Unsung Heroes: Volunteers make a difference at MHA

Every day, elementary school students at Mars Hill Academy file into the lunchroom, set up their food, and enjoy 20 minutes of fun and fellowship with classmates.

Invariably, hands go up, and parent volunteers spring into action. Stubborn thermos lids are loosened, string cheese is set free from frustrating packaging, oranges are peeled, and spoons are doled out. 

“Our lunch helpers are incredible,” said Jenny Baker, MHA mother and lunchroom coordinator. “They have no idea how important they are. Their service allows our teachers to help students make up work missed and to offer extra time or assistance to them during lunch time.”

These unsung heroes of the lunchroom provide service with a smile and are but one example of the volunteer spirit that pervades throughout MHA.

“We truly are blessed with incredible families who answer the call to serve our students, teachers, and office staff,” said Head of School Mark Cotterman. “Each day our volunteers enrich our students’ experience in a variety of ways.”

Research shows that volunteers make a difference in the lives of students – developing role model relationships; creating opportunities for children to communicate with other adults; creating positive behavior; and impacting attendance.

Since its humble beginnings in a church basement more than twenty years ago, Mars Hill Academy has relied on parents to create community. Today, new families often are surprised at how welcome they are in their child’s classroom. 

“It is easy to get involved,” said Lydia Frank, parent of two MHA students. “Teachers have classroom events and tasks so well-organized parents can jump into a role that best suits their talents and schedule.”

Grandparents, too, play a special part in the school community.

 “I especially appreciate our grandparent reading group helpers,” said second grade teacher Natalie Walls. “They have that special touch, making the children feel comfortable and loved. And they take the time to enjoy the students and play with them as only grandparents can.”

Many grandparents perform vital tasks, such as stuffing envelopes, helping in the art room, or painting scenery for an upcoming play.

“Grandparents bring a special group of skills and wisdom to any task,” said fourth grade teacher and drama producer Lisa Cunningham. “I love having grandparents involved in our school plays. They take time to help sew, find props, paint scenery, or bring sandwiches to the cast.”

The Parent Teacher Fellowship mobilizes volunteers throughout the year – from room parents, library cart helpers, and fellowship set up and clean up crews to office volunteers, cooks, plant sale helpers, and photographers.

“We want to engage our moms, dads, grandparents, and even older students,” said PTF President Anne Lynn Minick.“The PTF creates fellowship for our families, raises funds, provides teacher appreciation meals, and organizes volunteers for everything from the library to the lunch room — and we have fun doing it.”

Mars Hill Academy is Cincinnati’s only private, independent K-12 classical Christian school. One of only 42 schools nationwide accredited by the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS), Mars Hill Academy offers a proven educational method used for millennia to build sharp minds and a love for learning. For more information, please call 513-770-3223 or visit www.marshill.edu

Cutline: Mars Hill Academy grandmother Diana Taggart regular serves as a lunchroom volunteer.