OUR OPINION: Parents of the Year top schools' annual honors

By NEMS Daily Journal

The Tupelo and Lee County public school systems announced their highest volunteer honors for 2011-2012 this week – Parents of the Year.
The citations recognize exceptional and selfless volunteer work in the school systems, with commitment easily comparable to a second full-time job in dedication, intensity and the sheer amount of time given.
Harry Rayburn, a dentist in Tupelo, whose two children are students in the Tupelo Public School District, was praised for his work at Carver School, where he volunteers weekly as an instructor in Carver’s Integrity Time program, which promotes honor, honesty and truth. Rayburn also works with English Language Learners, serves on the school’s Title 1 School Improvement Team and volunteers in a number of other ways. In 2010, Rayburn helped lead a private-sector drive to raise money for the district’s pre-kindergarten school. He is also active in the Association for Excellence in Education, a private-sector support organization for public schools.
Lorrie Heitger, a long-time volunteer representing Mooreville Elementary School, was named Lee County Parent of the Year.
Her two daughters attend Mooreville Elementary, where she is a the parent involvement coordinator (she recruits, informs and educates), raises money from private sources, and is a volunteer with the Accelerated Reading Program by reading to and with the students when needed. She is a volunteer instructor in Mooreville Elementary School’s After School Enrichment Drama Club, and she hopes that leads to a drama/theater program at the school.
She also is in charge of collecting box tops, a venerable method to redeem for money and get extra supplies.
The two top honorees represent a large, diverse and collectively indispensable strength in each of the schools in Tupelo and Lee County. Parental involvement and voluntary participation are the pubic education equivalent of Best Supporting Actor presented at the Oscars. The volunteer parents are not the “stars” but their role is essential to the quality of the production – and the conclusion – because the commitment is sought and needed from pre-kindergarten through graduation.
The saying that it takes a village to raise a child is never more powerfully demonstrated than in the parental support donated in more ways than can be counted in activities, tutoring, staging fundraisers, and, of course, in planning the special days of celebration noting the milestones achieved in every child’s journey through learning.
It is not unusual to see generation after generation of families positively involved in community schools because the legacy is passed appreciatively from parent to child time after time.