by Lois Jamieson
A week ago, I wrote about a volunteer, Kathe, who rescued me from a tired library.
The second year Kathe worked at StarShine, while still working in the library, we decided it would be a good experience for the third through eighth grade girls to take an etiquette class designed just for them.
The first thing we had to do was convince their teachers, Jen and Ana, that it would be a good learning experience.
The problem was the timing of the class. We narrowed it down to the lunch recess. The girls didn’t all go to lunch at the same time and without these two wonderful teachers, we couldn’t have scheduled the class. The teachers agreed to let the girls out of class for lunch at a different time than usual. Then we had to get the girls to agree to give up their playground time. We thought we were secure with the timing until we realized that two of the girls we wanted to include were in a special class taught by Mary. Mary was enthusiastic about the project and agreed to try it.
We made up personal invitations for the girls and passed them out. 100% of the girls seemed to like the idea and signed up for the class. So now -- we had the teachers on board, and the girls enthusiastically signed up and all we had to do was figure out the curriculum.
Kathe had never taught an etiquette class before and I had limited experience. We decided to call the class ‘Matters Matter’ and went to the internet for books and advice. We added this all together and felt confident that we could do it. We bought each girl a small colorful notebook and poured two large bags of M & M candies into a bowl. On the first day of the weekly class, we welcomed thirteen girls. The class was successful – we all got along well and had a lot of laughs and love.
From the first day, Kathe and I loved teaching this class and got to know the girls very well.
We did, however, make some mistakes. Most etiquette classes are on a six-week schedule. We didn’t even think about this and decided to make it a school year project. Somewhere after six or seven weeks, we ran out of ideas. We asked the girls and they said they would just like to start over again. So, that’s what we did.
By school’s end, those thirteen young girls knew how to set a table and dine out in a restaurant. They perfected their posture, learned how to sit and stand properly and how to meet people. They knew how to write thank you notes and to say please and thank you. They wrote in their notebooks diligently. Some days we just sat and talked.
We rewarded them with a ‘Spa Day’ at the school and an end of the year luncheon with graduation certificates.
This was a very special year for Kathe and me. We learned a lot and we think the girls did too.
If enjoyed reading this inspirational story about volunteering, Kathe and Lois’ Great Idea. You’ll want to read: A Bittersweet Party