Room Parent Guidelines

Thank you for volunteering to be a Room Parent this year!

 

As a Room Parent, you are a liaison between the classroom parents and the classroom teacher, school and PTO. You will fulfill a variety of responsibilities, but your primary focus is assisting your classroom teacher in planning and staffing exciting events throughout the year and helping him/her with any other classroom needs. Following is further information on the specific responsibilities Room Parents have, including some guidelines to assist you in fulfilling them.

 

RESPONSIBILITIES OVERVIEW:

1. ASSISTING WITH CLASSROOM NEEDS

  • You should start by contacting your child’s teacher to discuss any immediate needs s/he may have and to schedule a planning meeting to understand the specific requirements for the year.
  • During the meeting you will generally review the following:
    • Planned classroom celebrations, festivals and field trips and the preferred parental volunteer involvement for each
    • Other parental volunteer involvement requests, such as classroom assistance with projects and activities like writer’s workshops, computer lab, crafts, etc.
    • Donation requests for general supplies
  • This meeting might also be a good time to probe for ideas for larger items for the class to present as a “class gift” during the holiday season (see more on class gifts below.)
  • Keep in mind that each teacher is different and seeks differing levels of support. Therefore, the key is to remain flexible and support the teacher in whatever capacity he or she may require.

 

2. CHAPERONES FOR FIELD TRIPS

  • When possible, try to find out in advance when the teacher will need chaperones for field trips. If you are unable to find out in advance, you should check with them when you receive field trip information through your child. (Note that sometimes teachers will solicit volunteers for chaperoning directly either at parent/teacher conferences or via permission slips that come home in weekly folders.)
  • When contacting parents to serve as chaperones, always try to contact the parents of ALL the children in the class, even those with both parents employed outside the house. Many working parents will be able to take a day off from work to accompany their child on a field trip. For more information on how to most equitably select volunteers, please refer to the section “Tips for Selecting Volunteers” below.

 

3. CLASSROOM PARTIES AND SPECIAL EVENTS

  • Keep in touch regularly with your teacher so that you are aware of upcoming events. Teachers need to notify you with their needs regarding special supplies, numbers of parent volunteers, and related tasks outside the classroom (i.e. arts and crafts preparation).
  • Classroom celebrations and craft connections facilitated by parents and planned with classroom teachers are designed to support the learning in the classroom. It’s important that we keep several things in mind.
    • First, we must provide a balance of treats in the classroom.
    • Second, and even more important, we need to consider all food allergies in the classroom.
    • In order to ensure the safety of all students, it’s important that all classroom celebrations not use food or craft products that might be potentially harmful to children with severe and possibly life-threatening food allergies.
    • All classroom teachers consult with room parents and fill out and return the Classroom Celebrations and Craft Projects Involving Food form to the School Nurse at least 2 days prior to all classroom celebrations and crafts where food items will be present, even if there are no known allergies in the classroom. Specifically, once the room parents and teachers have determined the menu, the teacher will complete the form (available in the staff room) and submit it to the nurse for review. In order for the teacher to complete the form they must have either a list of all ingredients or a copy of them provided by the room parents.
    • Classrooms can have as many events a year as they want; however, only three of these events can have food.

 

4. GIFTS FOR TEACHERS & SPECIALISTS

There is a wonderful tradition of recognizing the outstanding teachers of Nixon each year during the holidays and at year end with gifts for both classroom teachers and our five specialists. However, contributing to a classroom or specialist gift is voluntary and not required, and no parent should ever feel pressured to participate.

