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Most Valuable Parent: Rechelle Ringer, Monroe School

The mother of four juggles many volunteer duties, including as PTA president and as a classroom helper.

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Rechelle Ringer, with husband Michael and their four children,  is the consummate volunteer. Among her commitments are assisting in her children’s classrooms at Monroe Elementary and serving as the school’s PTA president. (Rob Kuznia / Noozhawk photo)

Rechelle Ringer is a woman of many skills.

She holds degrees in art and English from Westmont College, and has earned a teaching credential from the school.

For years, she has sung in ensembles and a cappella choirs at her church and around town.

She works part time at American Riviera Bank as an operations support specialist.

But her No. 1 skill these days is juggling a multitude of volunteer duties at Monroe Elementary School on the Mesa, where two of her four children are students.

In addition to being the school’s PTA president, Ringer is one of the parents who corrects math tests for hundreds of students, puts together the school’s weekly newsletter and is a regular presence in her children’s classrooms, where she serves as a kind of assistant to the teachers.

In addition, she serves as the fundraising chairwoman at her children’s preschool, St. Marks; sits on the Women’s Ministry Board at her church, the Living Faith Center on Hollister Avenue; and oversees the nursery and elementary-age children’s programs at her church.

“It’s a lot of time, but it’s good,” she said, adding that many other parents at the school volunteer just as many hours. “I’m at least fortunate that I don’t have to work full time. We have single mothers who don’t have the support of an extra income, and they still volunteer.”

Ringer’s husband, Michael, teaches advanced-placement social studies at Dos Pueblos High School.

Ringer, 33, was raised in Montecito but grew up in a middle-class home, the daughter of an architect father and stay-at-home mother. Playing musical instruments was mandatory in her house; Ringer played the flute and took vocal lessons. As soon as it became evident to her father that she had artistic talent, he made a point to immerse her in artistic materials.

“The arts have always been a big thing for him,” she said.

After graduating from Santa Barbara High School, she majored in art at Westmont, where she worked in all manner of styles — from sculpture welding to water-color painting to stone carving.

“It was very well-rounded, because my whole point was to be able to teach,” she said.

These days, she still finds the time for music. At church, Ringer sings on the worship team as well as in the women’s ensemble. For 10 years, she sang with the local group Canticle A Cappella Choir and did a couple of stints with the Quire of Voyces.

But she hasn’t done much with art lately. “My family is more important,” she said.

Being the PTA president of a school can be practically a full-time job in itself. First, there are the fundraisers, which must generate enough revenue to hire a variety of specialists in subjects to which the students otherwise would not be exposed, such as art, P.E., music and computers.

But the PTA isn’t just about fundraising.

The group also organizes events such as bingo night, a helmet giveaway for student bicyclists and after-school movies for students on half-days. It also has an outreach component. The group, for instance, might bring in a speaker to shed light on political school issues. Then there is the weekly newsletter that Ringer heads up.

“The hardest part is finding the translators,” she said.

Ringer and a handful of other parents also help the school with its unique math program, in which students must pass a test whenever it comes time to move to the next level. During these tests, Ringer and the other parents sit in the cafeteria, grading the exams.

Ringer said the most rewarding aspect of volunteering in the schools is the enjoyment her children get from seeing her on campus. Sometimes her daughter runs across the playground to give her a hug. Her son, Ringer chuckled, likes to boast to his friends that his mom is the PTA president.

“It makes education important to them, because it’s important to me,” she said.

MVP: Rechelle Ringer

School: Monroe Elementary School on the Mesa; kindergarten through sixth grade; 536 students

Location: 431 Flora Vista Drive

Write to [email protected]

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