Community Connection: We Heart Volunteers

Meet Deborah Harvey, who is starting her fourth year as a Go van Gogh volunteer.  We can always count on Deborah for her positive and fun attitude and for her willingness to try new things.  For example,  Deborah bravely volunteered for an unknown task during a volunteer training focused on the different ways that people learn.  Little did she know that our guest speaker was a musician, and as part of his demonstration, he taught Deborah to play a song on the guitar in a mere thirty minutes.  You can see a picture of Deborah performing below.

Deborah plays a newly-learned song at volunteer training.

Tell us a little about yourself. 

I’m a former teacher.  Most of my teaching experience is with younger elementary students.  I’m also married and have a sixteen year-old son and a twelve year-old daughter.

What motivated you to join the Go van Gogh volunteer program?

I wanted to stay in the realm of teaching once I retired.  I like the opportunity to have a whole classroom experience as opposed to one-on-one interactions with students. The subject matter among all the Go van Gogh programs is varied, which keeps things interesting for me.

Share a memorable experience from your time as a volunteer.

Just today, I visited a fourth grade classroom at J. Erik Jonsson Community School with a program about Texas art.  The children shared a lot about their vacation experiences and things that felt like Texas to them.  I really enjoyed the wide variety of responses.  One student talked about going to the beach, and another student’s family owns a ranch with longhorn cattle.

Deborah visits a fifth grade classroom at Felix Botello Elementary.

Has anything surprised you about teaching with works of art, visiting classrooms, or student responses to the programs?

At times, I’m surprised that the older children are still very engaged.  Sometimes it can be hard to find a common ground or things that interest them.  The programs are so age-appropriate that the kids get really engaged.

Outside of volunteering with Go van Gogh, how do you spend your time?

I volunteer as a board member at both of my kids’ schools, and I volunteer with Meals on Wheels.  I also like to travel; I’m going to San Francisco tomorrow for my husband’s birthday, and our family is taking a trip to Vail for Christmas.

Thanks to volunteers like Deborah, 430 classrooms throughout Dallas – approximately 8,800 students – experienced Go van Gogh programs during the 2009-2010 school year.  Request a program now for the 2010-2011 school year!

Melissa Nelson
Manager of Teaching in the Community


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