Classroom Volunteers Having An Impact In Washoe Schools

Some of the most valuable people in our schools aren

Classroom Volunteer Steve Burns

RENO, NV - Steve Burns bends over a student's work sheet at a desk in Ron Jacobson's math class at Reno's Vaughn Middle School explaining the way through an algebra problem.

The student nods. Burns smiles.

This is not how Steve Burns imagined spending his retirement.

Leaving Boeing after 33 years as a systems analyst he eventually moved to Reno and looked around for something to keep busy.

The Retired Seniors Volunteer Program sent him to the school district where initially he worked on computers. Noting he had math skills someone suggested he might be valuable in the classroom. It was a perfect fit.

Now any school day you'll find him over in the corner of Ron Jacobson's classroom giving some one on one attention to 8th and 7th graders struggling with algebra.

"It's just a very pleasant thing to do and the kids are terrific," he says.

Burns says he thoroughly enjoyed his days at Boeing, but at this stage of his life, he may have found his true calling.

"I think I may end up being some kind of tutor until I'm so old and feeble that I can't get in here anymore."

Jacobson is the first to say Burns is a big help.

"My time is limited. I've got 26 kids in this class. I got someone who needs six minutes of help, Mr. Burns fits the bill and he knows his math."

And this kind of team work is making a difference.

"Absolutely," says Vaughn Principal Dr. Ginny Knowles.
"We've been able to quantify the impact because our scores went up from the 30 percent range to almost 70 percent in January. He's a big part of that."

Burns is doing all of this as a volunteer, though he'd be the last to say he's unpaid.

"Every once in a while a kid gets up from the table after I've been helping them, showing hot to work a problem they were stuck on and they say 'thank you, Mr. Burns' and that's gold. I'd rather have that than be paid a couple of hundred thousand a year."

Burns is one of four volunteers at Vaughn.There are many others scattered throughout the Washoe County School District. In fact, the district may have the largest volunteer force in the state.

There's always a need for more.

If you'd like more information on the volunteer program contact Administrator Lisa-Marie Lightfoot at 851-5655.

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