Adult Learning Center
Carr’s patience, coupled with the individualized attention and strategies provided to struggling adult readers during tutoring each week, have greatly impacted student skills and confidence. This highly qualified tutor, an ALC favorite, also helps math students in algebra and geometry.
Advanced Technology Center
This proud parent of an ATC senior spends a great deal of time speaking to prospective students and their parents about the educational, social and club opportunities available at the ATC. The school couldn’t ask for better advertising than what this year’s volunteer of the year is providing!
Alanton Elementary School
Volunteer Carlie Hurt not only serves as a member of the school’s planning council and PTA Board, but she also coordinates the Fall Festival, Breakfast with Santa, the book fair and has assisted with the holiday musical and art club. Never missing a school event, Hurt certainly exhibits the importance of education and community.
Arrowhead Elementary School
Andreia Worst tirelessly supports curriculum by coordinating numerous enrichment activities and programs for students. Dedicating more than 10 hours of service each week, she assists teachers and works with administrators to make sure that parents feel welcome and informed. At Arrowhead Elementary School, Worst is best!
Bayside Elementary School
Contributing over 25 hours of service to the school each week, this PTA President makes sure the Chili’s Game Night, fall festival and Barnes and Noble events are a huge success. Hatton’s optimistic attitude, superior organizational skills and exceptional relationships in the school and community, allow her to resolve any challenge that presents itself. She is a tremendous asset at Bayside.
Bayside High School
Karen Colna is an upbeat, engaged mom who has been instrumental in bringing new programs to Bayside High School. Whether planning Take Your Family to School Week or coordinating motivational speakers to talk about distracted driving and dating violence, Colna represents the incredible power that one person can make to better the lives of many.
Bayside Middle School
Gayle Hart is the caring parent who students quickly recognize as a supporter and advocate. Her dedication to the Olweus bullying prevention efforts and coordination of student recognition for achievement continue to positively impact all Bayside students. Hart is a beacon of hope in the neighborhood community as well where she is known to provide a hot meal or safe place to stay for those in need.
Birdneck Elementary School
Thanks to Roselyn Fredrickson, the school’s restructured guided reading room is up and running. In addition to organizing the books and labeling each with the proper Diagnostic Reading Assessment level, Fredrickson created a database and user-friendly check out process. This allows teachers to efficiently locate and check out books to support curriculum and classroom activities. When she’s not preparing materials for hands-on lessons for second graders, she can be found assisting in the production room, helping at events or planning the school’s spring book fair.
Brandon Middle School
Kathy Hellman is a mother of three, works outside the home and is the consummate volunteer! In addition to the 15 hours she dedicates each week to chairing the PTA’s Ways and Means Committee, organizing and working at the fundraising events, and the list of other ways she continually creates a positive school climate, Hellman also contributes a significant amount of time during the holidays to support Toys for Tots and volunteers at the Judeo Christian Outreach Center. Brandon is grateful for this volunteer of the year’s extraordinary efforts!
Brookwood Elementary School
This inspiring mother of four finds time to volunteer at the school three days each week to work with students in small groups and one-on-one who need extra academic support. Second-grade teacher, Victoria Quinn, says “Lacee gets students to that priceless ‘ah ha’ moment with her pleasant, nurturing attitude and the many hands-on activities she offers students during remediation.” Owning a residential cleaning service, caring for 4-year-old twins and sharing one family car doesn’t deter Sokolowski from fulfilling her volunteer schedule. She often walks to the school to meet with “her kids.”
Centerville Elementary School
Rich DeLugo is a retired VBCPS teacher and an all-time favorite at the school where students rush to greet him in the hall. In addition to the academic support he provides, DeLugo delights students with stories of his own learning and teaching experiences. It is obvious to all that his warmth and respectful rapport are contagious as students emulate his kind mannerisms in the way they treat their fellow students and staff. According to Principal Tom Chowns, “A finer example of the ideals represented by Rick DeLugo’s deep, abiding commitment to young people would be hard to find.”
Christopher Farms Elementary
Holly Virella is a mother of four who has volunteered at the school for the past 10 years. She is the PTA membership chair, assists in a kindergarten classroom every week and takes on the leadership role for big events like Grandparents’ Day and Muffins for Mom that are always a rousing success. Virella is one of the reasons why Christopher Farms is such a great school!
College Park Elementary
For the past three years, Pamela Samples has been the PTA’s Box Tops and Labels for Education coordinator. Thanks to her efforts, College Park has been the recipient of many free educational materials used in the library, during PE classes and in the classrooms. In fact, the school received more than $3,000 cash from Box Tops for Education this past year. Samples strong work ethic and commitment to community service make her a role model for students and an inspiration to her fellow volunteers. “Our Pamela is a remarkable volunteer with an enormous heart,” according to all who know her at College Park.
