[Noozhawk’s note: One in a series on Santa Barbara Partners in Education volunteers. This article is sponsored by QAD Inc., a Partners in Education President’s Council member.]
Shortly after hearing a Santa Barbara Partners in Education employee speak about the importance of volunteering, Mary Romo decided it was time to get involved as a Partners in Education volunteer.
“I knew that Partners was very well organized and I liked helping the school systems,” she explained. “I also knew that there was a great need for volunteers, especially after the economic downturn.”
Romo began by volunteering each week in the kindergarten art class at Roosevelt Elementary School on Santa Barbara’s Upper Eastside. Every Friday, Romo assists the Roosevelt art teacher, Rachel Coffman, in setting up projects and giving students extra attention.
As a retired school speech therapist, Romo was familiar with working in the school systems but she had never taught in a classroom.
“I knew that I wanted to volunteer with children and since I had been a speech therapist for so many years, I had some experience working in the school systems,” Romo said. “But I wanted to do something different.”
Roosevelt seemed like the right fit for Romo because of her long history with the school.
“My children attended Roosevelt, and it is in my neighborhood,” she said. “It just seemed like the right thing to do.”
As a volunteer, Romo’s goal is to provide students with stability — and a little bit of extra attention when needed.
“I hope to decrease the ratio of students to teachers,” Romo said. “A lot of times teachers have so many students that it is hard for them to give each student the attention they may need.
“I provide special support, which is crucial for certain students, especially in the younger classes, who have a harder time focusing.”
Romo said she hopes to make a difference in students’ lives by making them more excited about and appreciative of art.
“I hope that my students will always look forward to doing art,” she said. “I also hope that they will benefit from experiencing the creative process and its rewards.”
Romo encourages other community members to get involved with volunteering and Santa Barbara Partners in Education.
“Volunteering, especially now, is essential to the survival of the school systems,” she said. “With all of the budget cuts, a single volunteer can help a school tremendously. It is also such a rewarding experience.”
Romo wants to continue to make a difference in students’ lives by volunteering at Roosevelt school.
“Sometimes I think I get more out of it than the students!” she exclaimed. “Volunteering has been a truly amazing experience.”
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— Michaela Ford is a senior at Santa Barbara High School and a Santa Barbara Partners in Education intern through the Partners Job Readiness & Internship Program. Partners in Education programs are administered under the Santa Barbara County Education Office.