Volunteer Guide

Read the VOLUNTEER GUIDE below to discover which areas of our community need your skills, read descriptions of common volunteer activities, and find the right people to connect with to get involved. There are many ways for you to be involved in your child’s educational experience! Our goal is to help you find your niche – whether sharing a talent, helping in fundraising, running an event, or working with a committee. We have lots of different opportunities, and we welcome all to join in and have fun!

One important principle of open education is that parents and guardians are active participants in their children’s education, and are thus integral to the Ann Arbor Open environment. Our school is a community of students, teachers and parents working together and sharing ideas.

Parents at AAO are expected to take an active role in their child’s education. AAO asks that each family give at least 10 hours of volunteer time to the school--during school hours, at an after-school activity, or from home. When every family in the school donates just 10 hours each year, our school reaps benefits equal to two full-time staff members! In return, you gain the opportunity to share in this important part of your child’s life.

We realize that there are many demands on parents’ time. This is why we offer a volunteer opportunity to fit every schedule, no matter how busy you may be! Some tasks can be accomplished at home, some tasks require just a phone call (or two), and many tasks require service during a limited time (perhaps just a few weeks of the year).

Take a look at our online Volunteer Guide for specific suggestions about how you can help. If you are uncertain what a job entails or if it will fit into your schedule, please contact the chair of that committee, the Volunteer Coordinator, or one of the Ann Arbor Open Coordinating Council (AAOCC) officers. You can also ask your child’s teacher for ideas of how you can help at the school or in the classroom.

Elected AAOCC Positions and Support Roles

The Ann Arbor Open Coordinating Council (AAOCC) is Ann Arbor Open’s Parent/Teacher/Student Organization. Meetings are held once a month and are open to all staff, parents, and students. Everyone present can vote on items raised at the meetings.

The officers of the Council include two Co-Chairs, each of whom serves for two years on alternating terms so that each year there is one new Chair and one continuing Chair. The Treasurer and Secretary are also two-year positions.

There are also long-term volunteer roles that directly support the AAOCC officers, but are not elected positions and have no term limitations. The Field Trip Contributions Coordinator collects and tracks families’ donations. The AAOCC Webmaster manages the website and updates the content of the website as requested by the Council. The PTOC Representative is a member of the Ann Arbor district-wide PTO Council on behalf of Ann Arbor Open's PTO (AAOCC).

Class Support Activities

These are volunteer roles directly related to your child’s classroom. If you are interested in volunteering for one of these jobs, please talk to your child’s teacher about how you can help.

Class Parent

The class parent usually coordinates help with class events such as field trips and parties. The class parent also provides any assistance the teacher would like with classroom fundraising and budget planning for field trips. The teacher and class parent keep in touch as they both feel is necessary.

Field Trips and Classroom Activities

You are welcome to help in your own child’s classroom or to chaperone field trips. There are also several classroom-level volunteer jobs that can be done without coming to school during the day.

Scholastic Books

Many of the K-6 classes send in several book orders during the year. This job includes distributing the order forms, preparing the order from the returned forms, and distributing the books to the students when they arrive.

Classroom Garden Beds

Volunteers are needed to help maintain the small garden beds outside many of the K-6 classrooms. This job can be done as needed. There’s a separate Gardening Club to maintain the larger school gardens and outdoor spaces.

School Specials

Specials are all the activities that occur with a teacher other than the regular classroom teacher, mainly in K-6 classrooms. Contact the specific Specials teacher to discuss any of these volunteer opportunities.

Library / Media Center

Our library is a busy place and needs help to keep the materials orderly and available to the students. Volunteers are needed on a regular basis to shelve books, cover new books, etc. No experience is necessary, and you can volunteer for even an hour at a time. Regular volunteers are appreciated during weekly library times in K-4 classrooms, to check out books so that the media specialist can focus on working with the students.