An 11-year volunteer, Sara Cummings exemplifies what it means to be a good citizen of the community; not only volunteering for the civic league and at her child’s middle school, but contributing between 15-20 hours each week at Cooke Elementary School as well. She can be found all over the school, fulfilling her PTA duties (she’s held every Board position through the years), helping in the front office, assisting in the cafeteria with the new salad bar, working with the afterschool program and lending a hand to help teachers prepare for lessons. Cummings’ hard work and involvement in the PTA has not only raised the bar in the planning of high-quality activities for students, but she has also built the foundation for leadership of future volunteers.
Corporate Landing Elementary
Krista Halzack has a positive spirit and is passionate about her role to assist teachers with projects in the classroom or to provide encouraging words to students struggling with math and reading.“She has been the individual this school year who enthusiastically embraces every opportunity to jump in and lend a hand,” shares Assistant Principal Ginny O’Malley. According to second-grade teacher Robin Herndon, “This faithful volunteer is worth her weight in gold at CLES!”
Corporate Landing Middle
Conrad Brinkman is a “whirlwind of energy” that can be felt at all school events. In fact, the school can’t remember a function when, now a sophomore at Ocean Lakes High School, Brinkman wasn’t in attendance. Conrad, this year’s volunteer of the year, proves “once a Jet always a Jet.” He dedicates countless hours to planning, executing and mentoring middle school students during the school’s SCA Leadership Workshop, helping teachers prepare for back to school, soliciting donations to increase PTA membership and helping at dances and in the classroom. He is truly a role model for his peers and adults to emulate.
A four-year volunteer at the school, Stacey Roach is a regular supporter of the athletic booster club; not only coordinating pasta dinners for the field hockey team, but communicating weekly with parents, players and the coach concerning practices, games, carpooling and special team events. She has also led the All-Night Graduation Committee for the past two years. Her professionalism and sincere commitment to the students at Cox is beyond reproach and her generous contributions have benefited all at the school.
Amy Simpson has dedicated 10 years of service to Creed’s students and families. She is beloved by students who seek her out for advice when they need a word of encouragement or even help tying their shoes. Parents sing Simpson’s praises and enjoy working alongside her to plan PTA movie nights, Reflection recognitions and other activities and events. Wherever there is a need, Simpson is the first to step forward to help. She is certainly one of the reasons why Creeds Elementary School is “simply the best.”
Laura Kanter is the ideal role model and inspiration for others. Laura has dedicated innumerable hours of volunteer service over the past 10 years, often committing to 20 volunteer hours each week. She balances fulltime employment as a social worker and child/adolescent therapist with serving on the JBD planning council. Kanter has held numerous PTA Board positions including two years as president, has chaired numerous committees and volunteers at all school events. “Laura is one dynamic and team-spirited volunteer who is known for her willingness to pitch in to enrich the educational experience of students,” shares Principal Lee Capwell.
Diamond Springs Elementary
Jennice Frazier volunteers more than 35 hours each week at the school. In fact, parents often mistake her for a school employee when she greets them at the security desk. Frazier can also be seen helping students in the cafeteria and library, assisting them with computer assignments and providing tutoring. Frazier is an integral part of the Diamond Springs family!
Joy Kelly dedicates more than 10 hours each week to assist the school’s running and STEM Robotics clubs. Kelly has put together instructional bags filled with materials and step by step directions to keep students on track with their circuit board assembly and is on hand to assist at weekly meetings with soldering, computer programming and team building. She is also an active motivator with running club; leading warm ups and running laps along with students and adults. Kelly always has her eye on the ultimate goal of making all students and families feel comfortable and successful in whatever task they are attempting.
First Colonial High
Thanks to her innovative leadership and genuine concern for students, Peggy Drews resurrected the PTSA scholarship program by establishing an online auction a few years ago. During the first year, five students received $1,000 awards. Since then, the program has grown exponentially. This six-year volunteer at the school has also increased the school’s PTA membership from 800 to over 1,000, helped at Homecoming and Ring Dances and assisted at sports banquets. Drews is ever-mindful of the needs of students as she readily volunteers to take on new tasks for their benefit.
Mary Pepiot is PTA President, a tireless fundraiser to support student programs and a dedicated parent volunteer. She helps at dances, chaperones class field trips and is committed to making sure that events like Breakfast with Santa and the Fall Festival run smoothly. Through Pepiot’s efforts, Citizen of the Month ceremonies are a very special recognition of students and their families. This devoted volunteer, always looking to improve everyone’s experience at Glenwood, implemented advance school supply purchases and family fun nights that have been enjoyed by all.
Great Neck Middle
President of the school’s AVID parent booster club, Mary Prendergast has dedicated a great deal of time and energy to facilitating the school’s AVID BBQ Dinner and Silent Auction. Proceeds from the event have helped to defray the cost of college field trips for students and provided for guest speakers for the past two years. Prendergast’s exceptional organizational skills come in handy for this business professional who works fulltime and has a busy travel schedule, but still manages to handle the school’s Staff Appreciation Lunches, monitors the halls during testing and is coordinating the first eighth grade celebration aboard the Spirit of Norfolk in June.
Green Run Elementary
Randal Brown radiates a warm, professional presence at the school on a daily basis. Brown can be found helping students find a book in the library or assisting staff with laminating projects. Recently, he has spent a great deal of time using his skills as a jeweler to engrave hundreds of new iPads and Kindles for student use. There is no doubt about it, Brown is a special volunteer.
Green Run High
Barbara Dilgard has been a tremendous volunteer for the NJROTC this year. By spearheading several fundraising events to support the cadets, accounting for and managing property and coordinating meals prior to competitions, she has enabled cadets to focus on their work. With supporters like Dilgard, it’s no wonder that Green Run’s NJROTC has been undefeated at competitions this year.
This “always helpful,” busy mother of two finds time to commit 15 hours each week to volunteer in the school library. When Erika Thornton isn’t shelving books or assisting students on computers, she can be found helping teachers prepare for class lessons. She even lent a hand to assemble over 300 music notebooks this year. Thornton’s volunteerism is music to the ears of Hermitage Elementary School staff and students.
Holland Elementary School
Brenda Hill helps to make reading time more enjoyable for students and staff at the school. Hill manages the school’s guided reading library, the Book Room. When she isn’t working with a struggling reader, she can be seen pulling just the right book requested by a teacher or the school’s reading specialist. Hill’s commitment to Holland Elementary School is all the more amazing when you consider that she doesn’t have a child enrolled there. In fact, she pays for her child to attend daycare while she volunteers at the elementary school.
Antoinette “Toni” Chang
Antoinette “Toni” Chang is often credited with keeping the PTA engaged at the school. She calls meetings, assists with events, handles concessions and gets everyone involved. She also works in the library each week, helping out at the circulation desk, changing seasonal displays, inventorying books and working at the annual book fair. Chang’s many contributions help to create the warm and inviting learning environment celebrated at Independence Middle School.
Indian Lakes Elementary
Serving as the PTA’s first vice president in charge of programs, Amanda Covert has done an exemplary job bringing families together by providing them with opportunities to spend quality time at Bingo Night, Trunk or Treat, Santa’s Breakfast, Family Reading Night and Family Movie Night. The attendance and response to the events have been tremendous! Covert is teaching her daughters the value of community service as well. They can often be seen volunteering at the school at their mother’s side!
Jennifer Worthley is making a positive difference at Kellam as the Booster Club president. Thanks to her skill in managing concessions, not only are refreshments available at all athletic events, but proceeds from the sales are used to fund a sports scholarship for a deserving senior. This amazing seven-year volunteer is also a fulltime teacher and co-chairs the All-Knight Grad Fest. The Kellam High School community would like to thank Jennifer for “going above and beyond to support students and creating lasting memories for our graduates.”
Kemps Landing Magnet School
Rose Delumpa can be seen before, during and after school inspiring students, helping a teacher, working on an event or answering questions about a program for fellow parents. Principal Charles Foster says, “Rose’s volunteerism has greatly enhanced school spirit and the sense of community within the Kemps Landing family, which can be challenging considering the unique demographics and academic programs we offer. She has proven herself as a true leader and a real cheerleader for the school.”
Affectionately known as “Grandma,” DiAnn Springer has made reading a positive experience for countless KES students where she has been in charge of the Accelerated Reader program for the past six years. Many consider her the “backbone in supporting literacy” and she has rallied other retired grandmothers to volunteer at the school to do the same. A lifetime PTA member since 1978 and recent President’s Honor recipient, Springer is the resident baker for monthly Super Citizen celebrations and cake walk events and attends every meeting and event at the school to fill a valuable role—infusing energy and a “can do” attitude in the Kempsville community.
Elizabeth Butler is the embodiment of dependability and dedication. Health issues haven’t kept this seven-year volunteer from contributing more than 25 hours each week at the school. She currently serves as leader on the All-Night Graduation Celebration and coordinating fundraising efforts, meeting with community groups and organizing activities with the goal of creating a safe and memorable graduation night for seniors. Butler is a great example of “Chief Pride.”
Kempsville Meadows Elementary
Jackie Kittrell is a wonderful member of a second grade class at the school. At least that’s how teacher Gina Kinert and her students feel. Kittrell is an extra set of hands in the class three days each week working with students to help them excel academically and gain self-confidence. Students often ask, “Can I work with Mrs. Kittrell first?” which is exciting for the teacher to hear. “We are grateful when parents like Jackie come along,” beams Mrs. Kinert. When Kittrell isn’t volunteering in her daughter’s classroom, she is collecting and counting Box Tops and Labels for Education, store receipts and other “coupons” that generate revenue for the PTA and enable them to earn educational equipment and supplies for the school.
Everyone at Kempsville Middle lights up when they see Diane Roscoe coming down the hall. “Grandmama Roscoe” is one of those special people who gives a unique flavor to a school. In fact, she provides many delicious flavors. She uses her culinary skills to welcome teachers back to school with a home cooked meal or invites teachers and staff to an appreciation luncheon which is a full course home cooked Southern meal. Students also enjoy her homemade barbecue available at the concession stand during sporting events. As is evident, Diane Roscoe feeds the soul and minds of students, faculty and staff at Kempsville Middle.
