Inspiring Others to Action
March 29, 2013
Tom Lambert is not just a busy school volunteer; he’s also a persuasive one. He counts among his accomplishments motivating students to walk to school and even convincing a few parents to don superhero costumes and fire up the school community.
There are volunteers who like to help out behind the scenes, and then there are those who can inspire others to get up and do something. Tom Lambert is the rare volunteer who can do both. Lambert has motivated countless parents to volunteer more during his years as a parent at Kingsley Charter Elementary in Dunwoody, Ga., a suburb north of Atlanta.
“Captain Kingsley” is a prime example. Lambert is the mastermind behind the superhero mascot who has stirred up lots of excitement with his antics and captured the imagination of students and parents alike. While the identity of Captain Kingsley is a closely held secret, Lambert is the one who dreamed up the idea of a superhero appearing in videos to cheer on students and encourage families to attend school events. He writes basic scripts, shoots the videos, and edits them on his home computer.
This stay-at-home father of two recalls leaping into volunteering with a single bound the moment his son started preK. And while the boy has since moved onto middle school, Lambert is still a powerful presence at Kingsley, where his daughter remains a student. “I love doing things for the school that help make it a better place. I find it very rewarding,” he says.
He previously served as chairman of the charter council, which oversees the school’s charter and doubles as a parent group. School spirit and participation lagged at the time, so the council issued a challenge to parents to volunteer for at least twice the school’s required hours. “The idea was once we got people more involved, they’d stay more involved, and it really worked,” Lambert says. But how could they keep the momentum going? The situation was thus primed for Captain Kingsley, the school’s very own superhero, to arrive upon the scene.
Captain Kingsley and his more recently added sidekick, Princess Comet, appear in videos broadcast during morning announcements. They promote upcoming school events with a special emphasis on fitness and occasionally show up in person the day of. Students can’t seem to get enough of their capers, nor can parents who have been able to watch the duo in action on YouTube. In the videos, Captain Kingsley wears his trademark red hooded cape and wide belt emblazoned with a flaming letter K. He always sports sunglasses to maintain an aura of mystery.
Lambert’s not revealing the identities of Captain Kingsley or Princess Comet. That’s all part of the fun. One thing is certain, however—the dynamic team have done much to advance programs like Walking Wednesdays, one of Lambert’s pet projects.
Most Wednesdays you’ll find Lambert and a core group of parents shepherding students through the streets of Dunwoody and safely onto the Kingsley campus. Lambert jump-started the idea of walking to school five years ago, mainly to promote fitness but also to alleviate traffic congestion. The program proved so popular, other schools in the area were soon seeking out Lambert’s advice on how to implement it at their own facilities. He was recognized by the City of Dunwoody as the Sustainable Hero of 2012 because of his work with the schools and the Safe Routes to School program.
Lambert’s enthusiasm is contagious. It has trickled down to kids who now walk to school whether it’s Wednesday or not. It’s apparent when students and parents alike eagerly await the next installment of the adventures of Captain Kingsley and Princess Comet.
Of his volunteering efforts, Lambert has this to say: “It may sound like a cheesy cliché, but I get more out of it than I put into it. I really do.” It’s apparent to even a casual observer that Kingsley has gained much from this volunteer parent whose dedication clearly has no bounds.
Writer: June Allan Corrigan
Photo credit: Robin Nelson