Community and Schools Together (CAST) is an initiative of Dorchester County Public Schools with the mission of promoting and facilitating volunteer community support in our schools. We are looking for a CAST of 1000 – one thousand Dorchester County residents who are willing to share their time, talents and skills with our young people, an investment that will benefit the entire community.
We are looking for a CAST of 1000 – Could one of them be YOU?
Ambitious, you say? We are already well on our way with many of your fellow Dorchester Countians providing services to our children and sending our young people the message – we believe in you and your future is important to us.
Join our CAST as we provide supporting services to our schools and you could be a star to a child.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I help?
Volunteers in our schools work in both specific programs and also on an ad hoc basis. Specific programs include:
Reading Teams are groups of volunteers who take turns listening to 1st through 5th graders read. Some teams represent churches, service organizations, or their employers. Others are composed of individuals who are matched with a team. Individual volunteers from Reading Teams visit participating schools each day, usually first thing in the morning, to simply spend an hour listening to young readers. Since teams are composed of a minimum of five members, no one person needs to be ‘on duty’ more than once a week, although some may want to do more. Reading Team membership is an easy way to support our schools and children in the very important task of becoming a proficient reader.
Book Buddies work one-on-one with children in kindergarten, 1st or 2nd grade who are at risk of falling behind in literacy skills. Unlike Reading Teams, Book Buddies always work with the same child or children and build a relationship over time. Meetings between Big and Little Buddies are held twice weekly for 30 minutes during school time and involve an assortment of literacy activities: listening to the child read, reading to the child, playing word games, or perhaps discussing an interest of the child.
Character Counts is a character education program utilized in our elementary and middle schools. It follows the framework of and is supported by Character Counts Mid-Shore, who coordinates the program in Dorchester, Talbot and Caroline Counties. At the elementary level, volunteer Character Coaches are attached to a specific class and visit weekly for about 20 minutes to present a ‘lesson’ on one of the Six Pillars of Character: Trustworthiness, Citizenship, Respect, Responsibility, Caring, and Fairness. In middle school, Coaches are also attached to specific classes, but visit only once a month with the emphasis being on preparing for high school and beyond such as choosing friendship groups, goal-setting, prioritizing, team working. Character Counts Mid-Shore has been supporting character education in our schools for over 15 years and has many resources and ideas to support Coaches. Visit their website to learn more: www.charactercountsmidshore.com.
Volunteers are also welcome to help in other ways in schools: in school media centers (libraries), in classrooms, in offices, and in other ways. What can you offer? Do you have an idea? Let us hear from you.
How much of a time commitment is there?
You can offer as much or as little time as you like. To give some idea, Book Buddies spend about an hour a week per child; Character Coaches spend 20 minutes per week in elementary classrooms, 20 minutes per month in middle school classrooms, plus a little preparation time. Time spent by members of Reading Teams varies with the size of the team, but count on a minimum of half hour weekly. Other tasks are flexible, depending upon a volunteer’s availability. Only offer the amount of time with which you are comfortable and feel you can offer consistently.
I’m not a teacher, can I still volunteer?
Yes! A teaching background is not required because a volunteer works under the direction of the professional staff. The qualifications needed to be a school volunteer are reliability, a sincere interest in children and young people and an ability to follow school procedures and policies. Patience and a sense of humor help too!
What is the process for becoming a volunteer?
Why should I volunteer in a school?
Volunteering in schools benefits so many. Children benefit from the individual attention, the positive relationship with an adult, the message that learning is important and the knowledge that they are valued and supported. The community benefits from the value added to the schools with a better educated workforce, increased economic advantage, and civic pride. And volunteers report that few feelings equal that “a-ha!” moment when they see a child first understand a concept with which they have been struggling.
OK, I’m in! What now?