King’s Grant Elementary
PTA President Daphne Perkins spends two to four days each week working with students, helping staff and chairing various committees. This year, she implemented a new fundraiser that not only raised money to purchase instructional equipment for classrooms but also promoted healthy physical activities for students. Perkins is a wonderful example for others to follow, both for her excellent work ethic and genuine, caring rapport when working with all community members.
Kim Urch has “picked up the pieces” of a struggling yearbook, investing 20 hours each week to create a memento that students cherish. In fact, her artistic eye and excellent photographs of all things Kingston have earned her the nickname “Shutterfly Mom.” Urch’s enthusiasm is infectious and there is no better testament to this than the school’s support of Mammary Lane, a nonprofit group founded in 2005 to honor her sister Jill who was battling breast cancer. For the past seven consecutive years, students and staff at Kingston have helped raise more than $200,000 to fund cancer research and a scholarship program. Urch has earned numerous awards for volunteerism proving that she not only “talks the talk, but she walks the walk.”
Julie Roemer is an amazing volunteer who works diligently with each of the second grade teachers to ensure they have the materials they need to provide enriching, hands-on lessons each week. Whether she’s assembling manipulatives, creating learning games, assisting students as they design PowerPoints, helping to conduct scientific investigations or working one-on-one with students to build fluency and math computation skills, Roemer is making Landstown a better place to learn and work.
Volunteer Joven Whidbee has been at Landstown High every day for the past four years. Whidbee assists the school’s Marching Eagles and the indoor color guard. He also works closely with the pep band, organizes pep rallies for basketball games and coordinates afterschool band concessions. His focus on student success coupled with his musical guidance has helped numerous students develop their talents. Whidbee’s positive approach as a mentor to several at risk students has motivated students and instilled a strong work ethic and in the children. Well-respected among students and staff, this exemplary volunteer is positively impacting the lives of students.
Marybeth Gradel makes sure that the PTA remains front and center at Landstown Middle to support students in every way possible. From an impressive display case full of information to keep students and parents in the know, to full participation in PTA Reflections events, Gradel exemplifies the best traits anyone could ask for in a volunteer. This phenomenal volunteer is the first to step forward for activities and events at the school. Gradel is “the epitome of an involved parent dedicated to enhancing the lives of others in her community,” says Principal John Parkman.
Larkspur Middle School
Susan Corey has been instrumental in assisting the library committee at Larkspur to promote literacy for all students by sharing valuable advice and guidance from the parent’s perspective. She has not only played a significant role in organizing and running two book fairs each year at the school, but her upbeat demeanor inspires others to volunteer, as well. According to Principal Matthew Delaney, “Susan is helping us greatly to achieve our mission…to provide students with a foundation for lifelong learning to meet the challenges of tomorrow.”
Jennifer Tucker is a dedicated six-year volunteer who contributes more than 10 hours each week to helping in classrooms and spearheading the monumental task of managing volunteers who stuff nearly 800 student folders every Thursday. In addition, she also volunteers at the Food Bank in Hampton Roads and manages two separate travel soccer teams. Jennifer is committed to “paying it forward” as she and her husband have sponsored the Linkhorn Park Holiday Basket Program for the past few years. This year alone, they filled 70 baskets and provided turkeys to needy families and they also assisted with the angel tree gifts. Principal Krista Barton-Arnold says, “Mrs. Tucker’s goal is to make Linkhorn Park the best elementary school at the beach. Her contributions the past six years have helped make that dream a reality.”
An outstanding volunteer for the past three years, Kim Conklin dedicates two days each week to assisting in Lori Beard’s second grade classroom during guided reading and language arts center time. She helps students write stories and read books. “She is professional, kind, reliable and the kids love her,” Ms. Beard shares.
Victoria Briggs always has a kind word and a willingness to help wherever she is needed. This military wife and mother of three, not only rode her bike to school when the family vehicle was out of commission to complete her volunteer obligations, but she often juggles her family life by “packing up the kids” to attend and assist with every PTA and school event. Whether organizing the Citizen of the Month reception, laminating or making copies, or working one on one with students in the classroom, this longtime Lynnhaven Lion who will move on to middle school next year, will be greatly missed for her many contributions that have enhanced the lives of the students at the school.
Victoria Byng is the “Spirit Wear Queen” according to school staff. Spirit wear committee chair for the past three years, Byng has spent a great deal of time and energy researching the best looking, finest quality, most comfortable and reasonably priced school apparel available. In addition to being a source of school pride, the spirit wear helps raise money for the PTA to support student programs and activities. On the night the school honored Byng as volunteer of the year, the guest of honor was too busy to celebrate. She was helping to serve dinner to the 165 families in attendance.
Julie Ghassab helps save teachers hours of work each week. She works in three classrooms preparing word study materials and student journals, allowing teachers to spend time planning creative lessons and working with students individually. And, talk about going “above and beyond”; thanks to Ghassab’s quick thinking and calm demeanor, she was able to help a staff member during a medical emergency earlier this year.
