Three individuals were honored as St. Johns County’s 2011-2012 Outstanding Volunteers of the Year at the fifth annual Volunteer Recognition Reception held at First Coast Technical College on Thursday, April 12. Cheryl Freeman, volunteer coordinator for the St. Johns County School District served as emcee and Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner announced the outstanding volunteers.
Outstanding Senior Volunteer, Cynthia Prince from PVPV/Rawlings Elementary School, introduced author Jim Trelease’s Readers Aloud Program to St. Johns County in 1987. This program brought more than 100 senior volunteer readers into classrooms weekly to read aloud to students and instill in them a love of books and reading. Prince has been reading aloud to students every week for more than 24 years.
Outstanding Adult Volunteer, Megean Naughton from Osceola Elementary School (OES), serves as the president of the OES Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) and has been instrumental in the success of such events as the Fall Festival, Family Night, Art Walk and Ice Cream Social. Due to Naughton’s efforts, every child at OES left the book fair with a book. As PTO president, she waived the membership fee and instead asked families to pledge a minimum of two hours of volunteer time to the PTO. Parent involvement has increased, and many more families are taking part in extra activities as a result of her efforts.
Outstanding Youth Volunteer, Douglas Griswold an eighth-grade student at Switzerland Point Middle School (SPMS), has displayed dedication to serving students with special needs since fifth grade at Cunningham Creek Elementary School (CCES) and was nominated for this honor by Sharon Oliver, extended day coordinator at CCES. Griswold still makes time for the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) classroom at CCES as well as using his elective class time to work with ESE students at SPMS. With patience and caring, he works with some very special students in areas such as communication and daily living skills. He plans to become a pediatric physical therapist. Recently, Griswold was named the Outstanding Youth School Volunteer for Region II by the Florida DOE, making him one of the top five youth school volunteers in the state.
These Outstanding Volunteers of the Year will be recognized at the May 15 School Board meeting.
Awards were also presented to runners-up in each category. In the Youth Category, Rachel Buff of Creekside High School, Connor Rhine of Pacetti Bay Middle School and Melissa Coggins of Bartram Trail High School were recognized for their volunteer efforts. Ali Lindenfeld of Timberlin Creek Elementary and Ashley Schaefer of Durbin Creek Elementary (DCES) were honored in the Adult Category. The Senior Category honored Karen Ann Cantona of DCES and Cheryl Manucy of Crookshank Elementary School.
In addition to the announcement of these outstanding volunteers, the school volunteer coordinators were also recognized. The 107 individuals honored at this event were just a few of the 11,816 volunteers who contributed 259,960 hours of service to district schools during the past year. This week marks National Volunteer Week, observed April 15-21.