Q&A with Dave Sisbarro, Director of Volunteer Services
Middle States Director of Volunteer Services, Dave Sisbarro, joined Middle States in 2014 as the Manager of Volunteer Services and was promoted to his current role in 2019. Below, Dave answers key questions about how educators can seize on a fulfilling personal and professional opportunity by volunteering to serve on a visiting team.
1. What are you looking for in a volunteer?
Being a volunteer with MSA-CESS means you are viewed as a peer and a critical friend. We value volunteers who are perceptive, reliable, cooperative, and professional. Currently, the greatest need domestically is for elementary and middle school volunteers. We can always use support from additional volunteers at the high school level as well.
- What is the time commitment for volunteers?
Volunteers should expect to spend a maximum of three-and-a-half days on an accreditation visit. For that time, they are asked to leave behind the responsibilities of their own school and dedicate the allocated full days to the visit. Each day tends to run about the length of a school day, with a few hours in the evening dedicated to the work the team does together. Before the visit, each volunteer is expected to read the school’s Self Study to help prepare.
- Does MSA-CESS provide training? How much?
There is a 90-minute webinar that we ask all volunteers to attend before going out on a visit. Then, there is an asynchronous training module to help team members better prepare for the report-writing that happens on the visit. This takes up to 30 minutes to complete.
- What are the steps to volunteer?
We ask all schools to nominate at least one volunteer to serve on a visit. That person should email firstname.lastname@example.org to request to volunteer, and copy their head of school. Then, we will send an invitation to volunteer. When a person accepts, they are added to a team roster and will be contacted by the Team Chair to coordinate next steps.
- Does a volunteer have the opportunity to choose what school they visit?
Many times, yes. We often send an invitation to a volunteer for one school visit, but if that visit does not work for any reason, we can send other options to consider. We try to find a visit that fits in a few different ways, including the characteristics of the school, the job of the team member, the MSA-CESS protocol the school is using, and the distance to the school, assuming the visit is to take place in-person.
Volunteers have an opportunity to connect with educators locally and from other parts of the world. Many report that they not only feel good about helping a school achieve MSA-CESS accreditation, but the experience also benefits them personally and professionally.—Dave Sisbarro, MSA-CESS Director of Volunteer Services