  • Classroom gifts are permissible and not subject to state Conflict of Interest regulations. Please know that the teachers really do appreciate the classroom gifts -- many of them spend a lot of their own money buying things for their classrooms!
    • Consider asking the teachers what they might like/need for their classrooms.
    • Give an Amazon Gift Card purchased through the Nixon Gazette website. This supports and recognizes the teacher and also helps Nixon PTO in the process; another idea is to provide a gift card to an educational resource store (like Lakeshore Learning in Newton).
    • Provide a personal memento such as the Nixon Yearbook or a compilation of personal messages from the students.
  • Gifts for Specialists are a newer tradition at Nixon that allows us to recognize our Art, Music, Physical Education, Spanish and Library teachers. To fund these gifts we pool contributions from each Nixon classroom with your assistance.
  • Logistical Considerations and Tips:
    • Coordinating a class gift takes time, so we suggest starting the process early.
    • Most parents prefer to donate holiday and gift monies one time per year. So, please consider collecting all money at one time. Personal, phone, mail or email contact is strongly recommended as notes in the back pack are not the most reliable form of communication.
    • For the most accurate recordkeeping, request checks vs. cash and that the donations be mailed to one of the Room Parents.
    • Parents need to be informed of your gift intention, a suggested contribution amount, the deadline for money collection and the fact that the contribution is voluntary.
    • Finally, parents should know what the gift is, the date you will be presenting the gift and be invited to participate.
    • When collecting donations from parents for the class gifts, please request an additional contribution (we suggest a $2 per family contribution) for the Specialists’ gifts. This portion of the donation should be forwarded to the designated Room Parent Coordinator, who will purchase and deliver the gifts for the Specialists with the help of the PTO Co-Chairs.
    • Special Note for 4th Grade Room Parents: We have a “pay it forward” tradition at Nixon to finance the 5th grade Wings of Wisdom moving-on ceremony in the spring. Therefore, 4th grade Room Parents will also need to take up a collection for donations from each 4th grade parent and that money will be forwarded to Colleen Folz, our Wings of Wisdom Coordinator this year. Be sure to note for the parents that the same will be done for them next year when their 4th graders are moving on!
  • Personal Gifts: Personal gifts are not expected, however, if parents feel that they want to give a gift, the parent may approach you for guidance or input. Please relay to them that specific guidelines must be followed.
    • These gifts (both holiday and year-end) should be gifts for the classroom and not personal gifts for the teachers per school committee and state regulations. To understand these regulations more thoroughly, please read the attached Appendix and feel free to share with any parents. You can also read and direct parents to the SPS website at http://www.sudbury.k12.ma.us where a document entitled “State Ethic Laws Governing Gifts” is available for download on the Parent Handbook page.

 

5. PARENT VOLUNTEERS FOR SCHOOL-WIDE EVENTS

Room Parents may be asked to enlist parent volunteers from their respective classes for general school-wide activities and special events (e.g. Monster Mash, festivals, Science Fair, Field Day, etc.).

 

Typically, the effort in recruiting volunteers for these events will first be the responsibility of those co-chairing the event and will most often be done through a general announcement in the Weekly Notices or a PTO e-blast. For most events, this proves to be sufficient in meeting the volunteer needs. However, from time to time, it may be necessary for the Room Parent to get involved and make a personal appeal to the classroom parent community. If this becomes necessary you will be contacted DIRECTLY by one of the Room Parent Coordinators.

 

6. COMMUNICATION

Room parents play an important role in the communication process at Nixon School. They act as the liaison between parents, school and the PTO. It’s important that any information that Room Parents are asked to forward on to their respective classroom parents is sent out in a timely and effective manner.

 

  • Please make sure you discuss with your co-room parent how you will divide the responsibility for forwarding such e-mails.
  • Note that most email forward requests will come directly from one of the Room Parent Coordinators.
  • To ensure the emails are as clear as possible, you should copy the content of the email you are being asked to forward and paste it into a new email. This will eliminate the clutter that comes with multiple email forwards. Please just take extra care to make sure you have copied all the information from the original email.

 

7. PHOTOGRAPHS

Room parents are encouraged to take photos at as many school events as possible (field trips, holiday parties, etc.) and to share those photos with the yearbook and DVD committee. They should also encourage other parents in the class to do the same. The committee can’t be at every event, and this helps to ensure the yearbook and DVD both have a broad selection of students and classes to include. To share photos, please contact the committee directly.

 

TIPS FOR SELECTING VOLUNTEERS:

The Approach:

  • Room parents must make every effort to include as many parents from the class as possible in volunteer opportunities.
    • For example, if there are multiple volunteers for field trips, different ones should be selected on subsequent trips.
    • Room parents should not assign themselves (or their friends) to volunteer for multiple events unless there are no other volunteers.
    • Consider reminding “Dads” that they can volunteer as well, too. o You may also consider giving special consideration to a working parent if he or she is only able to make one specific event.
  • Allow for a reasonable and consistent response time to volunteer requests, such as a one week minimum.
    • Not everyone has access to their personal email accounts throughout the work day and you should be as fair as possible to all parents when assigning volunteers, not just the parents who can send immediate responses to a request.
  • Ideas that have worked for other Room Parents:
    • Use of a lottery - you let parents know that you will be accepting volunteers for a specified number of days after which you will conduct a lottery to select the volunteer for that activity.
    • Use of a Master List that is rotated alphabetically.
  • As a room parent you should be willing to step in to assist whenever other parents are unavailable after attempts to solicit their help have not been successful.

