Harris Junior Academy Volunteers A Vital Part of our Program

July 01, 2006 | Nadine Messer

The cooperation and hard work of volunteers at Harris Junior Academy in Pendleton, Ore., is what makes our high-quality educational program possible each year. Built in the 1970s, the school serves kindergarten through 10th grade. Financial challenges each year mean we have needed to be creative to make ends meet. We are selling a few unused lots from the school property. We are renting extra classrooms to a preschool and daycare and renting the gym to a local orchestra and chorale for weekly rehearsals.

But one key way that we save money is by relying on the many volunteers who help at the school. Church members have painted the interior and exterior of the building, worked on the plumbing, installed a new sign by the school entrance and put up a play structure for the younger students. The part-time janitor, while paid a small amount, often contributes extra hours. A volunteer maintains the computer lab and the school’s computers. Several cooks volunteer, preparing daily hot lunches. Other willing workers keep up the school landscaping, perform office tasks, listen to children read, raise funds for classroom materials, and assist in the upper grade P.E. program.

Retiree Audrey Zummach has become our volunteer librarian, spending several afternoons a week at the school, cataloging books and other media, and conducting weekly classes for the students.

A natural teacher, Zummach makes a special effort to ensure that learning is fun for the students. For a number of weeks she hid a teddy bear called the Book Bear, which held a storybook in a pocket on its back. At her signal the children searched until one of them found the Book Bear. Then they would listen as she read them the story.

Recently, she taught grades one through four how to find books using the Dewey Decimal System. The children find the book, then she talks to them about their book, using a toy parrot that records and plays back their answers, much to the delight of the students.

Along with many others, Zummach contributes her time and life experience to benefit the students of the school and to enable Harris Junior Academy to carry on a program of excellence.