While growing up I never thought much about the many mums, dads and grandparents who gave their time to school sports days, excursions, fetes, tuckshop, music and theatre performances, classes and working bees. I have scant but happy memories of their encouraging faces or supervisory advice.
Much later, a favourite principal who became a friend and a great mum of three now grown kids both told me I’d ‘get it’ when my turn came; and now I really do.
It’s been the most unexpected yet resounding pleasure to discover how much my child’s school community matters to my family and to the people within and surrounding our school.
Slowly, I’ve become involved in its committees, projects and vision. I’ve made new friends from shared timetables, concerns, library books and fundraising rosters. I’ve also noticed the kids who need a hand, a hug, a warning look or a nod of acknowledgement.
I’ve realised a lot about the mostly unseen and vital work that teachers, administrators and school volunteers do. Some days I’m more satisfied by the feeling of working together that a school creates, than the working day I manage to squeeze in between drop-off and pick-up.
It is only topped by my child’s delighted face when I show up for reading time or to help at his disco.
I’m especially proud to have connected the dots between local businesses and several Sunshine Coast schools for a community-funded project that’s building edible gardens for junior primary students that they can tend, cultivate and reap themselves. It creates lots of fun opportunities for kids to learn interactively outdoors. Some are sharing their organic produce through the tuckshop for students to eat freely.
The concept is coordinated voluntarily by Treeco Arborists and is based on a successful school garden initiated by parents and volunteers who are long gone now. It’s a legacy of giving back that’s lasted years and will go on shaping little people who appreciate growing healthy food in any sized garden, teamwork, responsibility and sustainability.
School volunteers tell me there are countless rewards for giving time and support. They include working with kids and seeing their excited involvement in something, supporting the teachers, feeling a sense of belonging and seeing the results of their efforts come to fruition.
I feel I’ve learned more about the importance of education, teamwork and being a lifelong learner in the past few years than from my own 17 years of study or my career with teaching and training institutions.
If you have some time, please give it to a school – it will matter and may seed more than you know.
Rebecca Grisman is a communications specialist who has lived on the Sunshine Coast for more than 20 years.