Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
To honor our treasured partners in education, Canyons District this year held its first-ever Volunteer Appreciation Week Sept. 17-21 . During this week, our volunteer corps was recognized in each school and honored by the board of education at a reception. The superintendent also hosted a special PTA Presidents Luncheon to thank the parent leaders for their dedication to our students and teachers.
One of the highlights of this week was the announcement of the district's Volunteer of the Year. Suzanne Walker, the longtime PTA president of Midvale Elementary, couldn't hold back the tears as she accepted this year's award. "One person truly can make a difference," she said after receiving a standing ovation.
With this heartwarming event so fresh in my mind, it was disarming — and, to be honest, discouraging — to discover there's some misinformation in the community about Canyons District's dedication to voluntarism in our schools. In a recent letter to the editor, ("More money than sense," Readers' Forum, Oct. 28) a concerned patron stated without challenge that Canyons District has eliminated its volunteer reading program. As Canyons' Director of Partnerships and Community Service, it's my job to streamline and support our volunteer efforts, and I am proud to report to our patrons that Canyons District continues to welcome volunteers in our schools.
Truth be told, Canyons District has a robust volunteer program that has flourished since the Canyons' founding in 2009. By our count, there currently are nearly 7,000 parents, grandparents, neighbors and business partners registered and regularly volunteering in our schools — and the majority are working with our teachers to boost our students' literacy skills. Almost daily, volunteers can be seen at Canyons District schools, tutoring students in one-on-one and small-group sessions.
We believe this dictum to be true: A caring and kind adult is the linchpin to a student's success. Last year, 10,000 volunteers donated 218,527 hours in Canyons District schools — and our aim is to see that number grow year after year. Whether the volunteers wish to read with a child, bring holiday treats to a classroom or provide a helping hand at a crosswalk, we celebrate and express appreciation for those efforts.
I invite you to volunteer in Canyons District schools and join us in our celebration of the highest standards of educational excellence. Apply today to serve as a volunteer in our schools. Clearly, we cherish the relationships we've built with our volunteers, who truly have taken to heart the words of Albert Einstein: "Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile."
Kathy Anderson is the director of partnerships and community service at Canyons School District. She's been an educator for 28 years, including 10 years as a school administrator.