Scott’s Story: The School’s Go-To Guy
October 21, 2013
Scott Toaz segues easily between tutoring reading and school public relations tasks, from chaperoning field trips to doing prep work for upcoming events. Once a year, he even dons a chef’s hat and cooks up a remarkable school dinner.
Schools are such swirling hubs of activity that most teachers, principals, and support staff are accustomed to wearing a lot of different hats. The best volunteers—those go-to individuals people come to rely on—have no reservations about doing the same. Scott Toaz of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School in Ionia, Mich., is that kind of volunteer. He segues easily between tutoring reading and school public relations tasks, from chaperoning field trips to doing prep work for upcoming events. Once a year, he even dons a chef’s hat and cooks up a remarkable school dinner.
When his two sons began attending preschool at Saints Peter and Paul, Toaz never guessed he’d assume such a varied role there. He and his wife liked the facility so much, they opted to continue enrolling their boys through the elementary years. As the school became more familiar, Toaz started to notice things. “And I’d think, in the back of my mind, wouldn't it be nice if someone did something about that? So as the school became more important to us, we thought there’s no reason that someone can’t be us,” he says.
To wear a lot of hats comfortably, it helps to have a number of different skill sets. Toaz has those in spades, courtesy of an eclectic professional background. Luckily for Saints Peter and Paul, his current role as a stay-at-home dad gives him the flexibility to use them. Several days a week, you’ll find him working with small groups of 1st and 2nd graders on their reading. Then he might spend a couple of hours marketing the school by designing ads for the local newspaper, putting up signs around town, or developing a newsletter for the community. While doing this he draws on his restaurant management experience because he knows how important it is to keep attracting new customers, whatever the venue.
His culinary background also came in handy when a teacher asked if he would jazz up an otherwise ho-hum menu served at the school’s annual Manners Dinner. The event is part of a 1st grade curriculum unit designed to help kids perfect their pleases and thank-yous. Toaz was happy to contribute, and now he and his wife, Lynn, along with another dedicated volunteer, prepare an eight-course feast that has included dishes like beef bourguignon. “I set the menu to expand their taste buds, stretch them without breaking them,” he says. Local dignitaries are invited to attend the Manners Dinner, upper-grade students are recruited to serve, and 1st graders get to practice newly learned table manners. This year, the event managed to garner some local press.
Other volunteer pursuits of Toaz’s include serving on the local library board. He says he makes a point of stressing to kids in his 1st and 2nd grade reading groups that reading is the key to the entire world. “I tell them if they want to learn about being a pilot or a circus performer or how to dig a ditch, it’s written down somewhere and they can do anything once they get their ticket on the reading train,” he says.
Well-rounded and versatile, it’s little surprise that is Toaz is one of those go-to volunteers. He wears his many hats with aplomb and is always willing to try on another. Always mindful that it’s a team effort, he says, “Whatever I or other volunteers do for the school is all about making sure Saints Peter and Paul has what it needs to do its job, to stay vital and be available for generations to come.” Hats off to that!
Writer: June Allan Corrigan