New Castle Elementary
Cheryl Negron’s precise planning ensures PTA events like Bingo Nights and Fall Festival are huge successes! Her bright and cheery attitude and weekly assistance in the school library make staff and students gravitate to her. Negron knows every student by name and their areas of interest so helping them to find engaging books to read is a breeze.
Kristin Brown is a highly motivated parent who has cultivated warm, caring relationships with students. Spending almost 35 hours each week at the school, her actions embody the character traits and skills students need to be successful. Brown helps students see the role each person plays in creating positive environments and the power of believing in themselves. She is truly an asset to the school.
North Landing Elementary
A six-year veteran volunteer at the school, Andrea Uhler helps provide a variety of inclusion opportunities for students, encouraging them to showcase their talents during small group interest sessions offered to gifted students in grades 2-5 in the RISK Enrichment Program. She is a dynamic parent who offers affirmation and purpose while challenging students who may not easily recognize and build upon their own strengths. Uhler was recently recognized for her exhaustive efforts and contributions to education with an Excellence Award from the Virginia Department of Education.
Eren San Pedro
Ocean Lakes Elementary
Eren San Pedro is one of the school’s true gems. “She is always exploring new avenues to provide students with unique learning opportunities,” shares Principal Linda Reese. Thanks to San Pedro’s tenacity and leadership, the school was able to launch their first afterschool enrichment program in January, receiving an overwhelming 250 eager student applicants. As Reflections Chair, she created a new category specifically for students with special needs, arranged for judges and a celebratory reception.
Ocean Lakes High
Michelle Cox is known for “doing it the dolphin way;” putting her organizational skills to use to coordinate volunteers to prepare meals for more than 60 swimmers, arrange transportation and communicate and stay engaged with parents, students and staff each week. Cox does a tremendous job to assist the coaches and teams. Thanks to this dedicated Dolphin, all students can count on the support and backing needed to concentrate on competition.
Old Donation Center
Rosemary Harker assists at all grade levels, knows every ODC family by name (and even email address in many cases) and has been a die-hard Chess Club assistant for the past two years. She is a true advocate for students and families as is evident by the way she offers encouragement when it’s most needed and a hand up for those who may be going through struggling times. Everyone at the school looks for Harker’s bike in the front of the building each day because it is a sure sign that she is inside looking for ways to make things easier for teachers, parents and students.
Cassie Marshall, a Legal Studies Academy student at First Colonial High School, is dedicating her free time working with Parkway’s Panthers in Action STEP Team twice each week. She makes sure each member fully understands routines that she has choreographed and that they feel good about performing them. Marshall even spends weekends traveling to competitions and parades with the Parkway students. Her unwavering dedication and inspiration has captivated the hearts of the younger students resulting in panther pride that has exceeded all expectations.
Thirteen-year veteran volunteer Sharon Holmes assists in the library to shelve books and help students. She routinely goes out of her way to make sweet treats for the office and special gifts to recognize every occasion. Holmes is extremely customer service oriented and has developed a great rapport with students and staff. Each year, she heads up the school’s book fair and personally donates many of the books on teachers’ wish lists as well as prizes, books and stuffed animals for students. “Pembroke feels like home thanks to Sharon and there is no place like Holmes,” according to Principal Linda Hayes.
Pembroke Meadows Elementary
Although she works a fulltime job, Sharon Delaney has created a workstation in her home where she does “homework” for the school right alongside her twin boys, Jackson and Landon. Not only is she cutting out and organizing needed materials and creating various instructional resources to support student learning, but she is teaching her sons the value of community service by sharing what she terms a rewarding experience. Delaney has a unique way of meeting the students on their level, making her a very popular classroom volunteer when she works with small groups to reinforce skills taught in class.
Thanks to Amanda Wynn, students and staff at Plaza have celebrated wonderful recognition events. In addition to event planning, Wynn spends countless hours working on the month-long Bring Your Family to School initiative which is designed to help parents realize their important role in fostering student achievement. She works tirelessly to dull the lines between the students and families in the Middle Years Academy and those zoned for Plaza Middle. The first to answer a call for help, Wynn can be seen selling dance tickets, manning the Rachel’s Challenge banner during lunches and, most importantly, welcoming new families and quickly getting them involved at the school. Wynn goes above and beyond the duties of a volunteer to ensure the education of every child at Plaza is a priority!
Point O’View Elementary
A grandmother of two students in Virginia Beach schools, Neddie Gotianse has worked hand-in-hand with the PTA for the past several years to provide multicultural events that enhance learning and expose students to the traditions, language, dress and cultural beliefs of our countries worldwide. Gotianse, a retired Virginia Beach teacher, joins Deborah Darwin’s first graders on what they lovingly call “Our Mrs. Gotianse Days.” Lending her expertise to conduct guided reading and reading strategies groups, she has developed strong relationships with the students who love the additional attention and interaction with this outstanding volunteer of the year.
