Spotlights
FACE of the Week: Sharon Loving, volunteer at Catonsville High School
As part of BCPS’ commitment to ongoing Family And Community Engagement, the “FACE of the Week” is a new, regular feature of the BCPS website that introduces you to some of the people who make BCPS special – our volunteers and PTA members.
03/02/2016

Spotlight

For Sharon Loving, it’s always been all about the kids – her kids, specifically, Jessica and Adam.

It was about them when she volunteered to work at Jessica’s pre-kindergarten cooperative and later when her daughter started at Woodbridge Elementary School. It was about them when she took on copying and newsletter duties at Sudbrook Magnet Middle School. And it was about them when she volunteered her skills at Catonsville High School, despite Jessica’s exasperated inquiry, “Are you going to follow me to high school, too?”

Jessica already knew the answer, of course. Sharon Loving has made it her mission to volunteer throughout her children’s academic careers as a way of knowing what they were learning and what assignments and projects they had. And, she notes, as a way of letting them know where they stood in her life.

“It was important for me to reflect to my kids that they are important people, even at the age of 3 and 5,” she says. “To me, (volunteering at school) is just a measure of being a responsible parent.”

There are plenty of other reasons Loving volunteers; she says she likes that her work benefits all students, not just her own. She takes pride in the sports bulletin board she designed in a common area of Catonsville High. She appreciates how important her work is to teachers. And she feels protective of the other students who wave and greet her in the school hallways.

“She has been a very involved parent who had a vested interest in not only Windsor Mill Middle School but in all Baltimore County schools,” says Debbie Phelps, director of the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools. Phelps met Loving during the boundary process for the new Windsor Mill when Phelps was principal there; Loving later volunteered to work for Phelps at the Education Foundation.

“She has a very strong work ethic, pays close attention to detail, and has very high expectations for the completed work,” Phelps said. “She’s someone you want working with you.”

Finding a balance

Volunteering also gave Loving an entree into life in Baltimore County. A native Long Islander, she moved here after marrying a Dundalk High grad in 1993. When Jessica arrived, Loving explored the challenge of finding a balance between the example of her own parents, who were “very hands-off” with her own education, and the desire she saw in many parents to “sit in the back of their child’s classrooms.”

She figured that volunteering provided that equilibrium. “(Volunteering),” she says, “was the only way I saw to be connected with my kids and what they were doing for most of the day. It gave me a good insight.”

“Sharon is one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever met,” says Dianne Eff, a paraeducator at Catonsville High who has worked closely with Loving.  “When she takes on a task, she gives it 100 percent and makes sure it’s done the best way possible. She has been involved in many of the clubs and groups here at school, and many of the students know Sharon. She’s always the first parent to volunteer to help with whatever these clubs need.

“We can count on her for whatever we might need at any given time.  She’s the best!”

 Finding a way to give back

Today, Jessica is a freshman in college and Adam is in his junior year at Catonsville High. Loving continues to work one day a week laminating papers at CHS, and she is active in church and with her home-based instructional technology job. Sharon continues striving for that balance between staying plugged in and – as the parents of many teenagers can relate to – embarrassing her children.

“Part of what I found was that many parents volunteer in elementary school because they want to be in their child’s classroom. That’s their expectation, anyway,” she says. “But that seems like a narrow focus to me. You only get a glimpse of what is happening in school.”

And then when children enter middle school, Loving says, parent participation drops off further. That continues in high school, she adds, where many parents seem to transfer their desire to support academics to athletic booster clubs.

She remains an enthusiastic supporter of high school volunteering, but says people should be realistic. “You have to be flexible,” she says. “Be committed. Be consistent, and be dependable.

“There’s so much need right now,” she adds. “You just have to look for where there is a need, and you try to fill it. It’s as simple as that.”

To learn more about volunteering in BCPS, visit http://www.bcps.org/community/volunteer_info/

For more photos, visit the BCPS Flickr site at https://www.flickr.com/photos/bcps/albums/72157665372705435.

Story and photos by Charles Herndon, specialist, BCPS Family and Community Engagement.
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