Volunteering at Seattle Public Schools Frequently Asked Questions
What general volunteer roles are available through Seattle Public Schools?
Each school has a person working in the capacity as a volunteer coordinator; and each school offer different volunteer needs depending on their program. Often, schools are looking for volunteers who have skills that make them a good fit for their specific school community.
Here is a short list of the general types of volunteers that our schools look for:
- Academic support—tutoring during the school day, as well as in before and after school programs
- Enrichment volunteers—providing enrichment activities such as arts, drama, etc.
- Clerical/administrative volunteers—providing office or library support, supporting classroom teachers
- One-time volunteers—supporting family events, helping with building maintenance projects, guest presenters
What is the process for getting started as a volunteer with Seattle Public Schools?
In order to get started as a volunteer with Seattle Public Schools, you will need to:
- Choose a school—you can find a list of schools: school directly.
- Contact the school’s main office and ask for their volunteer coordinator
- Complete the required paperwork
- Discuss and confirm your role, schedule and expectations
- Ask school staff about orientation and training materials and attending an orientation.
Where can I find more information about volunteer roles in my neighborhood school?
You can often find out more about volunteer opportunities at local schools by looking at their website or the PTA website. When looking at school websites, look both for highlighted volunteer opportunities and for a list of community partners. Often community-based organizations provide before and after-school programming and coordinate volunteers during the school day. You can find a list of schools on our school directory webpage.
You can also call the school directly. The administrative assistant should be able to direct you to the volunteer coordinator who works directly with volunteers in the schools.
Do Seattle Public Schools ever need groups of volunteers on evenings or weekends?
While most of our volunteer opportunities happen during school hours, schools occasionally need volunteers for one-time events and for maintenance projects. Building maintenance projects are coordinated by our Self-Help Office (schools that are helping themselves to complete identified maintenance or building projects). Please visit our School Self Help Projects webpage for more information.
What paperwork is required to get started as a volunteer with Seattle Public Schools?
Seattle Public Schools welcome community members to volunteer at schools across the district. In order for a community member to start volunteering, they must:
- Complete a Volunteer Application Form.
- Be cleared by Washington State Access To Criminal Background Check (WATCH)
- Read and sign the Volunteer Handbook
- View online Adult Sexual Misconduct Prevention safety video
To run a background check, you must:
- Complete a Screening Form
- Provide a clear copy of Washington State ID or Driver’s License
Is this a requirement for all volunteers?
This paperwork is mandatory for all volunteers unless they are a guest/visitor at a school. See Visitor/Guest category located in the Volunteer Handbook for additional information.
I’ve heard that overnight chaperones sometimes need additional background checks. Is fingerprinting required for overnight field trip chaperones/volunteers?
Any overnight field trip chaperones living continuously in Washington state for more than two years shall not be required to be fingerprinted, WATCH clearance shall suffice;
- Verification of continuous residence will be required for overnight field trip chaperones requesting waiver of the fingerprinting requirements. The school volunteer coordinator will verify residence (issue date on driver license, mortgage, insurance, property tax statement and/or employment statement are examples)
- For those who have lived in WA State for less than two (2) years fingerprinting is required.
I’ve heard that my employer, organization or agency can vouch that I’ve taken a background screening/fingerprints.
Organizations/employers may have an opportunity to prequalify their employees to volunteer for Seattle Public Schools without going through the required background check. Employers must notify the Volunteer Management Department in writing regarding their Employees’ fingerprinting/background check information.
The Volunteer Management Department will make a determination of acceptability. Please contact the Volunteer Manager Department at: Volunteer@seattleschools.org.
Is fingerprinting required for Out of Country field trip chaperone/volunteer?
Out of Country chaperones must be fingerprinted.
NOTE: Volunteer coaches for sports programs need to have additional screening through fingerprinting.
What are the expectations or responsibilities for Seattle Public Schools volunteers?
As a volunteer in our schools, you play a critical role in supporting students. Here are some expectations that we have of our volunteers in order to ensure their effectiveness in supporting students and schools:
- Be prompt, dependable, and regular in attendance.
- Support and supplement the instruction of the classroom teacher—you are expected to assist what is going on in the classroom.
- Clearly communicate any problems that arise with the teacher, librarian or volunteer coordinator.
- Notify the teacher, librarian or school volunteer coordinator if a student confides in you about an abusive situation. Staff will do the reporting and follow-up.
- Respect confidentiality of students and school staff—ensure that a child’s work and behavior in school are held in confidence.
- Remember that you are acting as a role model for children.
What training is available for Seattle Public Schools volunteers?
Due to budget constraints, Seattle Public Schools is no longer able to provide centralized trainings. Each school is expected to provide an orientation that orients new volunteers to the school building and school community, as well as expectations for volunteers.
There are many resources in our community that support volunteer tutors for schools and community-based organizations. One excellent resource is the Seattle Tutoring Coalition, which provides three All-City Tutor Trainings per year.
These workshop-based trainings often include topics such as:
- Tutoring 101
- Motivating Your Students
- Basics in Reading and Math Tutoring
- Working with ELL Students
- Cultural Competency 101
If after reading these FAQs you still have additional questions about volunteering, please contactVolunteer Management Department at at 206-252-0529; Volunteer@seattleschools.org orOmbudsman@seattleschools.org.