Pleasantdale School mom glad to volunteer her time
Jean French of Burr Ridge has volunteered in the classrooms of her six kids for many years, including at Pleasantdale Elementary in unincorporated La Grange, where her daughter Lauren (left), 8, is in second grade. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
NAME: Jean French
BEST KNOWN AS: Lawyer, mother of six and active volunteer with Pleasantdale 107
HOME TOWN: Burr Ridge
Updated: August 6, 2012 2:17AM
With six kids and a law career, some might assume Jean French has enough on her to-do list.
But this busy Burr Ridge mom and lawyer said she wouldn’t dream of missing out on the hours she spends volunteering at Pleasantdale Elementary School each Tuesday.
“I help out first and second grade each week,” said French, whose youngest daughter, Lauren, is a member of Brent Eldridge’s second grade class.
French’s weekly contribution to the school is valuable, and far from unique, Principal Matt Vandercar said. He said nearly every Pleasantdale parent finds time to help out during the year, whether on a weekly basis or as a field trip chaperone.
“They are really one of the strengths of our school, maybe our biggest strength,” Vandercar said.
To thank them, the school hosts a volunteer appreciation breakfast at the end of each school year.
“It is our way of honoring all those who volunteer their time and talents making the school a special place,” Vandercar said. This year’s breakfast, which will include performances by the students, is June 5.
Preschoolers will provide original artwork, and the kindergartners made a banner. The rest of the students have prepared poems, readings and songs, while the teachers and staff will prepare food.
While she appreciates the gesture, French doesn’t plan to attend. It’s her day in the classroom. And there’s nowhere else she would rather be.
“I have a ball,” said French, who helps out with reading, art and whatever else the teachers ask her to do. French has helped children write letters to soldiers in Afghanistan, tie-dye T-shirts, and although she has jokingly requested no geometry projects, she’s even stepped in to help in that department.
“It’s truly a gift for me to be there,” she said.
With six children ranging in age from 25 to 8, French has been down this road before, and she knows that soon, it won’t be cool for her to be in her child’s classroom anymore.
“At this age, they love to see their parents,” said French, who encourages every parent to get involved if they can, while they can.
“This is my contribution, and although it’s a contribution, I’m the one receiving the gift,” French said.