While the Alachua County School Volunteer program is coordinated at the district level, it is essentially school based. Principals appoint school-level volunteer coordinators each year. The district office provides the structure and materials needed for operating an organized program and provides assistance and training in areas of recruitment, record keeping, orientation and training of staff and volunteers, recognition, public relations, and program evaluation. The district office promotes and facilitates parent and community involvement in education and provides recognition for volunteers and partners.
Specific programs operated through the district office include:
Community Resource Volunteer Program (Speaker's Bureau)
The Community Resource Volunteer Program maintains a database of community volunteers who are willing to go into the classrooms at the request of teachers to share their expertise with students. Speakers enhance curriculum by sharing information about careers, hobbies, travels, experiences, etc.
Teen Trendsetter Reading Mentors Program
Teen Trendsetters Reading Mentors is an award-winning program that recruits and trains high school students to mentor third graders in reading. Teens are asked to commit to one hour each week (minimum ten/semester) and are matched with elementary students at a partnered school. Recruited teens are trained to work with a specialized 40-minute curriculum developed by the Volunteer USA Foundation in cooperation with Scholastic, called Brain Storm. The curriculum consists of three topic areas, each with a 10-session, skill-based student magazine, a comprehensive tutor guide and books to become part of the elementary student’s home library. Contact Liz Stark at the School Volunteer Office for participating high schools. Please visit the Teen Trendsetter website for more information at http://barbarabush.org/home-feature/teen-trendsetterstm/.
Partners in Education
The Alachua County Partners in Education Program works to strengthen the educational process through promoting and facilitating collaborative efforts between schools and the private sector. Partnerships involve community businesses and organizations working with schools and/or programs individually as well as on a district-wide basis. The largest partnership initiative is the Adopt-A-School Program, which began in 1988 through a partnership with the Gainesville Area Chamber Of Commerce.
The MentorGNV Program began as a partnership with the student government at the University of Florida in 1991. Over 5000 students have volunteered since the program began. Volunteers commit to be matched, one-to-one with children in elementary and middle schools, and as special friends, to visit them at school, during school, once each week, for about an hour. Volunteers commit for one semester, although many continue beyond. Formal recruitment, orientation, and placement of volunteers is done at the beginning of fall and spring semesters.Currently we are partnering with MENTORGNV to recruit, place and train college mentors in this program.
Each semester, the district office recruits and places thousands of students from the University of Florida and Santa Fe College as volunteers in area schools. Teachers submit requests and sign ups are held within the first two weeks of classes. We collaborate with professors at both institutions to provide their students with opportunities to experience working with children in public schools.
Lunch Buddies Mentoring Program
Lunch Buddies is a mentoring program that pairs third grade students with caring adults who meet with them one a week during the child's lunchtime. School personnel identify students who could benefit from a supportive, one-on-one relationship. The program is offered at Alachua, Lake Forest, Metcalfe and Terwilliger Elementary Schools.