DEL NORTE — In an effort to bring back the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) at Del Norte Elementary School, the Upper Rio Grande School District is asking the community to consider volunteering this school year.
For the past two years, the PTO program at the elementary school has suffered due to a lack of participation and the district would really like to see it make a comeback.
Like other programs throughout the district, PTO suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic because access to the school was limited to essential employees and parents only.
Now that the guidelines for COVID have changed, PTO member Alexis Cobb is asking the community to consider helping with some of the organization's programs or to help with classroom activities.
“Some of our programs here at the school could really benefit from volunteers,” Cobb said. “At one time, we had over 20 PTO members but over the last two years, we have dropped down to just over three. It would be nice to see those numbers come back up.”
Each school year, the PTO has hosted several fun activities for students in the elementary school like their Sweet and Sour fundraiser and holiday parties, but PTO members help with more than events.
“One thing, I personally do is come in on some days and have students read to me,” Cobb said. “Volunteers can work with their teachers to decide what activity they want to do; this is just an example of how volunteers can help.”
Someone wanting to volunteer can do so by choosing one of two levels of volunteer status. Volunteers who want to help with events and parties with a teacher present are required to have a background check completed before they can do so.
If a person wants to volunteer in the classroom and there is the possibility of the teacher not being present full-time, in addition to the background check, they will have to complete a volunteer training program.
“I know the requirements seem like a lot, but if we think about the safety and wellbeing of our schools in this day and age, it is worth going through the process to be sure we have trained and qualified volunteers,” Cobb said. “Plus, it’s a bonus to have the tools needed to be a successful volunteer. It is worth the effort, and we would really like to see more of our community, whether they are parents or not come be a part of something great at our school.”
Anyone interested in being a volunteer still has time to sign up for the fall training session on Aug. 30. Anyone wanting to participate can register for the session online at dnespto.wixsite.com/dnes-pto. PTO members can also sign up for party duties, volunteer with certain teachers and programs, and access meetings and schedules at the same website.
“We would love to welcome new volunteers,” Cobb said. “It is a great opportunity for retired individuals or people who have flexible schedules that want to be more involved in our school. We have a newfound appreciation for teachers in the aftermath of the pandemic and this is a great way to give back and help streamline each classroom. Whether it’s reading to students, helping to make copies or bringing snacks to the next holiday party, every minute of volunteer time helps, so please consider joining our PTO this year.”