Monday, December 06, 2010

Congratulations to our 2010-2011 Outstanding Volunteers of the Year!

Each year the Florida Department of Education sponsors the statewide Outstanding School Volunteer Award competition.  This year Pasco schools nominated 90 volunteers for the honor, significantly more than in past years.  There were so many great nominees; the judges had a difficult time selecting the top three winners! In the end, however, after a very difficult voting process, the panel elected Shelby Thompson, Kim Clark, and Margaret Francis this school year’s Youth, Adult and Senior Volunteers of the Year, respectively. Read on for a summation of each winner's achievements.

Youth Category: Shelby Thompson, nominated by Watergrass Elementary School
Wesley Chapel High School junior, Shelby Thompson, started “volunteering” in kindergarten when her mother was a school volunteer at Sand Pine Elementary.  Over the years, Shelby has volunteered at several Pasco schools. This year she volunteers three days a week at Watergrass Elementary School with second and fifth grade classes as well as with the music classes.  Her creative academic enrichment projects are a big hit with students. For example, because the school mascot is an owl, she baked edible owl “pellets” for the students to eat, and then after had the students dissect an owl pellet.  Last year Shelby helped in the autistic classes and helped to prepare the students for the Special Olympics.  She was also instrumental in getting a trampoline donated to the school to enhance their sensory input.  Shelby volunteers in her community with the American Cancer Society, Pasco County Autism, Toys for Tots, Hospice and Unicef.  In addition to her extensive volunteer activities, she takes Honors and Advanced Placement classes and maintains a 4.21 Grade Point Average.  She is a member of the National Honor Society, President of the Interact Club and volunteers as a teacher assistant at Wesley Chapel High School and Thomas E. Weightman Middle School.  “Students and teachers love, respect and appreciate her hard work.  Shelby truly has a volunteer heart,” says Marianne Mackey-Smith, Watergrass Elementary School Volunteer Coordinator.

Adult Category: Kim Clarke, nominated by Sand Pine Elementary School
Sand Pine Elementary School (SPES) considers Kim Clarke part of the school team.  She began volunteering seven years ago when her child was in kindergarten.  Not only has she volunteered regularly in classrooms for seven years, but she has also served on the PTA Board as Hospitality Chairperson, Second Vice President, First Vice President, President, Historian and Treasurer.  She averages 20 hours a week volunteering at the school on top of a 25-hour a week part-time job.  Kim is always available for special classroom events and gladly steps up to the plate when needed.  Once she conducted an activity with children teaching them how to read and make a salsa recipe.  She made sure the class had all the supplies needed ahead of time, and when the day ended, she took the kitchen bowls and utensils home and cleaned them. Kim also leads a student book club that models not only the joy of reading, but also comprehension through the discussions she has with students about what they have read.  “Kim is always available to help wherever and whenever needed and is dedicated to helping teachers and students.  She is most deserving of this award,” reports Belinda Pope, School Volunteer Coordinator.   

Senior Category: Margaret Francis, nominated by Fox Hollow Elementary School
Eighty-nine years young, Margaret has been a vital part of Fox Hollow Elementary School’s volunteer program for 19 years. She comes to school nearly every day and each time puts in more than a full day’s worth of work.  “I’m a former PE teacher,” she says. “I like to stay active.”  She acts as a media assistant through overseeing the circulation desk, helping children find the “perfect” book, and processing and shelving books.  She tutors students and assists them with their class work and homework.  She mentors children through her frequent words of encouragement.  Finally, she coordinates special projects such as picture day, book fair and student of the month celebrations.  Her dedication, energy and dependability have greatly impacted the school and community.  “Margaret is an inspiration to all who know her. The entire school feels it is an honor to work with her.  Fox Hollow Elementary School would not be the same without Margaret,” says Marylynn Cultreri, Volunteer Coordinator.