What does it take to become a Berkeley School Volunteer?
Above all else, it’s your interest in working with kids and teachers that will set you up for success as a school volunteer….but we do have some requirements and friendly reminders.
We ask that classroom volunteers have at least 2 hours a week available to volunteer and can make a commitment of at least one semester–although some teachers and school staff are willing to orient and train you for as little as 30 minutes each week. Our age requirement is 16 years (by the first day of volunteering) and “minor” volunteers are usually restricted to placements working with Pre-K through 5th grade students.
We place volunteers directly with supervising teachers and staff, not with individual students, so teachers control how, where and when to apply volunteer support. Some volunteer placements will require fingerprinting for a background check (at no charge to you) while others do not. Once we know the name of your supervising teacher or staff person, we can address that question. All volunteers will need a valid form of government issued photo ID (unless you are a minor with parent/guardian permission.)
Teachers tell us that consistency and punctuality are more important than being an expert in a particular subject or having years of experience. We will present many volunteer options during our required, new volunteer orientation, during which you will tell us in what type of volunteer opportunity you would like us to place you. You can also read through our volunteer opportunities and urgent needs web pages before you attend– or contact our office for more information!
What kind of volunteer are you?
BSV volunteers are as diverse in their experiences and interests as their reasons for volunteering. Please click on one of the below options to learn more about the corresponding type of volunteer process.
Please take a look at the volunteer orientation and placement process below, as well as our more specific pages on BSV orientations and volunteer opportunities. You can always contact BSV with specific questions or bring them to the orientation!
How to become a BSV Volunteer:Step-by-Step Instructions
- Attend one of our required, scheduled orientations. We will give you information about our programs, answer your questions, and have you fill out a Volunteer Registration Form with your preferences, so that we can match your needs with our available placements. These orientations occur about once a week throughout the semester on various times & days of the week, and is one hour long. See our orientation page for an updated schedule of orientations – RSVPs are required. Please bring a government-issued photo ID and the names and phone numbers of two references who can verify your educational, professional, volunteer or personal history. Please do not include your family members.
- After the orientation, it will take us about 10 business days to process and send your placement contact information, site details and volunteer badge to your mailing address on file. We send the same placement confirmation and your contact information to the teacher or staff member to whom you are assigned. Please initiate contact with the teacher/staff member to decide on a start date and arrange a volunteer schedule. If you have not received your placement after 10 business days or you do not hear back from your teacher/staff person after at least 3 business days, please contact us for assistance. Mail can be slow and teachers are always busy, so don’t take it personally; they do want your help!
- Once you are in contact with your teacher or staff member, please respect your placement and treat it like a job: arrive and leave on-time, communicate any schedule changes before an absence, follow the suggestions in our Orientation Handouts. Please be specific about your time commitment and needs. Teachers spend a long time investing in you and hope you will stick around long enough for it to pay off in support.
- If for some reason you cannot continue your assignment (schedule changes, teacher is not responsive, not a good fit, etc.) please let us know as soon as possible and we will start the assignment process again. Please make sure to talk to the teacher so s/he is aware that you are not returning!
We have many groups from our community volunteering in our schools! Groups interested in volunteering need to speak with BSV in order to ensure that the best match can be made between your group’s interests and skills and our district’s needs.
Before you contact BSV, please consider the following:
- How often and when are your group members available to volunteer? Do you need to volunteer together, with the same host teacher and/or at the same school site? Please be specific!
- Is there a particular grade level or subject area that your group would be interested in working with?
- When would group members be available for a volunteer orientation?
Please note we can only schedule private orientations for 10 or more volunteers per training. If you cannot schedule at least 10 people for the orientation time, your group will need to attend a regularly scheduled, new volunteer orientation.
Next, please contact BSV with your answers to discuss the next steps for your group. Thanks!
On occasion, BSV is able to place individual volunteers and/or groups with a teacher or school staff member who is in need of assistance with a one-time project. Please be aware that one-time-only support is not a regular function of our office and is rarely accommodated at school sites.
Past projects have included:
- Library organization, display creation, and book maintenance
- Garden work day at one of our school gardens
- School clean-up or organization days
- School festivals, fundraisers, or other events
Before you contact BSV, please consider the following:
- When is your group available to volunteer?
- Does your group need to volunteer together, or are they flexible? Please explain any limitations.
- What kind of one-time project is your group interested in?
Next, please contact BSV to discuss the next steps for your group. Thanks!
Volunteering in our community’s schools is an extremely rewarding and mutually beneficial experience for everyone involved—especially our youth. We are all so grateful for your time, energy and wealth of ideas! Please let us know if you have suggestions for programs, improvements of existing ones, or just good old fashioned observations. It’s volunteers like you, serving as our eyes and ears in the schools, who have helped us shape BSV into what it is today.