Odyssey’s mission is to expand the ambitions of Atlanta students and empower them on a successful journey to college and a fulfilling career. Volunteering with Odyssey provides current students in grades 8-12 the opportunity to serve low-income Atlanta-based youth and to inspire scholars for lifelong learning. Teaching, student and classroom management, art, and physical education are just a few examples of skill sets gained by student volunteers.
- Student volunteers may be from any metro-Atlanta school in rising grades 9-12.
- Volunteers should have a clear idea of Odyssey’s mission and passion to actively maintain Odyssey’s high standards for education and service to Atlanta-youth and Odyssey Scholars.
- Student volunteers must be able to carry themselves professionally and represent Odyssey in the best light.
- Student volunteers will be responsible for supporting Odyssey Scholars and teachers.
- Student volunteers are required to provide a consecutive 10-day commitment at minimum. Shifts are 4 hours, with options to volunteer as many as 8-10 hours per day. Student volunteers who fill out an application and are unable to volunteer for a minimum of 10-days may not be accepted.
- Students have reliable transportation to and from The Westminster Schools campus.
- Ability to take basic instructions, and follow and stay on schedule.
- Ability to stand/supervise outside during recess for proper student/teacher ratio and safety.
- Ability to lift 20-30 pounds.
A student volunteer will be expected to perform the following duties on a daily basis. Other assignments may be given as needed to support teachers. An orientation will be held before the first day of Odyssey and will be required of all student volunteers — new or returning.
- Sign in with the main office each morning and check for daily announcements or updates.
- Check in with classroom teacher before classes begin to ensure instructors have all materials necessary for activities and projects.
- Maintain contact with the Odyssey Scholars under your supervision including providing supervision to the restroom, nurse, office, lunch, recess, etc.
- Student volunteers are expected to stay with their assigned group for the entirety of their shift and not leave their obligations for different activities or to hang out with other student volunteers.
- Student volunteers may frequently attend field trips with their class.
- Lunch and snacks are provided to volunteers. Water bottles are highly recommended.
Students volunteering for Odyssey get an opportunity to work side-by-side with master teachers, gaining experience in every major subject, as well as the chance to develop leadership and organization skills. Sacrificing your summer vacation is a commitment few will glance over when reviewing your resume. Odyssey is happy to sign off on school or community service hours. Odyssey approves community service hours at www.MyGivingPoint.org. This excellent tool can help an individual track and verify community service hours across many organizations and will even print off a personalized professional community service resume.
Many student volunteers come back summer after summer to connect with inspiring Atlanta-based Odyssey scholars as they improve their reading, writing, and math skills. Along the way, volunteers always discover a deeply profound and inspiring story in each Odyssey Scholar as they work to support each student, and mentor for social-emotional learning. Become an Odyssey volunteer to share a truly life-changing summer.
Volunteer Frequently Asked Questions
Odyssey students—who are they?
Odyssey recruits students K-12 that tend to be low-income, high-potential academic performers. These students need our encouragement, and they will look up to you as a role-model. For this reason, relationships must be kept to a professional standard and volunteers should never be left alone in one-on-one situations with an Odyssey student. At the same time, each student should always be treated with respect and should not be looked upon as a charity-act. Odyssey students have gone through a recruitment selection process and should be viewed as fully capable.
How to be an effective volunteer
Odyssey recruits students K-12 that tend to be low-income, high-potential academic performers. These students have beat out their competition when selected to attend Odyssey. Each and every scholar has earned their right to be with us in the summer. It is important to make each scholar feel appreciated, accepted, and proud to be an Odyssey Scholar.
Odyssey especially appreciates volunteers who can interact with each child by:
- Conversing with scholars using eye contact and your full attention
- Using each moment as a “teachable moment”
- Providing swift and immediate support to the instructor to ensure scholars are always provided for
- Enthusiastically greeting scholars in the morning or sending them off in the afternoon
- Encouraging each and every scholar to do their best, pay attention, and positively explore their strengths
- Sit with scholars at lunch, snack time, and appropriate project-time to encourage positive interactions with their peers and work
- Respecting the space we work in by helping to set up and clean up appropriately
- Resisting the urge to constantly be on phones or other electronic devices while in the presence of scholars
What if I need to take a day off from my Odyssey obligations?
Odyssey prefers that volunteers keep their absences null—or at least to a minimum. Your students build a connection with you, and your absence does not go unnoticed. Your students are also held to a strict absence policy and Odyssey expects volunteers to be a beacon of Odyssey rules and principals. If you must miss a day, please notify by email Carissa Engelbert as soon as possible with your name and a quick explanation. We will notify the proper parties accordingly.
How will I know about upcoming events, training, or program changes?
By checking in at the Program Director’s office, you will be notified of any last minute changes or upcoming events. Periodic emails will also be sent and will sometimes require a response.
How do volunteer schedules work?
Each volunteer will have the opportunity to communicate their preferred schedule in their volunteer applications. Based upon collective volunteer responses, Odyssey will design a schedule for each volunteer. These schedules will be divided into morning or evening shifts with an obligation to a minimum of 2-weeks (10-day) participation. Volunteers can and are encouraged to volunteer for longer increments.
Volunteers are expected to find their own transportation to campus. If a volunteer is participating in field trips, they will accompany their class on the bus. If a volunteer requires transportation provided by Odyssey, they must submit a written request to Carissa Engelbert.
To whom do I report, provide feedback, or make suggestions?
First thing in the morning, you will report to the Program Director’s office to sign-in. If you have feedback, suggestions, or concern, please direct them to Jeff Cohen or Carissa Engelbert in Odyssey’s Pressly office. Volunteers need to promptly report to their assigned instructor to get daily schedules.
To whom do I report a dispute?
Disputes should NEVER be discussed in front of an Odyssey participant. Concerns should be brought to the Program Director or Executive Director Jeff Cohen. We will thoroughly review the issue and determine or accommodate reasonable concerns.
Will Odyssey write me a recommendation or community service letter?
Yes! Odyssey is happy to help volunteers with their community service requirements. Volunteers must track their own hours, and send a request to Odyssey using the GivingPoint website. This website is an excellent tool to help track your service hours across countless organizations and will even generate a wonderfully professional “Volunteer Resume” personalized for you at any time.
If you have further questions on how volunteer service hours with Odyssey works, please email Carissa Engelbert.
How can I contribute my own special skills or gifts?
Odyssey is proud to host the “after-school” Rising 6th Grade Improv program completely run and developed by Odyssey’s amazing student volunteers. Please let us know if you have an interest in a specific subject, grade-level, or other administrative tasks. Odyssey wishes to ensure the best partnership with our volunteers and will be willing to work with you to accommodate your gifts and talents.