Sarah Klein began working in the school program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in April of 2014. Shortly after she began work, an opportunity arose for her to begin supervising volunteers. The school program volunteers serve as tutors who help current students with homework and provide enriching activities in science, technology, engineering, math and English as a second language. A few volunteers even specialize in an area such as higher-level math and science or a foreign language. The volunteers also help patients stay on track with curriculum from their home school.
Before the launch of the pilot program, Sarah explained that she had no idea what to expect. “I was still fairly new on campus, so I have been learning right along with our volunteers,” she said.
Even in the beginning stages of the program, the benefits of adding volunteers were prevalent. “Before our students come to St. Jude, school is their full time job,” Sarah explained. “When they become a patient here, so many aspects of their lives change, and our volunteers are able to help us provide a sense of normalcy and hope for the future. When a student is able to keep up with their studies while they are a patient here, it gives them hope for returning home healthy and going back to their classmates.”
Volunteers fulfill a need while highlighting the St. Jude mission. “Supervising volunteers has given me the opportunity to help address a need in our program,” Sarah said. “It’s wonderful to work at a place and in a department that lets me have the opportunity to try new things and make changes for the betterment of our students. Being a volunteer supervisor has reiterated the concept of patient-centered care we strive for across campus.”
Sarah even mentioned how surprised she was when the program grew to the point where new St. Jude volunteers were specifically seeking to serve in the school program. By working with volunteers, Sarah is rewarded in many ways. “I love getting to know our volunteers,” she said. “Most of them have lots of experience in the classroom, so it’s always neat to hear their stories and get their advice.”
Outside of her time working at St. Jude, Sarah enjoys channeling her inner Joanna Gaines and working on her own “fixer upper” with her husband. She also enjoys taking her pups to the dog park and watching Chicago sports.