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Campus VIPs

They Volunteered To Help At School...and Stayed!

You Too Can Be A Campus V.I.P.

We Love Our Parents - Part 1 of a Series

In Long Beach, many parents regularly visit their kids’ schools as Volunteers in the Public Schools, i.e. “V.I.P.S.”, or the “V.I.P.” program.

Consider the stories of two parents who began at Hamilton as V.I.P.s, then later became valued and trusted staff members!  The V.I.P.s in question are are Gloria Zamora and Krista Dascenzo, now both school recreation aides. 

But what is a V.I.P.?    V.I.P.s are volunteers who pass an annual medical and background check, and who then receive a badge allowing them to work for the year in a school of their choice.   VIPs contribute in areas such as mentoring, tutoring, fundraising, career education, enrichment programs, extracurricular and service activities, and office and classroom assistance.

Gloria Zamora came to Hamilton as a V.I.P. 13 years ago, when her eldest son Kevin, then a tiny, skinny 6th grader, said another boy was bullying him.   Standing back to watch, Mrs. Zamora saw it was true.  Another boy WAS bullying Kevin.

Hamilton Parent / Campus Recreation Aide Gloria Zamora

Ms. Zamora

Gloria made a choice.   She could come to school with Kevin every day—she had the time—to get to know his teachers, and keep an eye on her son.  She explained these concerns to Cynthia Terry, then School Principal (now retired).  Ms. Terry said that, with the permission of Kevin’s teachers, Mrs. Zamora was welcome to sit in on his classes, and that as a Volunteer in the Public Schools, or “V.I.P.”, she could also help out in various other areas of the campus.

Mrs. Zamora decided to do the required medical and background checks and become a V.I.P. at Hamilton.   It was a decision that bore immediate fruit.  She quickly discovered that Kevin’s teachers were truly grateful for her help making copies, putting up bulletin boards, checking homework, and so on.  Not only that, but as both visitor and helper, she could see that students stayed on task better, used better language, and generally showed better classroom behavior when there was a second adult in the room.

A meeting with the school counselor and the bully was all that it took to solve Kevin’s problem, but Gloria remained on campus.  So, when daughter Amy came to Hamilton, Amy had no reservations.  Whatever happened, Mom would be there.   Then when Gloria’s youngest son, Bryan, came along, he found himself tempted to fight other boys.  But he told his Mom:  “I feel like punching them, but I won’t do it, because everyone will think you have bad kids.”

Over time, Gloria became a trusted and familiar presence on campus.  At that point, administrators were happy to offer her a job as a campus aide, ensuring that students practiced safe behavior, had proper clothes to wear to school, and so on. 

 “When you get to know the teachers,” said Mrs. Zamora,  “you can help your kids with homework better.  When you get to know the other kids, you can counsel your own kids on how to cope better.  I am very glad I decided to volunteer.  And I’m proud now to be a Hamilton staff member.”

Krista Dascenzo, a Hamilton parent and resident of Long Beach for many years, has worked at Hamilton for the last four.   Two of her four children graduated as Wolverines: daughter Courtney, now 20, and son Raymond, now 16.

Hamilton Parent / Campus Recreation Aide Krista Dascenzo

Mrs Dascenzo

Krista became a V.I.P. when daughter Courtney was in the 5th grade at Grant Elementary School, helping Courtney’s teacher, Ms. Denhart, in the classroom.  When Courtney graduated to 6th grade, Krista followed her to Bancroft Middle School.  And finally, when Courtney moved to 7th grade, Krista followed her to Hamilton.

“I was a little nervous about Hamilton,” said Mrs. Dascenzo.   “I just wanted to be sure Courtney and Raymond would be safe.”  

Noticing other parents helping on campus, Krista asked Assistant Principal Marie Hatwan if Hamilton needed a recreation assistant.  Ms. Hatwan said, “I’m glad you asked!  I may have a spot for you.”  And so it was that Krista came to work at Hamilton, filling two roles, as both a housewife and middle-school recreation aide.

Mrs. Dascenzo said, “I, too, encourage parents to become involved at school as much as possible.  It pays off.  The kids like it—I know mine did.  I asked them if it bothered them for me to be so involved at school.   They said ‘No!  We like it!’ …  As for me, I basically got ‘addicted’ to being in the classroom environment, helping with outside activities, getting to know and becoming friends with the staff.  It has been a great experience.”

Like Mrs. Zamora and Mrs. Dascenzo, you can help your student’s teachers, bolster your child’s education, and contribute a valuable service to the campus.  For details, please visit the LBUSD VIPS website.  Or, talk to Ms. Zamora or Ms. Flores in our main office, (562) 602-0302.  We look forward to hearing from you.