Signing students up for MAVS

Before: We used to put a MAVS flyer and sign-up form in every student’s opening-day packet. It took weeks for our parent volunteers to shuffle through the hundreds of new students to add them into our distribution list.

Students signed up to work at a charity by calling or eMailing the organization directly. Each organization was responsible for verifying a student’s hours by signing a form the student brought. Problems arose when students forgot to bring the form or forgot to show up for their appointed time.

Now: When students log in to x2VOL, they see a list of available opportunities based on interests they specified when registering for MAVS. Students click “sign up” to pick an activity, which then goes into their log. An eMail reminder is automatically sent prior to the event. Students can use recurring activities or create custom events.

Publicizing community service opportunities

Before: Partners in Education (PIE)—a program organized by our district, Katy Independent School District—initially helped us meet hundreds of local organizations and businesses. However, after the initial connection, requesting student help took too much time.

Organizations told us what kind of help they needed, including the number of students, dates, hours, and skills. Our office staff wrote up a card detailing these needs and how to sign up, then posted it on a bulletin board, circulated it to the community service club leader, and sometimes announced it during daily announcements. Parent liaisons also sent eMail messages to students about upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Now: All the community organizations and charities connected with our school are already signed up in x2VOL and can enter their specific needs: a description of the work and special instructions such as minimum age, time, number of students needed, and location. We still receive occasional requests via phone or eMail, but when those arrive, we walk the organization through registration with x2VOL.

Confirming hours after service

Before: Students would fill out a form with the date, hours given, and comments about their service. After it was signed by the organizational representative, the student turned this form into the school coordinator. Starting in April of every year, our staff and parent liaisons verified hours by calling or eMailing every organization. These paper records were kept for one year in case a student needed a copy of his or her records at a later date.

Now: Upon completing their hours, students log in to x2VOL with their mobile app or go to the online system, where they record their hours and write reflections about their service. The community service organization verifies student work individually or in batches. Students no longer need to bring in papers to be signed by monitors; they just submit their hours and reflections online, and the organization verifies the work in x2VOL. Our school coordinator then can approve service in batches or by individual.

Obtaining reports

Before: Students needing a report for college or scholarship applications contacted the school coordinator and requested one. The school coordinator collated hours by hand from the student’s forms, which were stored in a binder. Until this year, we only stored records for one year. After that, students were responsible for having their own official reports at home for any future needs or if they lost the information completely.

Now: Students don’t have to ask our staff for a report. They can generate their own report showing verified hours with details about type of work, charity name, and reflections. Administrators also can run any report they need to analyze service trends or to run cumulative reports for recognizing students at year end or for mid-semester motivation.

Here are 10 tips that I feel can make a community service program operate smoothly in a high school: