An Unexpected Joy
Rachel Kest is an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship (Class 11) and is completing her 13th year at Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland, MA as the Director of Elementary and Family Education. Rachel can be reached at email@example.com.
In my role as principal of a Religious School, I frequently ask parents to take on leadership roles – from being a member of the school committee to being a room parent to just helping sell tickets at the annual Purim carnival. It is always a challenge to find people to help. Today’s parents are very busy and it seems that they are often unable to add one more thing to their already overflowing plate. Fortunately, through my eldest son’s pre-K program, I had the opportunity to experience the role of parent volunteer for myself.
The pre-K program in which he participates has a PTO that coordinates all of the “community building” activities for the families in the program. Early in the school year I was approached by the head of the PTO about becoming a room parent for my son’s class. To be honest, at first I was quite irritated by this request, as I am a parent who works full-time outside of the home, with very limited free time. Like the parents at my Religious School, I just couldn’t imagine adding one more task to my plate. But then I stopped and thought about it and ultimately accepted the position. At the time I rationalized it as a professional experiment; as someone who asks parents to help all of the time, I felt strongly that I should really understand what I was asking them to do.
In my capacity as room parent I coordinated meals for a family that was spending every day in the NICU with their premature infant; in addition, I had the honor to organize gifts for the teachers and therapists who work tirelessly with the children everyday. I had the opportunity to meet other parents and develop special relationships with members of the pre-K community that I would not otherwise have done had I not become involved. I am thrilled that I accepted this position as this experience has nurtured my soul in more ways than I could ever have imagined. I look forward to my next volunteer opportunity.