Greensburg Community Greeters help students at grade school and middle school start their day on a positive note.
A warm hand shake and a smile is a pretty good way to start the day. That's exactly what students get at USD 422 middle school and grade school as students walk through the door.
The greeters program is the brain child of third grade teacher Darise Fillmore who thought this would be a great way to get community members involved with the school. The volunteers stand at the door or sometimes hold the door open and greet every student as they arrive.
Sometimes, people can feel disconnected with the community. If the community gets involved with the school, they get a better perspective of what's going on at the school.
"The whole idea is to have a positive attitude about schools. That was my overall goal, was to have an overall positive school climate," Fillmore said.
She started with retired members of the community and visited the senior center. Her efforts resulted in the first two volunteers, Fillmore said.
Kiowa County Memorial Hospital encourages their employees to perform community service. Employees got relief time to get into the program. and every department at the hospital is involved. The police department got involved and one day a week they rotate officers who meet students at the door. There are a few community members that volunteer also. Fillmore also sent out flyers looking for volunteers.
Word of the program was spread by word of mouth and Fillmore ended up with 12 volunteers in all.
The volunteers greet students at the front door every day of the week starting around 7:45 a.m. and continuing until 8:10 a.m. Each greeter has a name tag and wears a special bright orange t-shirt with the words "It's great to be a Maverick."
The program has been successful. The greeters help start the students day in a positive way and its a way for volunteers to give back to the community.
"The kids love it. They love interacting with adults. They love seeing them opening the door and greeting them," Fillmore said.
Most of the volunteers say it brightens their day just to participate in the program. One volunteer said he looks forward to coming to work on his one day a week. One volunteer is a retired teacher and looks forward to greeting every Tuesday morning.
One advantage of having a small town is that among the staff in the buildings, they know everyone of the volunteers. In a larger town, they would have to do background checks and the same would be true in Greensburg if a stranger wanted to volunteer.But the staff already knew all the volunteers and some of the students had prior knowledge of the volunteers and enjoy seeing them at school as well in other situations.
"They get a kick of seeing them come through the door. Some students are even telling the volunteers a story as they come in," Fillmore said.