Help is needed in the art room with matting, framing, and displaying students’ works. Volunteers are needed to discuss their art-related profession, to periodically wash art room smocks, to organize the art room, and to assist students with art projects. Contact the Art instructor for more information.

Music – Vocal and Instrumental

Volunteer musicians, songwriters, grant writers, and music technology enthusiasts are needed.


Volunteers are needed to help supervise the locker rooms and pool during swim times, especially in K-2 classrooms. Talk to your child’s classroom teacher if you would like to help.

School Support Activities

School Support Activities are roles parents have traditionally performed to help Ann Arbor Open run smoothly. They are the “behind the scenes” kinds of jobs that we all depend on more than we know.

Focus Studies

In addition to assisting in the regular classrooms, parents can also lead classes with small groups of students. These 1 hour/day classes last for either one or two weeks, and are called Focus Studies. They offer students the opportunity to concentrate on a specific interest. This is a great opportunity for parents that have a particular area of expertise to share their knowledge. Volunteers who aren’t interested in running a class themselves are also needed to take attendance and assist other focus study teachers as needed.

School Garden

The School Garden group is responsible for maintaining and improving the outdoor physical environment of Ann Arbor Open. More information an be found at a2ogarden.org.

Book Room

Ann Arbor Open’s book room is separated from the school media center and houses several special collections: guided reading materials (which teachers use to help assess and improve their students’ reading levels), genre studies, author studies, science readers, and books for reading groups, to name a few. Volunteers are needed for a few minutes weekly to shelve the books after they are returned to the book room by school staff.

Lost and Found

Our Lost and Found is often overflowing, so how can you find anything in there? We have dedicated parents who come to school periodically to organize and fold or hang up the items, and to look for name labels so that the items can be returned to their owners.

Life Skills Room

We are fortunate to have kitchen space available for staff, parents and class groups to use for food preparation, storage and learning experiences for the students. Volunteers are needed to periodically check and organize the kitchen equipment and supplies.

Special Events

These are the school-wide events that we remember from year to year, and that make our school community unique.

Multicultural Fair

Classes study a specific place, culture or aspect of our world – and present an evening festival with displays and artifacts. Help is needed to organize and staff the event, which is a fundraiser for the media center. Work goes from late October through the Fair in December.

Maker’s Fair

Maker’s Fair gives students a chance to exercise their creativity through construction. Almost anything goes. Volunteers are needed for organizing and promoting the event judging, set up, and clean up. Maker’s Fair takes place along with the Science Fair in February.

Science Fair

The Science Fair, usually in February, stimulates interest in science and the scientific method, and teaches about planning and completing a project over time. Volunteers need not have a science background. Tasks include set-up, clean up, reviewing student projects, and monitoring projects at school when classrooms view them the next day.

Science Olympiad

The Science Olympiad Team needs a few creative, fun adults to help coach the kids. It’s NOT Rocket Science (well OK, there is a Water Rockets team)! Coaches work with a small group of about 4-6 children for about an hour a week after school from February until the competition in May. Coaches attend a training meeting, usually in January.

Field Day

Field Day is a half-day of outdoor activities held near the end of the school year. Great fun and good exercise. Parents are needed to assist in running the activities.

Ice Cream Social

The Ice Cream Social is a major school event in June. It includes a food sale and games for the students. This event is both a highlight of the year and a major fundraiser. The tasks of the committee include planning and organizing the event, publicity, picking up supplies, and staffing ticket tables, games and food tables on the evening of the event. Meetings are in the winter/spring.

Silent Auction and Secret Store

The Silent Auction is held every other year. In a Silent Auction year, volunteers are needed to plan the event, solicit donations from local businesses, make items for the Secret Store, coordinate with classroom auction items, do computer work, and staff the event.

AAO Music Showcase

The Music Showcase is a wonderful evening of student vocal and instrumental music performances, as well as a fundraiser to benefit the Music Department. Volunteers are needed to organize the performers and to run the audio equipment.