Princess Anne Elementary
Janine Sarach has contributed up to 20 hours each week for the past 10 years. Over the last decade, she has committed much time and energy to the school’s infamous Founder’s Day Dinner and Auction that raises approximately $10,000 for Scholarships for graduating seniors each year. In addition, she has worked diligently on the fifth grade spring event. And, for the past four years, Sarach has been responsible for photographing over 16,000 pieces of student artwork for a website for families and community members to enjoy. Uploading, editing and publishing these individual student portfolios is a monumental task. Principal Gloria Davis shares, “Janine loves children and is enthusiastic and willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure that each student receives the most from their elementary school experience.”
Princess Anne High
A devoted parent at the school for the past nine years, Robin Berns works year-round with the athletic Booster Club and can be credited with raising thousands of dollars to benefit booster club scholarships. Affectionately nicknamed “Mrs. PA,” Berns is the “team mom” every child seeks out knowing that she is not only trustworthy, but willing to do what she can to help them. Even when faced with personal challenges this year, this beloved volunteer balanced her personal commitments and continued to persevere with Op Grad activities to ensure that Princess Anne’s seniors have a memorable drug and alcohol-free post-graduation celebration to look forward to in June.
Princess Anne Middle
Knowing how difficult it can be to maintain connections between home and school at the middle school level inspired Melissa Fagan to look for ways to open those lines of communication. Fagan coordinates the school’s social media and no matter what the event, everyone who knows Fagan says, “Those pictures will be posted for all to see within five minutes!” Along with her social media tasks, she also organizes the PTA Principles of Citizenship recognitions for the school, inspiring all students to be a role model for others. They are learning from the best because there is no greater role model than Fagan herself.
Thanks to the leadership and hard work of Meredith Glenn, Providence Elementary has celebrated two years with 100% PTA Membership. Glenn has also been the “heavy lifter” when it came to ordering, packaging and distributing PTA school supplies to more than 500 excited students at the start of the school year. She can also be found volunteering in the school library, helping teachers prepare for instruction in Tuesday morning workshops, working at the book fair and monitoring the halls during testing throughout the year. Glenn’s positive, “we can do this” attitude has helped advance Providence Elementary School’s goal to inspire a greater loe of learning!
Red Mill Elementary
During his three years at Red Mill, John Brountas has attended every school event and class field trip. Brountas has been instrumental in assisting students in class one day each week where he accompanies them to the computer lab, library, cafeteria or PE. “Their eyes twinkle when they see him,” says teacher Susan Hughes. “He is truly an integral part of the Red Mill family.”
Wave City Care’s Michelle Dworske has contributed numerous hours each week at the middle and high school levels facilitating the Shine GIRL program which aims to develop each girl’s understanding of her own personal worth and strength in order to help her reach her full potential. A staff member writes, “The girls have literally blossomed like flowers due to her guidance. She has helped to forge friendly and supportive relationships between and amongst the girls that we didn’t think were possible. By focusing on their similarities, Michelle has changed the girls’ perspectives and our students (and the culture of the school) have been impacted in an incredibly positive way.” Dworske continues to attend weekly lunch meetings where she often comes in with home baked cookies and other goodies, has personally provided lunch, as well as turkey dinners and clothing to meet the needs of her ladies. Her professionalism and “definite labor of love” lift up the lives of all who know her.
Not only does Erica Prosser fulfill her duties as PTA vice president, but she has taken on the role of resident crafter. When she gets an idea, she runs with it. The result is a Breakfast with Santa to remember, a fundraiser that makes everyone want to get involved, and Family Nights that pack the house. Everything she does has a focus on children, making Rosemont Elementary School a better place to be. Staff, students and families feel lucky and can’t imagine the school without her!
Rosemont Forest Elementary
Mother of four, Leah Oberley is the lead parent for the highly popular and motivational Accelerated Reader Program at the school. Not only does she come in early in the morning to give students an opportunity to take their AR tests, but she single-handedly creates celebratory luncheons and parties to recognize student progress. “Leah Oberly has helped to grow our Rosemont Forest readers from reading to get prizes to reading because it’s fun and they love to read!” says proud parent and PTA Board Member Deb Holinger. “We all admire her and strive toward excellence to match the example she sets.”
Charleen Wright’s “ray of sunshine” and her can do attitude permeate Salem Elementary. “Her enthusiasm, focus and skills have helped Salem Elementary reignite parents to become more involved at the school,” shares Principal Janet Zitt. Beyond her role as the Volunteers in Education Coordinator, Wright is at the school daily to assist with the Girls on the Run program and organizes fundraising events and movie nights. She is champion for families that are new to Salem Elementary School and works hard to make sure parents feel connected and realize the value of volunteering to help support students and foster success.
Mom of four, Lori Taylor has worked tirelessly over the past seven years on the PTSA Project Graduation at the school. Her dependability and fundraising endeavors and exceptional networking efforts have been so successful that Salem’s student cost to attend the post-graduation celebration has been one of the lowest in the city and has had one of the highest rates of participation citywide. Principal Daniel Keever says, “It would be impossible to quantify the number of volunteer hours Lori has dedicated to Salem...her fervent resolve to make a difference in the school for our students is to be commended and celebrated! Generally, we note parents tend to become less involved in the school community as their children get older, we are happy that Ms. Taylor breaks this mold and our students and school are better because of her volunteerism.”
