to get caught up with each other.
The tasks are not a chore, according to the four who volunteered on the first Wednesday in September. And they are doing things teachers would have to do on their own time. “Teachers spend countless hours” doing these types of tasks, said Eileen Day, who retired in 2007. Each remembers taking work home. “We can work and talk at the same time.”
“We come in at 1:30 and stay until the work is done,” said Julie Lawrence, who retired three years ago.
“We were very close as a staff,” said Sue Brown, who retired in 2006. “We were friends, and confidants. We celebrated milestones and helped each other through the hard times. We look forward to these monthly times.”
They have developed a simple system. They leave a message for the teachers of when the next volunteer day will be. A basket on the counter in the teacher workroom holds “jobs” teachers need help with. The volunteers on Wednesday were cutting words for a class word wall, cutting triangle flashcards for Everyday Math, and tracing over the writing of students on a project to track reading minutes.
“The teachers have been very appreciative,” said Brown. And according to Lawrence, they never hear any complaints.
The work keeps the teachers connected to current educational practices. “I don’t consider myself retired,” said Eileen Day. “There is work to do!” And she feels a strong attachment to this school where she spent 23 years. She also volunteers to help maintain the Outdoor Learning Center by planting trees, weeding, etc.
According to Kristi Meyers, it wasn’t uncommon to see Brown and Day helping regularly at the school before the group officially formed four years ago. “It gave me my kid fix,” said Brown. “When someone needs something, we jump in”