Parent volunteers give back to the school


HELPING OUT: Grady parent Cindy Sands volunteers her time in the College and Career Center (CCC). She assists alongside other parents, now of which being Anna Winer.

Kamryn Harty, Online Comment Editor

Orchestrating the everyday functions of the school, parent volunteers remain the unsung heroes contributing to Grady’s success. Every day, Grady parents take time out of their packed schedules to help keep Grady running.

Denice Tischer is on Grady’s drama board, the board of the mock trial foundation and helps raise money for Grady fundraisers. She estimates she’s contributed hundreds of volunteer hours a year to help Grady students. Tischer even used her skills from her full-time job at as business operations manager at IBM to set up the software that allows students to buy tickets to Grady productions online.

“We [volunteers] do it for the students,” she says. “All of these really important clubs at Grady are successful because of the parent support that we have. Grady offers such a variety of programs for any interest area that any student would want to have, and I want to help these students have these opportunities. That’s why I’m here.”

Tischer says that one of the most important role of parents is helping with logistics, driving students to various competitions and getting  children to games and competitions on time. She says parent volunteer work is a “behind the scenes” role.

But parents’ help is not just limited to carpooling kids to and from sports competitions. Anna Winer volunteers at Grady’s College Career Center every Wednesday, and has been volunteering at the CCC since 2012. She says parents in the CCC help students write college essays, apply for scholarships or help them consider career paths out of high school.

“There’s something about having an opportunity to interact with students. We want the students to feel comfortable and know that they can always come in. ”

Christen McClain works in the main office and is also on the PTSA board, in charge of building and repair operations for the school. Having worked in a school herself, she knows the difference that parent volunteers can make for teachers.

“I saw first-hand how sometimes you just need someone to help with the little things, so that you can focus on the bigger things,” McClain said. “I try to lighten the load for the staff so that they can take care of the big things.”

McClain says part of the reason the role of parent volunteers is usually unknown to students is volunteers’ ability to help do the little things, like cleaning up after school events, without kids giving it much thought.

“If you do your volunteer job right, no one really knows you’ve done it because it’s just something that’s always there,” she said.

Parents such as Peggy Edwards help administrators with monitoring and signing in tardy students in the morning. Others can be seen in the main office, checking students out for early-release during the days, or putting together lunches for teachers.

“It [volunteering] makes me feel like I’m a part of a big, warm, community — almost like a family,” Edwards said. “That’s really why I do it.”

Edwards says it’s the little things like “good mornings” and hugs from students as she’s signing in kids in the morning, that makes volunteering all worthwhile.

Caroline McGlamry, a coach on the Grady mock trial team and chairman of the Grady Mock Trial Foundation, says parents are essential to keeping a club like mock trial, which is not officially funded by Atlanta Public Schools, successful. Parents organize rides to and from tournaments, put together galas and fundraisers to raise money, provide food for practices, and above all, make practice space available for the team.

“We rely on parents to open their homes for practice space, and the team couldn’t function without practice,” McGlamry said. “For a lot of reasons, Grady mock trial wouldn’t function without parent volunteers.”