Kim Pollard has worked approximately 10 hours each week for the past 11 years at Salem MIddle. Although her own children have moved on to college, she continues to volunteer in the library, help in the guidance department and assist coordinators to ensure that SOL, Explore and IPT testing go smoothly. “Her wealth of knowledge in regards to testing protocols and standards is invaluable and places her in a category all her own,” says School Improvement Specialist Scott Dunn.
An Information Specialist with the Virginia Aquarium and Science Center, Christina Trapani volunteers as a mentor for the school’s Jr. Go Green Team and assists with many environmental initiatives, including the Talking Turtles Project - a worldwide educational campaign to help spread the word about the threats balloons and other trash pose to marine life. Trapani recently presented the school’s Trash Talking Turtle sculpture and informational brochure she helped students create at the Sea Turtle Symposium in Mexico. Organizing guest speakers for club members and parents at the PTA’s Environmental Night has certainly exposed students to many different careers. One of the young men at Seatack was overheard saying, “Now I know what I would like to be when I grow up—a marine biologist!”
Shelton Park Elementary
Thanks to Jennifer Barbosa’s hard work, Citizen of the Month ceremonies go off without a hitch, recognizing a student from each classroom for a specific character trait. Parents and students are not only welcomed to a lavishly decorated celebration, but each is presented with a special photo to bring home commemorating the occasion. When Barbosa is not working on these recognitions, she is spending at least 2 to 3 days at the school helping teachers to prepare word study cards, reading to students at story time and assisting with weekly student folders.
Heidi Messerole is a consummate volunteer who dedicates a 40-hour workweek at the school to not only promote a welcoming climate for students and families, but to work with fellow parents incorporating their ideas and suggestions in upcoming events and activities. Messerole often stays well past dismissal to assemble award packages, create flyers, order supplies, plan fundraisers or to make sure upcoming events are ready to go. “She is the first person to say, ‘What do you need?’ and the one to make sure that everything is done,” according to Principal Kelly Coon, who shares that Messerole’s contributions to the school “far exceed any expectation we could have.”
When unforeseen challenges left openings on the PTA Board, it was Lisa Hill who stepped up to the plate. She virtually wears every hat for the PTA, including serving as the school’s Volunteers in Education Coordinator. Visitors and parents alike can see Lisa creating bulletin board areas to ensure that communication is front and center, assisting in the cafeteria and helping students and teachers in the classroom. “Not only is she a precious gem,” says current PTA President Keith Storm, “but she is a rare find. We are all extremely lucky to have her as our voice for children.”
A former Tallwood Lion, Octavia Rinehart is now a fulltime graduate student who finds time in her extremely busy schedule to work with the boys’ and girls’ cross country and track and field teams at the school. Rinehart is present at practice every day and attends weekend meets with the team. She works closely with coaches and athletes to provide sound advice on technique, conditioning and academics. She also brings with her some of the newest knowledge and research-based training methods from the university setting. According to Tallwood’s head coach Caitlin Riley Stravino, “She has made me a better coach and pushed me to refine my training program to help my student athletes, perhaps what impresses me the most is that Octavia has already recognized at such a young age the importance of giving back to the community from which she came.” This dedicated volunteer models the lifelong love of running and the importance of a healthy lifestyle before, during and after practice.
Dr. Alvin “Andy” Anderson and Barbara “Bobbi” Anderson
Technical and Career Education Center
Retired educator Dr. Alvin “Andy” Anderson and Barbara “Bobbi” Anderson are a dedicated couple and have helped reorganize the nursing department at TCE to run more efficiently by helping to prepare the school’s Nursing Faculty Handbook, Student Handbook and Nursing Catalog. They have been known to spend many nights (sometimes up till 1 a.m.) making sure all documents are ready for nursing site evaluations to meet accreditation requirements. Nursing Director Rosa Abbott emphasizes, “The Accreditation status is of extreme importance as it allows the school to maintain federal funding and therefore offer Pell Grant funds to nursing students. I believe we were successful in the accreditation review due in a large part to the untiring work and dedication of these two individuals. We will be forever grateful to them.”
Returning to her alma mater, where she herself was a fifth-grader, Rose Busetti helped to mentor a first-grader last year from Romania who only recognized 24 English words in September. After working with Busetti for three hours each week, the student was reading English fluently on a second grade level by the end of the year. Busetti provides the same TLC this year for the Extended Day Kindergarten students she helps to write their names, count to 100, learn the letters and sounds of the alphabet and practice numbers and math skills. She often joins the children for lunch and her humor and caring nature help her to reach the most challenging child. Having no children of her own, Busetti gives generously of her time and talents to help the children of her neighborhood feel successful and valued. Says Principal Pamela Pastros, “Every school should have a Rose Busetti to call their own!”
