Giving Back: Back to school

School is back in session, and that means the Asheville City Schools Foundation has an immediate need for volunteers. Julia Shuster, director of volunteer training and outreach programs, tells us about the volunteering opportunities at ACSF. 

Mountain Xpress: Tell us about the work of ACSF volunteers. What are some of the tasks they are responsible for?

Shuster: Volunteers fill many different roles at ACSF. They are needed as teacher assistants, math tutors, literacy coaches, ESL tutors, mentors to middle or high school students, classroom helpers, garden workers and for many ongoing and one-time projects. We also need volunteers to facilitate or assist with Asheville Middle School’s afterschool program, In Real Life.

For folks who aren’t interested in teaching or mentoring, are there others tasks they can help with?

There are many “behind the scenes” roles volunteers can fill. Most schools have ongoing and one-day projects to pitch in on such as proctors for exams or administrative assistance in the office. The foundation itself also needs volunteer photographers, data managers and workers for special events such as Celebration of Champions, our volunteer recognition event.

What are the requirements for being a volunteer?

If a volunteer is going to be working with children, they must submit to be a background check. It is recommended when tutoring math or literacy, and for mentoring, that volunteers participate in a training provided by ACSF within the first month of starting. This training is provided on a regular schedule during the school year.

Can you share a particular success story that has come from the program? 

Kern Parker is certainly a champion to public education and a superstar volunteer on many accounts. Since 2006, he has been active as a math tutor at Asheville Middle School and a leader of Math Counts. He has given over 10,000 hours of his time to ensure the success of our students and is certainly beloved. There is even a Kern Parker Fan Club on Facebook. To understand what makes Kern so important to Asheville City Schools and ACSF, view his video and other videos of our Champions at

For more information or to volunteer with ACSF, contact Shuster at or call 350-6135.


About Carrie Eidson
Multimedia journalist and Green Scene editor at Mountain Xpress. Part-time Twitterer @mxenv but also reachable at Follow me @carrieeidson

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