Volunteers help teachers in SFUSD classrooms 

Last week, I talked about Teacher Appreciation Month and shared some of the exciting work being done by a few of our talented and dedicated teachers.

Today, I want to give a shoutout to a few of the amazing people who support our teachers and students: community volunteers.

There are many community organizations whose staff and volunteers make our schools more vibrant and nurturing by helping in classrooms, libraries, play yards, gardens and after-school programs.

In fact, we have hundreds of community members helping out every day. One of the organizations that helps recruit, train and support school volunteers is the San Francisco Education Fund.

The Education Fund recently celebrated a few of the volunteers who really got the organization’s attention this school year. Of the five who were finalists for Volunteer of the Year, here are three.

Junette Higgins

Higgins is the Education Fund’s Volunteer of the Year. She has volunteered with Christine Huizar’s fourth-grade class at Tenderloin Community Elementary School for more than seven years.

Higgins helps grade multiplication tests. She brings in healthy snacks every week. She spends time one-on-one with students who are new to the country. With Higgins’ help, Huizar can work closely with students during reading time. She even preps projects for students at home.

On her lunch break? She’s been seen shelving more than a hundred books in 45 minutes.

Higgins goes above and beyond to help students learn English. Each week, she shares stories and pictures from her personal travels to create a window to the world for kids who are rarely able to leave The City.

Over the years, this Tenderloin classroom has had several students new to the U.S., many from Yemen who don’t speak English yet. Higgins takes them all under her wing.

Huizar says she can see the excitement on students’ faces when Higgins comes into class.

Kim Syre

Syre has volunteered each Monday morning for more than six years with special-education teacher Victoria Bautista at Dr. William Cobb Elementary School.

Syre brings her magnetic personality to the classroom. The classroom teacher told the Ed Fund:

“All my students want to work with her and be in her group. She is full of positive energy and humor. No matter what mood a student in my class enters with, she can turn them around! “Her presence in the classroom really helps. While she is working in small groups I am able to note progress and plan for each student’s individual education program.”

But there’s more. Bautista had to relocate in the building more than once during school renovations. Syre helped her pack up and unpack the room each time.

Hoa Tran

We have all been there: You want to print a document but something is not working. Now imagine that you’re not just dealing with a fussy printer but you are in the middle of helping to get dozens of students into college and find jobs.

Tran volunteers at San Francisco International High School to make sure the technology is running smoothly and helps everyone with using technology to their advantage.

All the students at International are recent immigrants, so a tremendous amount of support goes to students researching colleges and filling out online applications. And Tran is there to keep the tech running.

After that, he coaches the school’s badminton team and teaches kids how to make their own rackets.

Thank you for such amazing dedication.

Thank you to all of our volunteers. You bring joy to our schools. Want to volunteer? Go to www.sfedfund.org/programs/volunteers.php.

Richard A. Carranza is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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