 

Organization:

  • Be sure to clearly designate the responsibilities of each Room Parent at the beginning of the year so that there is no duplication or so that nothing is inadvertently missed.
  • We suggest you create an email distribution list for the class to facilitate the solicitation of parent volunteers. Consider asking for each parent to reply to you the first time you send an email in order to confirm you have the correct contact information for each parent. Teachers often collect these emails at Back to School Night, so coordinating with the teacher to get the most up to date list is encouraged.
  • Google Docs can be an effective shared tool for facilitating self-sign up of certain assignments, such as festival help or classroom aides.
  • Minimize cancellations and no-shows by sending reminder emails before the events, slotting in back-up volunteers and ensuring you are personally available.

 

Communication with Classroom Parents:

  • Explain the approach you will take in selecting volunteers when you share the volunteer opportunities.
  • Emphasize that all volunteer communication should go through the Room Parents and NOT the teacher.
  • Describe the security requirements for all volunteers at Nixon (outlined in the next section.)

 

REQUIREMENTS FOR VOLUNTEERING AT NIXON

In order to ensure maximum safety for all, there are a variety of security requirements and procedures in place for all Nixon volunteers. Room Parents should communicate these to the classroom parents at the beginning of the year. It may also be helpful to remind them about the security procedures with each volunteer related communication. For example, when requesting volunteers for a field trip you could insert a reminder about all volunteers having signed the Volunteer Agreement and having an active CORI form on file.

  1. CORI Form - all volunteers must have a valid CORI form on file with the front office (CORIs are valid for 3 years at which time they must be renewed). If you are scheduling volunteers from your class you can check with the front office to confirm that the volunteers are CORI approved. If someone has not been approved, they may NOT volunteer at Nixon. The School Secretary in the front office can process CORI forms for parents who have not yet submitted the paperwork, but note that approval takes several weeks and requests must be presented in person with a driver’s license.
  2. Nixon Volunteer Agreement – all parent volunteers are asked to read and sign the Nixon Volunteer Agreement form that can be found on the Nixon PTO website here or through the front office. Please ask all parents to complete this form prior to volunteering at Nixon and return it to the front office. There is also a “mandatory” volunteer training held by Joni Jay for all parents interested in volunteering at Nixon. You can find the dates for this training on the Nixon Calendar.
  3. Check-In Procedures - parents and visitors must verbally check in at the front office, sign-in and wear a name badge each time they visit the school. Badges and a sign-in/out book are located in the lobby.

 

We hope that you have found this information helpful. Please contact either of the Room Parent Coordinators if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for your help in the classrooms, your service is invaluable and makes a huge difference to the Nixon community. Have a great year!

 

 

 

APPENDIX

 

More Information on Giving Gifts to Public Employees


While we all want to express our appreciation for the wonderful teachers at Nixon and for all of the

time and effort that they invest in teaching our children, it is essential that all school committee, district and state guidelines and regulations are followed. In addition, note that it can actually be very uncomfortable for the teachers when some receive personal gifts and others don't. The best way to express appreciation is really through a personal note or a classroom gift.


Please note that the Sudbury School Committee policy discourages giving personal gifts to teachers.


In addition, there are state ethics laws that regulate giving gifts to public employees. Here is a summary of the state regulations from the Sudbury Public School District:


The easiest course of action is to provide a gift that is for the classroom or school, rather than a personal gift. Gifts for the classroom (e.g. books, games, etc.) are not subject to the rules about personal gifts below.

 

Again, we discourage giving personal gifts, however if a parent insists, following are the regulations:

 

  • Any personal gift valued at $10 or more but under $50 is allowed but requires the teacher to complete a disclosure form and provide it to the principal. Gifts under $10 or of no retail value (e.g. homemade cookies) do not have to be disclosed.
  • Personal gifts of $50 and over from an individual parent/student are not allowed.
  • Personal gifts from "the class" of up to $150 (TOTAL over the course of the year) can be accepted without disclosure. However the individual names of the donors may not be listed. Per state law, donors of group gifts may NOT be listed individually.

 

Parents might consider a SERF ACE award; it helps an important group and recognizes the contribution of an important teacher/staff member in a meaningful way.

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