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Companies should consider volunteering at local schools - The Galveston County Daily News : Education

March 3, 2015

Companies should consider volunteering at local schools

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Posted: Monday, January 7, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 11:22 am, Mon Dec 15, 2014.

Community businesses looking for a New Year’s resolution should think about volunteering at local schools.

The need is greater than ever with school budgets being slashed, directly effecting before- and after-school program resources and staff. It also provides a direct link to the future workforce.

Take G&H Towing, a Galveston company that specializes in maritime services, mainly tugboats. Brittany Riordan is Assistant Director of Safety and Environment for G&H and a member of the Education and Community Outreach program of the Galveston Harbor Safety Committee. She reached out to the Galveston Independent School District to provide an educational after-school class geared toward teaching third- and fourth-grade students at Early Childhood University about the many careers in the maritime field.

After brainstorming with the 21st Century Community Learning Center leaders, G&H came up with curriculum for the class. A handful of volunteers from the company met with students for six sessions during the fall semester and provided hands-on activities involving maritime work. These included a knot-tying lesson, building boats out of aluminum foil to teach students about flotation, displacement and structure, and more.

“The students got a basic understanding about what tugboats do,” Riordan said. “No one really knew what a tugboat did, that this was a career path they could explore.

“It was a heightened sense of awareness and knowledge of jobs that they didn’t have to go to college for.”

In return, despite the good feeling associated with volunteering, the members of G&H Towing had direct access to the workers of tomorrow that may not have been aware of opportunities in their backyard.

Students had the chance to learn from master shipmen and mates, engineers, watch supervisors and relief masters, all who have experience in the maritime trade.

“I feel that there needs to be a shift in the education system that reaffirms our nation’s need of welders, plumbers and tugboat captains,” said Clay Buckley, who works as a mate for G&H Towing.

“Many of these jobs can be obtained with a GED, but with the proper encouragement and oversight, dropout rates may decrease and these same students may instead shoot for graduation, apprenticeship programs or trade schools. These jobs are high paying and can be very rewarding.”

If you’re a business interested in having a direct impact on the lives of young people, contact your local school district and see what you can do to contribute to the next generation.

“When we bring in a volunteer, that’s someone we don’t have to pay,” said Bridgett Temple, 21st Century CLC site coordinator for Early Childhood University.

“They can come in with services and supplies to make a class happen. It’s huge when they work with our students.”

Those interested in working with the district can contact Marianne Pascal Beerstecher, Senior District Coordinator for the 21st Century CLC program, 409-761-3937 or mariannebeerstecher@gisd.org.