Sometimes after listening to the same coach or teacher everyday it is good to have the message delivered by a different voice. Hillsborough County teachers don’t have assistant coaches to lean on, but they do have SERVE, a recipient of a 2009 Lightning Foundation Grant.
SERVE is a private, non-profit agency that was founded in 1969. The organization recruits and involves diversely talented volunteers from the community to help Hillsborough County public schools by enriching the curriculum, assisting school administrators and meeting the needs of individual students.
“SERVE’s mission is to increase student achievement and enhance the educational experience by providing community volunteers that support Hillsborough County educators,” SERVE Executive Director Donna Houchen said.
With the grant from the Lightning Foundation, SERVE will be able to continue providing speakers in Hillsborough classrooms. The volunteers are community members, parents, business leaders, college students, senior citizens and more. Others speakers are individuals with hobbies, talents or other special interests that add to the classroom’s curriculum.
The Lightning actually have volunteers currently in the SERVE program. Radio play-by-play announcer Dave Mishkin volunteers with his “Score with Reading” program while television play-by-play man Rick Peckham hosts “Hockey by the Numbers”.
“The Lightning Foundation Grant will enable SERVE to provide volunteer speakers in the classroom,” Houchen said. “These speakers provide real world experience and show how the skills students learn are important in everyday life. In addition, the grant will allow SERVE to provide career and motivational speakers to help students decide what they want to be and do when they leave the school district.”
Speakers can be anyone with a positive attitude and a willingness to share their knowledge. They must have excellent communications skills and an interest in helping children. There are numerous speaker topics including advertising, animals, banking, insects, nursing, stocks and bonds, stamp collecting, nutrition, government and financial planning to name a few.
In order to participate in the program teachers must contact SERVE and request speakers on a variety of topics. SERVE then matches their request with speakers that fit those specific requests. The speaker and the teacher then work out a date and time. The speaker and the teacher will also talk beforehand regarding what topics of conversation will be covered.
SERVE also provides tutor partners where volunteers work with students on a weekly basis. They also encourage partnerships among education, business and industry, as well as community groups. For more information visit www.servevolunteers.org.