Opportunities for Involvement
The successful operation of the school relies largely on the time and energy given by parent volunteers. There is a need for parent volunteers on both an individual class level and a school-wide level. A sense of community, new friendships, and a genuine sense of pride can be gained by involving oneself in working together toward a common goal. An understanding of what is expected of parents throughout the school year is essential in allowing parents to participate in a way that works for them.
The Parent Organization Steering Committee (POSC) is comprised of members of the parent body who represent the Children’s Garden, Lower School and High School levels of the school, and provides leadership to the Parent Organization (PO). In general, its purpose is to inspire, inform, and organize the parent community and to enhance the school’s social life through communication and involvement.
One of the primary goals of the Parent Organization (PO) at the Washington Waldorf School is to encourage and support involvement of the parent body in the life of the school through community-building and fund-raising events and activities. While all parents with students enrolled at the school are automatically members of the Parent Organization, the Parent Organization can best accomplish its important work through a system of Class Representatives-- parents from each Children’s Garden class and each grade who provide a direct conduit for communication to and from the class to the leadership of the Parent Organization. Parents can have a more direct involvement in building a sense of community in their class and in the school as a whole by volunteering as a Class Representative or as a Class Parent. Both of these roles are important ones and are intended to facilitate parent involvement in the school and promote a sense of community.
Many parents are not aware of all the opportunities to participate in events that make a big difference in the life of the school--things that often require a very small time commitment. The Parent Organization can best disseminate information about and engage volunteers for school-wide events through the Class Representatives.
The role of a Class Representative is to represent their class in the Parent Organization and to serve as a conduit for information from the POSC to parents regarding certain school-wide activities.
Class Representatives are asked to attend Parent Organization meetings on a regular basis and to report back to their classes as to the work of the Parent Organization. In addition, the Class Representatives are charged with encouraging volunteers from their respective classes to carry out the very important work of the Parent Organization and the school, such as coordinating parent participation in festivals, fundraising events (such as the annual Bazaar and Gala), workshops and work parties, as well as sharing information through e-mail communication, phone trees, and meetings. Finally, Class Representatives are encouraged to solicit ideas from their classes and bring them to Parent Organization meetings.
The role of Class Parent is to support the Class Teacher as a communicator and coordinator of parent involvement in the class. The Class Parent is the communication link between the Class Teacher and parents of the class.
Class Parent responsibilities typically include the communication of class parent-teacher meetings or class events (whether for families, parents, or students-only) and of requests by the teacher for assistance in the classroom or on fieldtrips. It is important that the Class Parent maintain regular contact with the Class Teacher to find out how parents can best assist with class activities.
For parent-teacher evenings, it is important that the Class Parent communicate the meeting times to all parents in his/her class. Every family should receive the message and be encouraged to participate. Although parent evenings are not mandatory, they form the core of the social fabric of the class, supporting a shared understanding among parents of the pedagogical direction for the year, and the nature of the students’ interactions with their teachers, and with their peers. Attendance at parent evenings is a cornerstone of the students’ success and sense of support in a Waldorf School.
Another important volunteer opportunity that the Class Parent undertakes early on is to help welcome new families into the school by finding "Ambassador" families in their grade to assist each new family's transition into the Waldorf community.
Class Parents are selected by their Class Teacher. Anyone interested in being a Class Parent should let the Class Teacher know. Some classes work effectively with a small ‘team’ of Class Parents who can share the duties. The Class Parent ideally volunteers his/her time from September of one year to September of the next, and in some cases may serve for more than one school year. Class Parents may be asked to help the teacher to find and train a replacement at the end of their terms.