There’s a volunteer voice that often blends in with those of students during music class at Gerard Elementary School.
Marilyn King has combined her love of music and work with children for more than ten years as a participant in the Cleburne ISD Volunteers In Public Schools program.
The District Inservice for new and returning members of VIPS will be held Thursday at 9 a.m. in the CISD Central Offices, 505 N. Ridgeway. The session will provide an overview of the VIPS program and mini-sessions with campus principals in preparation for the new school year, and a new year of volunteer service. In 2017-18, participants of VIPS contributed more than 12,000 hours to CISD in their work with students and staff.
King will be starting her eleventh year as a volunteer with Cleburne schools. She is not your typical VIPS participant, as she provides an extra set of hands to Gerard music teacher Hazel Bell--who is also her sister.
“She’s in charge of teaching,” King said. “I’m there to help with whatever is needed. That can be needs related to instruction, helping students or organizing music or instruments Hazel will be using for the lesson that day. I often sit with the kids as they sing, making sure they are on the right page or on the right section of music.”
“There have been times Hazel has had an entire grade level or several classes she’s working with in getting them ready for a program or performance,” King said. “An extra pair of eyes and hands helps in times like that. She often uses choreography to help the kids keep the rhythm. I dance along with them so their teacher can focus on the big picture and the technical stuff. I’m just there to help keep the music going.”
King’s efforts to harmonize with her sister’s work with students began at Adams Elementary, and now at Gerard, where Bell creates musical magic with the Grizzlies.
“I think she just told me one day she was coming to help as a volunteer,” Bell said. “She’s very good with children. She always walks the little ones back to class. If one child might need help with something, she can assist them, allowing the class to keep on singing.”
“There’s so many things volunteers do for us,” Bell said. “Copying, taking care of the detail work outside the classroom, helping the young students in the cafeteria open their milk cartons. What they do outside the classroom gives teachers more time to plan, to address the work going on inside the classroom.”
And for Bell and her volunteer sibling—that’s music. According to King, music was a big part of their lives growing up.
“Music was always Hazel’s thing,” King said. “When we were in elementary school, she played piano for Kiwanis Club and I and our other sisters would sing. We also did this for other community groups and we sang in church--we are lifelong members of Field Street Baptist.”
But for King, volunteering isn’t just about the melody.
“Everyone should have a passion and a purpose,” she said. “For me, that’s working with children and teaching children. I believe this is where God wants me to be at this point. I feel a school volunteer can make a difference in children’s lives. Kids look forward to seeing you there. For me, it’s like having a grandmother, or a grandpal—someone special at school for you. It’s something that’s needed at the schools and by teachers.”
“Volunteering helps me, in retirement, to feel I’m needed,” King said. “I can still contribute. I’ve seen so many people my age who are right there serving. If you have that ‘something,’ that calling, it keeps you going. It wouldn’t be my life if I wasn’t working with children.”
For more information on the Cleburne ISD volunteer program, contact Lisa Magers, director of community relations, 817-202-1127 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers In Public Schools member Marilyn King follows the words, and notes, along with a class of fourth graders during music period at Gerard Elementary. Cleburne ISD’s District Inservice for new and returning volunteers will be held Thursday at 9 a.m. at the Central Offices Building.