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Volunteer in Paradise
About VIP Tutoring Program
Volunteer in Paradise (VIP) Tutors provide one-on-one and small group instruction to students in kindergarten through 8th grade. Teachers nominate students who qualify for tutoring and provide the appropriate curriculum. VIPs partner with teachers to provide reading and math instruction. Students receive in person and/or virtual instruction by dedicated adult tutors during the school day or after school.
All VIPs receive 8 hours of initial training to become effective, confident tutors and the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in a child’s life. If you would like to learn more, please contact Marisha Geraghty, VIP Specialist, at (602) 449-2053 or via email VolunteerInParadise@pvschools.net.
Orientations are held once per month (with the exception of December) beginning in June and ending in February. Orientations are held at the Paradise Valley Unified School District Offices on 32nd Street, just south of Greenway Road, at 15002 N. 32nd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85032.
See the VIP Program in Action
Volunteer in Paradise! Recruitment for the 2021-22 School Year Is Now Under Way!
We are looking for dedicated, high-quality volunteers seeking meaningful opportunities to make a difference. Volunteer tutors are needed in all subject areas in kindergarten through grade 8. Opportunities may be available at many of our elementary and middle schools.
Our volunteers recommend the VIP program to friends and family seeking volunteer opportunities.
Our teachers report that the academic achievement of their students increases due to the additional academic intervention provided by our volunteers.
Our volunteers will:
- Work one-on-one or with small groups of children with the goal of increasing their achievement.
- Serve as caring adult role models.
- Receive professional training to prepare for working in a classroom.
- Develop a supportive working relationship with teachers.
- Become part of a school community.
- Meet new friends through continuing education seminars and socials.
- Volunteer at least one day per week for a predetermined schedule.
- Work from one to 10 hours per week during school hours.
- Commit to the entire academic school year ending in May.
- Complete a fingerprint background check upon making a commitment.
- Attend the two-hour volunteer orientation and two half-days of professional training.
Our mission is to increase student achievement by providing instructional assistance and the individual attention of dedicated, high-quality volunteers while also promoting positive school and community partnerships.
- Provide additional one-on-one and small group instruction opportunities for students.
- Foster positive intergenerational relationships and provide caring adult role models.
- Create meaningful opportunities for experienced and talented adults to make a difference.
- Train members of the community to be effective and confident tutors.
- Partner with teachers and staff by facilitating and streamlining the process of utilizing volunteers in the classroom.
2021 Service Enterprise Certification Awarded to VIP
Points of Light
Points of Light has awarded certification to Volunteer in Paradise to be a Service Enterprise. VIP joins the top 11 percent of nonprofits nationwide in volunteer management and organizational performance and is the only school district with a program in Arizona to hold this prestigious distinction. Achieving this certification signifies that VIP has the capability and management expertise to strategically use volunteers to improve the performance of the organization. The rigorous process took 12 months to complete, and entailed partnering with the ASU Lodestar Center, which provided coaching and training to the VIP Administrator and the Leadership Team. VIP will be up for re-certification in 2024.
Golden Bell Promise Programs Award Winner
Arizona School Boards Association
PVSchools Volunteer in Paradise (VIP) program received the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) Golden Bell Promise Programs Award for Excellence in Collaboration during the Golden Bell Promise Programs Luncheon at the 2017 ASBA-ASA Annual Conference. The Golden Bell Promise Award recognizes school programs throughout Arizona that have shown outstanding successes in student growth.
First Place Magna Award
National School Boards Association
The Magna Awards recognize school districts and their leaders who take bold and innovative steps to improve the lives of their students and their communities. An independent panel of school board members, administrators and other educators selected the winners from nearly 250 submissions, and the presentation was made at NSBA's Annual Conference in Nashville. Our VIP program earned a First Place Magna Award in 2015.
- What our VIPs are saying about their experience...
“Life is amazing as a VIP! I absolutely love everything about this enriching experience…The students themselves are a joy and I love seeing their dedication pay off in large dividends!”
"As a retired teacher, I am quite impressed with how much effort and energy the district put into the VIP program."
“I absolutely LOVE working with the students! The staff has all been very supportive and helpful to me. I am very impressed with the teachers and their dedication to their students."
"The teachers seem very interested in having a volunteer help their students succeed. It does make me feel like a VIP."
- What teachers say about their VIPs...
"The students absolutely love working with him and beg for a chance to have a turn.”
“I’ve…really enjoyed the amazing insight that the VIPs have for me at the end of their tutoring sessions…Some of the insight is new and allows me to take a different approach with that student and some reaffirms what I’ve been seeing on my own.”
“I love the acronym for our volunteers, because they are very important to so many of our students. The attention, caring, kindness, and support of our VIPs has made a huge difference to our students and enables our teachers to meet the needs of each child. We are so grateful!”
“Not only did the students benefit from the small group intensity and focus in their academic pursuits, they appreciated the “VIP” treatment and attention! They also felt a sense of pride that the broader community respects their effort in school, and considers it worthy of the support of adults not already in their circle.”
- What aspiring teachers engaged in the VIP College Corps have to say...
"I cannot wait to be a teacher, especially after this experience."
"The teacher I got was awesome! And the kids were great. This experience made me fall in love with my profession even more."
