Douglas Griswold, an eighth-grader at Switzerland Point Middle School (SPMS), has been selected as the Outstanding Youth Volunteer of the Year for Region II by the Florida Department of Education. This honor makes Douglas one of the top five youth volunteers in the state.
In fifth grade Douglas became a teacher’s assistant at Cunningham Creek Elementary (CCE), working with children in the Exceptional Student Education (ESE) classroom. He enjoyed working with the students so much that after beginning middle school he came back to CCE after school and continued working with these children. For the last three years, he has been working with these students whose needs vary. He is dedicated to making a “heart connection” with each child to help foster a wonderful relationship and successful advancement in areas of communication and daily living skills. He also chooses to use his elective class time at SPMS working with students with special needs.
“Douglas exudes as much enthusiasm for the children he works with as they express in their faces and actions when he enters the room,” said Sharon Oliver, extended day coordinator at CCE. “His patience and determination to make a difference with the children he so dearly admires is shown on a daily basis.”
In addition to the service that Douglas humbly provides to the ESE students, he performs in the SPMS and the Mandarin Methodist Players. He serves through his youth program and youth choir at church, is a member of the National Junior Honor Society at SPMS, and has participated in Dreams Come True. On his own time, Douglas has read books and done research so that the can be even more effective with ESE students. He has also researched college information as he prepares to fulfill his life goal of working with special needs children by becoming a Pediatric Physical Therapist.
“Douglas has passionately served students having special needs in St. Johns County,” said Superintendent Joseph Joyner. “He is very deserving of this honor and an outstanding example to us all.”