Staff Appreciation Week

This committee plans a week of great food and fun for the staff, usually in the spring. Activities include a Breakfast, Luncheon, Pie Day, Massage Day, and Book Swap. Help is needed to make or purchase food, and to set up and clean up for each event.

Disabilities Awareness Workshop

This hands-on, activity-based program includes activities centered on an empathetic understanding of physical, speech, hearing, vision and learning impairments. The activities in the workshop are both fun and challenging and include a wheelchair obstacle course, glasses that give temporary vision impairment, experience speaking with an electric larynx and experience with simulated reading disabilities. The goal is for the students to learn through hands-on experience that people should be respected no matter how they may look, act, walk, talk, or learn.

Girls on the Run

This is a 10-week program, usually in the spring, when coaches meet with girls in grades 3-8 for discussions, activities, and running. A site coordinator is needed to manage the program and coaches are needed for practice two days a week after school.

YORK Film Festival

Several years ago a sixth grader started the Yearly Open Review of films by Kids—and students still do a lot of the work on the festival. They need help from parents to guide the process as they put on one of Ann Arbor Open’s great end-of-year events.

School Development

These volunteering opportunities are about welcoming new people into our community and sharing insights about open education.

Open House

An Open House is held in January or February for prospective parents and members of the community. Volunteers meet with prospective parents during the event.

New Family Orientation

Volunteers are needed to help organize orientation activities, such as summer playdates for incoming students, and the welcome picnic during the first week of school.

Parent-To-Parent Mentoring Program

New Ann Arbor Open families are assigned a Mentor who calls them and offers help with general questions and beginning of the school year concerns.

Ann Arbor Open Weekend Conference

If you are a parent or educator who shares the same interest in the Open School philosophy as so many of us, then helping with this conference is a MUST! Enjoy Guest Speakers, games, music and informal conversation in a relaxed setting.

Finance and Fundraising

Ann Arbor Open has various fundraising activities each year that make possible many of the special activities our students enjoy. The AAOCC approves school-wide fundraisers.

Finance and Fundraising Committee

The Finance and Fundraising Committee manages all the AAOCC spending that supplements school programs. This committee plans the budget for the AAOCC, oversees school-wide fundraisers, manages allocation of funds to school needs, and sets financial policy and procedures. The committee meets monthly and any parent, student, or staff member may attend.

Scrip Program

The Scrip program allows families to contribute financially to the school without taking it from our family budgets. Parents purchase scrip gift cards, on which the school receives a percentage from the retail company. Volunteer tasks involving scrip include publicity, taking orders, purchasing and delivering scrip, and tracking allocation of profits to specific classroom or programs.

Ann Arbor Open Clothing / Spirit Wear

T-shirts and sweatshirts with the school name and an original design are sold one or two times each year. Volunteers are needed to help select designs, take and process orders, and deliver the shirts.

PTO Thrift Shop

The PTO Thrift Shop provides donations to schools based on a program called “Show Your Support.” Schools make posters which are displayed in the PTO Thrift Shop. Shoppers receive tokens after a purchase which can be used to vote for the school of their choice. Donations are allocated based on the weekly vote results. A volunteer liaison from Ann Arbor Open works with the thrift shop to facilitate this process for our school.


Parents can turn their children’s artwork into meaningful gifts and at the same earn some revenue for the school. Artwork is created in the classroom or at home, and families can then purchase products featuring the art. Proceeds from this fundraiser go to the Art Department and the General AAOCC Fund. Volunteers are needed to collect order forms and to distribute the orders.

Other Fundraisers

Some fundraisers last for a few years, and then are replaced by new ideas. Ideas come from outside companies that approach the school and from parents or staff members. Volunteers are needed to come up with new fundraiser ideas, to develop those ideas into firm plans and budgets, and to run the events. If you have a great idea, let us know! Here are some recent and ongoing fundraisers:

• PlanetWise Swim Bags

• Box Tops For Education

• Fun Run

• Mabel’s Labels

• Restaurant Night