Each month, dedicated volunteers or community partners will be recognized for the time and talents dedicated to Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS).
Carole Kownack was a teacher at Green Run Elementary School for more than seven years and saw first-hand the benefits volunteers had in the school and in her classroom. So, when she became a parent herself, Kownack knew she wanted to provide the same service she received.
“Their help in the classroom was invaluable,” said Kownack. “Their assistance allowed me to accomplish more for my students than I could have accomplished alone.”
Kownack volunteered in her children’s classrooms whenever possible. Once she started volunteering, she knew she could never stop.
“I wanted to support our VBCPS teachers as they worked to enrich our children’s lives,” said Kownack. “I believed that if I could offer assistance for any areas of need, I would be helping them fulfill their goals for their students.”
Kownack followed her children as they advanced from school to school volunteering each chance she found. Her youngest child graduated from Bayside High School and is now a senior in college.
“I just don’t seem to be able to leave,” said Kownack. “I really enjoy it at Bayside High School and I think the things we do as volunteers help people, so that makes me want to stick around here and do more good stuff.”
Kownack made a point to volunteer whenever and wherever needed. From making copies to organizing fellow volunteers, she has held many different positions over the years. Reflecting on the activities and events she has helped with, she said she really enjoyed being the school’s volunteer coordinator.
“When I found someone with skills and a desire to share their time with the school and found an avenue they could grow in and students could learn from, that was really something special,” explained Kownack. “I had the opportunity to find out what the school’s needs were, and then find people who were interested in meeting those needs.”
Kownack now supports the current volunteer coordinator and is a dedicated member of the school’s copy team.
“On Thursdays the copy team gets together and makes copies for teachers who have requested assistance,” said Kownack. “Having been a teacher, I know this is helpful. I remember how frustrating it could be, so to be able to support teachers in this manner, I really enjoy.”
Thursdays are busy for Kownack because she also dedicates her time as part of the school’s cookie team.
“I don’t bake, but I sell. We sell cookies to raise money for the city-wide All Night Grad Committee.”
In addition to making copies and selling cookies, Kownack is also a part of the Parent, Teacher, Student Association (PTSA) board and a member of the volunteer coordinator committee. She also shares the many different opportunities to volunteer with the Bayside High School community.
“We have parents that interview kids during mock job interviews, community members and parents help us host the Reality Store,” said Kownack. “These are opportunities where parents and community members get to make a difference, even if it’s just for the day.”
What is the driving factor that keeps Kownack volunteering? The students.
“It’s exciting to see them start to develop their leadership qualities, whether it’s through the Student Council Association (SCA), a sports team, or in the classroom,” shared Kownack. “I think that’s why I don’t leave, because seeing those things fill me with joy.”
Relationships are another factor that keeps Kownack volunteering.
“One of the best things about volunteering are the relationships you make with the staff or with other volunteers. People who volunteer have good hearts and good intentions, and when you put a group of those people together, pretty cool stuff happens.”
For volunteers who are concerned about how much time they are able to devote to volunteering, Kownack wants them to know there are opportunities to assist with specific one-time events or seasonal activities.
“I would encourage volunteers to start with a small time commitment in an area that is within their comfort zone,” said Kownack. “And if it helps – bring a friend to volunteer with you. You are about to embark on a rewarding adventure that will positively impact the future!”
“Volunteering is about giving the gift of time back to the people,” explained Kownack. “Working with others to achieve a common goal only serves to increase the fun and satisfaction.”
Become a volunteer or community partner today and make a difference in student’s lives. For more information on volunteering visit vbschools.com.