Always in deep winter, I find myself reflecting on the year that has just past. And for Berkeley Schools Volunteers, 2019 was a year of transformation.
It was just last December that the board of the Berkeley Public Schools Fund was in painful deliberations over the future of the Berkeley Schools Volunteers program. It had been drifting for some time, unsure of its potential. Ultimately, however, the board’s belief in a vision of an engaged community active in local schools prevailed. BSV would be reborn!
I joined the team in February and starting in March, my charge was to get to know the BUSD community. In over 60 listening sessions with volunteers, teachers, and principals, I learned what was working, what needed more love, and what other visions for a district-wide volunteer program could be. From all of this input, a new vision for BSV started to take form.
The foggy days of July were thick with the redesign: refreshed forms, reinvented trainings, and a whole new website. Big thanks to the behind-the-scenes work of our team (most notably Diane Dew and Morris Callegari) for their detailed and inspirational artistry.
In August, BSV re-launched! It was exhilarating to watch the volunteer names, each with a story and a hope for Berkeley schools, flood our inboxes. Simultaneously, we launched BSV’s Learning Community with the pilot of our first equity trainings, created in partnership with Family Engagement leader Ann Callegari.
September was especially busy with new folks to welcome, veterans to place, and orientations and trainings scheduled every single week. Thanks especially to our long-time volunteers who were patient and gracious with us! During this month, our team also traveled to every BUSD campus announcing the relaunch of BSV and warmly invited teachers to re-engage with us!
And that they did! October was just as busy, connecting with new corners of our district (preschools! adult school!) and building volunteer pipelines (Hurray for Berkeley City College!) in the community. We were also thrilled to start welcoming Schools Fund staff and board members into the BSV equity trainings for some shared organizational learning around equity.
November saw the expansion of our Learning Community, with the first in a series of math trainings for elementary volunteers. We established a new partnership with the Berkeley Food Network and published our first official BSV e-newsletter, beautifully designed by our new communications lead, Haldun Morgan.
And just this week in December, Berkeley Schools Volunteers rounded the 200 mark for number of active Berkeley Schools Volunteers. And you all keep coming!
Thank you for being a part of our small but mighty community volunteer revolution. Thank you for making Berkeley Schools Volunteers what it is today and is becoming tomorrow. And most importantly, thank you for showing up week in, week out for our young people. As we all know well, when students come to school and feel connected to the adults there, powerful and beautiful things ensue.
A deep bow of gratitude to our Berkeley Schools Volunteers. May you enjoy some deep rest over the break (since teachers will need you re-energized for January!)
Berkeley Public Schools Fund
Director of Programs