EDITORIAL:Volunteer stars

Susanne Lindsey’s selection as Parent of the Year for 2009 for the Lee County Public School District underscores the singular importance of parental volunteerism in shaping and supporting their children’s school years.
Lindsey, whose nomination was made by Shannon Primary School, joined fellow nominees Melanie Brinkley, Saltillo Elementary; Misty Browning, Saltillo Primary; Phillip Carr, Mooreville High; Tammy Chapman, Guntown Middle, Richard Hill, Saltillo High, David and Judy McDonald, Mooreville Elementary; Amanda H. Trent, Mooreville Middle; Janet Vines, Verona Elementary; and Cindy Walls, Shannon Elementary.
All the parents chosen received their school honors because their support of children in the classroom and in school activities is exceptional.
No successful public school makes its best marks without strong parental volunteerism.
Volunteerism has been a core community value in many systems for decades, but it has become more important across a full range of activities as challenges for schools – from financial to cultural – grow in complexity.
Most schools, of course, also grow in enrollment, and with growth the necessity of maintaining personal involvement in classrooms, activities and academics becomes more essential.
In systems like Lee County, Tupelo and others statewide, the range of volunteer activities for parents and other mentors is diverse and often complex. Everything from reading to children in classrooms to chaperoning challenging “field trips” for enrichment and intellectual growth draws parents into the fascinating and rewarding spectrum of helping children learn and succeed.
None of the parents honored by the Lee County Schools work as volunteers for personal recognition. It is inspired by the love of their own children and their children’s schoolmates.
Few other activities offer such strong character examples for children to emulate. It is not unusual to find multi-generation volunteers in school settings – family members following in the footsteps of the preceding generation.
The spirit of school volunteerism also has expanded to include and encourage students’ involvement in schools and in larger community settings. Recognition of the parent volunteers shows the level of appreciation in the Lee County schools – and an understanding that volunteers are an essential part of the larger education experience from kindergarten through graduation.
No one will count the number of cookies made during the 2008-2009 school year , nor will a precise record of other volunteer hours be logged, but a lasting imprint is made in the students whose lives are touched by people working for free for the good of someone else.
Former President George H.W. Bush raised the example of volunteers to new visibility with his “thousand points of light” descriptive.
There are actually millions of those points of light, and their effect is beyond measure.

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