Heidi Brown thoroughly understands the impact that parent participation can have at a school. Brown has been the afterschool clubs and activities leader at the school for the past two years. Fully committed to offering something of interest to everyone, she spends well over 10 hours each week researching, recruiting, scheduling and supervising a host of afterschool groups. From foreign languages to Zumba; martial arts to fine arts, there is most likely at least one perfect match for the 700 students in grades K-5. “It’s an amazing feat to manage over 30 clubs each year and still be able to assist in her children’s classrooms each week and elsewhere as needed in the building. The countless hours she spends cannot be compared with the footprint she has left on our school—her smile and spirit permeate our building,” beams Principal Cheryl Zigrang.
Three Oaks Elementary
Kristine Snow had already dedicated more than 200 volunteer hours by January of this year. Whether in the classroom helping students in centers and supporting class projects, making sure that the monthly newsletter goes out on time, or assisting with other clerical or PTA duties, Snow has a smile on her face and never seems to run out of energy. She is also the “go to lady” for any need having to do with Mad Science, as she has coordinated and grown the program at the school for the past several years.
Mother of four and former Trantwood student herself, Julie Dugas bikes over five miles to the school to be able to support PTA activities such as Dad’s Breakfast, Grandparents’ Luncheon and the Variety Show. Nothing ever seems to be a problem for this PTA vice president. She has previously been recognized for her leadership and presented with an Award of Distinction and PTA Lifetime Achievement Award. Dugas regularly assists the Trantwood Troupers theater group with costumes, props, set design and is often seen at rehearsals running lines with students to practice their parts. As one staff member puts it, “This is one mom who is a mover and a shaker and she gives so much to make our school a better place!”
Virginia Beach Middle
According to school principal Sandra Brown, “Amy Beach takes every opportunity to get involved with the student body, staff and community and is the perfect Hospitality Chair and Beautification Committee Chair.” Beach has made it a “family affair” as she has worked during the week and on weekends with her mom, a master gardener, to redesign the main entrance to the building. Lush green foliage and gold flowers make a welcoming; proud statement for the visitors and Seahawks alike. As a chaperone on field trips, a member of the booster club and PTA Board, Beach attends every school event and helps to create an atmosphere where the entire community is consistently working toward one goal—helping VBMS students thrive in a caring, nurturing environment!
White Oaks Elementary
Conscientious, professional and committed to providing opportunities to involve parents in their children’s education, Maria Floyd often works into the evening and long weekends. Serving as first vice president of the PTA for the past two years, this Coast Guard officer’s wife kicked off the school year with the school’s first Back to School Bash—welcoming nearly 500 students and parents to a fun-filled evening on the campus lawn. Floyd approached this year’s annual book fair in an extraordinary way; creating a “Story Laboratory” in the cafeteria for the weeklong event that had everyone talking books, books and books! Thanks to her unique approach and to the delight of students, the PTA was able to donate an impressive 100 new titles to the library. Logging in more than 100 volunteer hours some months, Floyd not only assists fellow parents and teachers in the workroom, fixes equipment and coordinates PTA and school events and activities; she is the model of an exemplary school ambassador.
“Larry Ellis is like a father figure to students at the school,” says guidance counselor Delphina Malone. “They just love him and he is certainly a beacon of light in our building.” Teachers know that they can count on Ellis to provide an extra pair of hands to assist students one on one or in small groups. He not only responds to any requests for help with a resounding “yes” but takes the initiative to file papers or check on a student that has been absent or may need some extra encouragement. Williams Elementary School feels lucky to have such an outstanding community member as part of the Eagle family.
Windsor Oaks Elementary
Thanks to Michele McKeldin, first- and fifth-grade students have overcome significant deficiencies in math and reading. McKeldin, an extremely thorough and engaging volunteer, dedicates two full days at the school each week to provide needed one-on-one tutoring to help students practice skills. She has been able to make a special connection with some students that may not always respond well to assistance. Their growth is very apparent not only in their grades, but in their confidence and ability to pass their SOLs.
Windsor Woods Elementary
Jennifer Blais is a remarkable woman and shining example of an exemplary volunteer. Not only has she served as the PTA President for the past two years, she has also been tasked with developing and updating the school’s activity calendar to keep parents, students and staff aware of important and fun school events and activities. In addition, she has organized the Mad Science afterschool enrichment program and spent a lot of time reading with students to instill a love for books. Principal Drummond Ball says, “Mrs. Blais’s calm and intelligent approach and clear thinking has a way of guiding others toward success to provide the best for our children.”
A devoted parent and one of the division’s Partners in Education, Brandi Heying-Ziemba contributes more than 20 hours each week helping Woodstock Elementary support student success. Heying-Ziemba works with small groups of first graders weekly, helps to promote literacy events and even organized a field trip to her family restaurant to help students understand the importance of business and economics. Attending every Destination Imagination practice session, donating t-shirts and snacks, as well as creating “challenges” allowing students to prepare for competition, she helped the team win regionals and advance to state competition. “Mrs. Ziemba has a genuine passion for creating an educational environment where children (and teachers) feel supported and loved,” shares second-grade teacher Kristen Tayon. Woodstock Elementary School staff is grateful to Brandi Ziemba for the innovative, meaningful experiences provided by this outstanding member of the Woodstock family!