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Family Hours

ISM student with her Night of the Notables project display

ISM benefits from a very involved volunteer community that includes parents, guardians, grandparents, and extended family, as well as family friends and neighbors. ISM clearly communicates its reliance on family volunteers to interested applicants at time of inquiry and reiterates the request once families are enrolled in our school. We ask families to donate three hours of time per month for the first student enrolled and one additional hour for each additional student.

Our Office Manager & Family Liaison and our AmeriCorps VIP (Volunteer Instrastructure Program) Fellow serve as our volunteer liaisons. Together they manage the overall process of matching volunteers with meaningful opportunities, ensure fluid connection with school needs, and communicate in timely fashion with volunteers.

HelpCounter, a hosted software solution, allows volunteers to log their hours either by signing in and out on a front-office computer or by manually entering hours after completion. The front-office kiosk also prints volunteer/visitor badges that ensure student safety, as all authorized campus visitors are badged, and visitor safety, as we can use the “logged in” list to know who to account for during emergencies and drills.

During the 2018-2019 school year, 445 ISM individuals volunteered their time and talent in multiple roles throughout the academic year, logging 13,360 volunteer hours total.

Volunteer roles included:

  • Box tops, e-scrip, and other fundraisers
  • Classroom assistance (#1 ~ 5,039 hours)
  • Family Connection participation (parent/guardian social organization) (#3 ~ 898)
  • Front office, lunch room, and recess coverage
  • Fieldtrip chaperones (#2 ~ 1,912 hours)
  • Garden development and maintenance
  • ISM Board of Trustees
  • ISM Foundation / Family Share champions (fundraising)
  • IT / computer support
  • Literacy fundraisers, including Scholastic book fairs
  • Library volunteers (fully volunteer supported)
  • Monthly Saturday Work Day campus and facility maintenance volunteers
  • Photocopying and laminating support
  • Science fair volunteer judges
  • Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM) class providers
  • Schoolwide events, e.g. Arts Festival, Around the World, Grandparents & Great Friends Day, and Field Day
  • Special program assistance with arts and Spanish courses
  • Tech challenge advisor
  • Volunteer assistance at local events, such as the Big Sur International Marathon

Are Family Hours required?

No, family hours are not required; however, ISM's unique and special environment for learning would not survive without enthusiastic family involvement. Volunteering at ISM is critical to the success of our students and our school. ISM asks each family to contribute three hours per month for the first child enrolled and an additional hour per month for each additional child enrolled. Most families contribute volunteer hours well beyond the requirement, with some putting in more than 200 hours per year. The top individual volunteer contributed 253 hours of service during the 2017-2018 school year, while 12 others spent more than 100 hours helping ISM.

How do we contribute our Family Hours if we are working during the school day?

There are many different ways to help at ISM. Many of the opportunities fit into weekends or evening hours, including monthly Saturday work days. 

What steps do I take to volunteer?

First, you need to become eligible to volunteer if you want to contribute hours where you will come into contact with students (e.g. chaperoning fieldtrips or helping in the classroom). For all such volunteers, we require background checks.

Second, you should connect with volunteer opportunities by talking to the Office Manager and your child's teacher about ongoing opportunities, and by responding to emails about new opportunities.  

Third, if completing hours on campus, you should sign into our online HelpCounter system using the dedicated kiosk in the ISM front office to start clocking your hours and get your visitor badge, which you must wear while on campus. Then, sign out at the end of your service so that HelpCounter records your total time. If completing hours off campus, you should record your hours in HelpCounter from any computer, anywhere, anytime. As a registered user, you will receive an account and password. All data sits in a secure location and is backed up daily.