- Former Desert Cove Principal Chad Lanese on the VIP College Corps program...
"The end result is that our students gain exposure to positive role models and receive additional support at school. Our teachers gain a volunteer in the classroom and also serve as mentors, guiding PVCC students in understanding what it takes to be an effective teacher. VIP College Corps is truly a benefit to our students and staff!"
VIP Frequently Asked Questions
- What qualifications and experience are required for volunteers?
If you like children, enjoy learning new things, and would like to make a difference in the life of a child, you are qualified to be a VIP! We welcome volunteers from all walks of life. We will provide two half-days of training before you are sent to work in a classroom.
- What are the requirements?
You will need to complete an orientation and training and pass a fingerprint background check before you report to the classroom. You are asked to work at least one hour per week on a regular schedule for the remainder of the school year.
- What if I have travel or other plans that might cause me to miss a couple of tutoring sessions throughout the year?
This is certainly understandable. You are asked to give the teacher notice of the day(s) you will miss so that he or she can plan accordingly.
- What do VIP volunteers do?
VIP volunteers work directly with students in kindergarten through grade six to provide instruction. You might work one-on-one or with small groups of children out in the media center. Or, you may work alongside the teacher in the classroom by answering individual questions from students. Most volunteers help students with reading and math, but the teacher may ask you to help in other subject areas, too. Volunteers who offer to work a two- or three-hour shift are often given the opportunity to work with two or three different teachers. You will have the chance to express grade level and subject area preferences, if you have them.
- To which school will I be assigned?
Eventually, we would like to place VIPs in every one of the Paradise Valley schools that makes a request for volunteers. However, in a district the size of the PVSchools it will take many years to recruit enough volunteers to accomplish this. We are currently serving teachers and students in seven elementary schools. You may express your school preference.
- Can you tell me more about the Volunteer Orientation? I haven’t decided whether I am ready to make a commitment yet.
The orientation should prove most helpful in making your decision. We will provide detailed information about our schools and VIP volunteer responsibilities. We will also allow ample time to answer questions. If you are ready to make a commitment at the conclusion of our one-hour presentation, our Human Resources technicians will help you complete the paperwork and fingerprinting at that time. If you still require a little more time to think things over, we can arrange for you to complete the fingerprint background check process at a later date.
- I have a fingerprint card. Will I still need to be fingerprinted?
Maybe not, if the card is an unexpired Level One Fingerprint Card. Please send us the information in advance and bring the card with you to the orientation.
- I was fingerprinted when I volunteered for another school/nonprofit. Will I need to be fingerprinted again?
Yes, you will probably need to be fingerprinted again. There is no central database, so it is not possible for us to verify your clearance. There is one exception. If you were fingerprinted by PVSchools as a former employee or volunteer, please let us know so that we can alert the Human Resources Department; they may be able to look up your name in advance.
- Is there a charge for fingerprinting?
No. The company that performs this service does charge the school district (approximately $55), but the district has traditionally absorbed that cost for volunteers. VIP applicants who wish to make a donation to help defray the cost to the district are welcome to do so. However, we do not want this expense to be an obstacle to anyone who wishes to volunteer his or her time in our schools.
- What will I learn in training?
Specialists from our PVSchools Curriculum Department have developed and will lead hands-on training in strategies for teaching language arts/reading and math, and will introduce materials available for VIPs to use with students. You will also learn about the assessments teachers use to individualize instruction, the new Arizona College and Career Ready Standards (formerly Common Core), emergency procedures, child abuse reporting plus school funding, legislation and policies. The training will be given in two sessions, each three hours long.
- How is ongoing support provided once I begin work in a school?
The VIP Coordinator sends regular VIP News via email, and reminders of upcoming early release days and school holidays are included. You are asked to complete a monthly report sharing your challenges and successes. Questions, concerns and suggestions from volunteers are always welcome at any time. Last, but certainly not least, we can arrange for our VIP Mentor to meet you at your school during your volunteer session to model a lesson, observe you and answer specific questions. She is a retired educator and an experienced VIP.
- The home page mentions continuing education seminars and socials. Can you tell me more?
Yes! Numerous opportunities are offered, and all are optional. Professional development workshops are provided by district specialists, trainers, and educators and may be similar to those offered to our teachers. One-time service projects such as the PVCC Club Ed Structured Autism Events may take place at your own school or other school campuses. You may volunteer to chaperone field trips. Volunteer recognition events are held at the school and district level.
- What should I do if I have a problem while volunteering?
- Will schools participating in the VIP program continue to use parent volunteers?
Yes, definitely. Our schools have a long history of utilizing parent volunteers and their contributions are invaluable. The VIP program is designed to welcome other adults who may not yet have a connection to our schools. (A parent, stepparent or legal guardian of a student at the school where the parent, stepparent or legal guardian wishes to volunteer may contact the teacher or the school directly.)
- What is the VIP College Corps?
College students enrolled in education courses at Paradise Valley Community College and Northern Arizona University receive credit for the service-learning and practicum hours they earn while interning in PVSchools. Other aspiring educators are welcome to consider joining our original VIP program. It is a great way to gain classroom experience, build a resume and network with the professionals in our schools.
- What if I have additional questions?