To paraphrase the “It takes a village to raise a child” axiom, in Syracuse, it takes a city to educate a child.
Public education can no longer function successfully if it relies solely on the efforts of professional educators to do the teaching and the government to provide the money. It takes committed individuals and committed businesses and civic organizations to help close the gap between what schools need and what schools can afford. In a time when money is tight — both at home and in schools — the Syracuse community continues to support public education through the energetic efforts of hundreds of volunteers.
Education is a city’s responsibility, not just its school system’s responsibility. The people of our city understand this, and hundreds of them step forward every year to donate their time and talents and money to work with the Syracuse City School District to make education happen on all the appropriate levels.
Although volunteerism is a longstanding staple of education everywhere, the SCSD is taking it to higher levels every year. It is a highly organized program that draws from all areas of the community. Among the 300 honorees at Tuesday’s Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon at Le Moyne College were parents, grandparents, business leaders, religious leaders, activists, educators, journalists, poets, professionals and non-professionals, laborers, retirees, future teachers, government public servants — you name it, they are on the list.
Volunteers work with programs and groups and with individuals. They instruct, they demonstrate, they mentor, they counsel, they lead. They work in classrooms, gymnasiums, auditoriums cafeterias, parking lots, athletic fields and on the street. They provide the extras that neither the SCSD nor any school district is always able to include in the day-to-day business of education.
Mostly, they care. The care for and about the children of Syracuse. It is important to them that children flourish and that Syracuse will flourish because of the children’s success.
There are 300 names on the list of volunteers who were honored at the luncheon. Not all could attend because some were unable to get away from their full-time work. Others were, ironically, too involved as volunteers to take time away to be honored for that very activity. The honorees were proud. They were, of course, pleased to be honored, but mostly they were proud of being part of something important — something successful. They were part of a team that is winning despite some hefty odds.
They should be proud. They are the first group of volunteers to be so honored by the SCSD. They should be proud that the SCSD, the Board of Education and Superintendent Sharon Contreras support, recognize and appreciate their efforts. But mostly they should be proud because they are contributing to the education and well being of children. As Marcus Tulius Cicero essentially said, “What nobler pursuit than the one who instructs the rising generation.”
So, if you want to part of such pursuits — if you want to contribute, to work hard for no pay, to be part of something essential to us all — contact the SCSD School Volunteer Program Office through syracusecityschools.com.