Volunteering in Room One

Diana Patpatia volunteered in Room One all last year, encouraged by her 29-year-old daughter Sasha, herself a Room One grad. (The photo here is Diana with her daughter, taken at Step One.) Diana shared her experience with the Room One teachers and how they have served as informal mentors, inspiring her to want to help create more enriching places for children. Step One could not do the work it does without parent, grandparent, alumni, and community help, and we are grateful to Diana and our other volunteers for making classrooms here warm, welcoming learning environments.

How did you get involved with volunteering for Room One?

My daughter, Sasha, who’s a Step One grad, encouraged me to reach out. I always volunteered a lot during my daughters’ schooling and I like being involved. Even though we don’t drive by often, my family keeps Step One top of mind; it’s such a great place. Sasha knew I was thinking about getting my Early Childhood Education credential. She said, “Why don’t you volunteer in the Step One Kindergarten?”

What do you do in Room One?

I’m there for their indoor activities and go out to recess with them too. I try to be an extra pair of hands: give the teachers a break and be useful for whatever they need. The teachers are such wise and kind, decent and loving people – Steve and Zeena and Maria (who teaches Spanish) too. I try to watch and learn from them so I can contribute to the beautiful atmosphere they create.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

I’m in a place that I like to be. I just want to suck up the wonderfulness of it all – but also make a contribution. Step One is a special atmosphere, but it’s also a model. We could all be treating each other that way.

I believe that adults in a room full of children are there to protect them, to guide them. Loving and caring matter more than anything and the children who get that love at Step One will bring it with them wherever they go.

It’s been so special to me to have the mentorship from the teachers. Zeena, Steve, and Maria have been shining examples of how to be a beautiful person, especially around children. In a classroom, you can be a mirror of decency and kindness for children.

Are you going to get your ECE credential?

I will go for my credential. I have a lot of projects going on so I’m not sure when, but I want to carry that environment forward: what I’ve gathered from the Step One teachers.