This week is Minnesota and National Volunteer Recognition Week, an ideal opportunity to express appreciation to all volunteers in a public forum. The volunteers' families and employers also merit recognition for sharing the time and talents of these excellent people.

The Anoka-Hennepin School District has a proud history of volunteerism. Volunteers assist in the classroom, in workrooms and on the athletic fields. They chaperone field trips, sports events and proms. They lead school-based and district-wide parent group efforts and participate on decision-making committees. They assist in English as a second language (ESL), collect data from kindergarten students on their pre-reading skills, sew costumes for plays, organize special projects with students, and complete marathons of clerical work.

The range of opportunities available to students expands greatly because of dedicated, trained volunteers who teach Challenge Reading, Picture Presenters, Challenge Math and other enrichment programs. Extracurricular academic activities such as Destination Imagination, First Robotics, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Fair, spelling bees and geography bees depend on volunteers.

The work of school volunteers is a tapestry of value to our community.

Parent volunteers benefit their own children. Research has demonstrated the positive correlation between parent involvement and student success.

Volunteers benefit the students they work with directly, those they greet in the hall, and those who see them at work. The Search Institute has identified nurturing adults outside of a child's nuclear family as an important positive influence in that child's development.

Volunteers show that they value education by giving their time and efforts to the school.

In Anoka-Hennepin, more than 9,000 active volunteers reported over 176,000 hours of work during the last school year. Independent Sector's Giving and Volunteering in the United States assigned a dollar value of $3,184,354 to their contribution of unpaid service to the district. Amazing as this figure is, it doesn't begin to encompass the true worth to our children.

The contribution of our volunteers, whether they are parents, grandparents, community members or staff volunteering outside of their paid work, help in so many ways toward our students achieving success. A heartfelt thanks to all our volunteers!