Volunteers are Making a Difference
Volunteers serving Shenandoah County Public Schools and especially the division level Volunteers of the Year were recognized at the June meeting of the Shenandoah County School Board. (Photos are by Doug Culler.)
“Without the help of volunteers, Shenandoah County Public Schools would not be the excellent school system that we are,” said Susan Smith, who coordinates volunteer recognitions. “We have many volunteers who are able to help only a few times during the year, and we have other volunteers who come in several times a week from September through May. Our volunteers are often parents, but many times, our volunteers are community members who just want to help any way that they can. All of our volunteers are important.”
Other Board members joined Rick Koontz, Chairman of the Shenandoah County School Board, and Dr. Jeremy Raley, Superintendent of Schools, in extending their appreciation to all school volunteers.
Division level Volunteers of the Year recognized were
Elementary: W.W. Robinson PTO Board
Middle: Don Sobanko
Secondary: Joan Chapman and Bob Wymer
Student: Tyler Hinkle
WWR's PTO Board was named Elementary Level Volunteer of the Year 2015. From left:
Katie Maher (Secretary), Cyndy Walsh (President), Amber Reiley (Vice-President), and Penny Dalton(Treasurer)
Heather Loughry, first grade teacher at WW Robinson Elementary School, nominated the WWR PTO Board for the elementary level recognition in honor of the “wonderful impact they have had on our school.” Members of the PTO Board are Cyndy Walsh, President; Amber Reiley, Vice-President; Katie Maher, Secretary; and Penny Dalton, Treasurer. “The PTO has held fundraisers, fun fairs, spirit nights, and many other events to raise money for our school and to give students, parents, and staff ways to become involved,” wrote Ms. Loughry in the nomination form. “This PTO Board has helped the organization grow in our school from just one person a few years ago to many parents and teachers now being involved. They spend many countless and thankless hours making sure that the staff and students at W.W. Robinnson know that they care about us and want the best for our school. The school as a whole has been affected in a positive way as a result of the efforts put forth by these ladies,” affirmed Ms. Loughry.
Dr. Raley, Superintendent of Schools, congratulates Don Sobanko, Middle Level
Volunteer of the Year 2015. Don volunteers as a Cross Country coach and Running Club sponsor
Shelby Kline, principal at North Fork Middle School, nominated Don Sobanko for the middle level recognition. Mr. Sobanko has been a volunteer coach for North Fork Middle School’s Cross Country team for five years and a Running Club sponsor for three years. In addition, during the summer, he and his wife Valerie host open runs to prepare student athletes for the Fall Cross County season. As part of his role as a coach, Mr. Sobanko creates “effective short-term and long-term running plans” for each student. A talented photographer, Mr. Sobanko uses his expertise to create a Cross County Yearbook, a memento given to each runner during the Cross Country Team’s awards ceremony. Don Sobanko’s “hard work and dedication to NFMS student athletes goes beyond Cross Country,” said Ms. Kline. He “takes particular interest in the hard to reach students” and encourages them to run cross country or participate in the Running Club.” Mr. Sobanko hopes to channel these students’ “extra energy into running as a way to develop discipline and routine in a sometimes unstable life.”
Dr. Raley congratulates Joan Chapman (center) and Bob Wymer as Heather Miller (left)
enjoys the recognition her volunteers receive. Joan and Bob, who volunteer for the LIFE Program, are Secondary Level Volunteers of the Year 2015.
Heather Miller, who teaches the LIFE class at Central High School, nominated two of her volunteers for the secondary recognition. The LIFE (Learning Independence for Everyday) Program is a class for post-graduate, special education students from throughout Shenandoah County. Because both of these volunteers provide huge, though different, support for the students, Ms. Miller was not able to decide which volunteer to nominate for the award. The central office team who had been given the task of determining the division winners for each level agreed with Ms. Miller that both of these individuals equally deserve recognition. Thus, Joan Chapman and Bob Wymer are secondary level Volunteers of the Year.
Joan Chapman, who volunteers every Monday and Wednesday afternoon, has “brought a level of challenge to the LIFE students,” wrote Ms. Miller. This year, Joan has worked with two groups of students. She used Lego Robotics to teach programming to one group; and she taught basic computer skills including how to log-in to email and basics of Word to the second group. “Joan has helped to bring STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) into the LIFE Program and promotes problem solving and critical thinking skills for our adult learners with ASD (Autism Spectum Disorder) and intellectual disabilities,” said Ms. Miller.
Bob Wymer volunteers in the LIFE Program two full days at least twice a week. “He comes into the classroom and jumps in wherever needed on any given day,” Ms. Miller explained. He monitors student groups, helps with the classroom money and store, supervises field trips, assists students who are learning to cook and clean, and participates in the group exercise routines. The LIFE Program embraces a family atmosphere and Bob, who is 72, fits right in as “grandfather” in the classroom. The kids look up to and respect Bob and enjoy his presence. The kids call him Mr. Bob and their eyes light up when he comes into the room,” said Ms. Miller. “Bob’s impact on the LIFE Program is difficult to put into words. It is something that one has to observe.”
Tyler Hinkle smiles as he accepts Dr. Raley's congratulations on his recognition as the Student Volunteer of the Year 2015. Tyler attends Stonewall Jackson High School and volunteers as a tutor and mentor for younger students.
Tyler Hinkle was nominated for the Student Volunteer of the Year recognition by Stonewall Jackson High School principal Mike Dorman. Mr. Dorman said that he routinely gets requests from middle or elementary schools for student tutors and/or mentors. Tyler, who is a junior at Stonewall Jackson, has been Mr. Dorman’s “go to person to mentor and tutor students during and after school” for the last three years. Tyler has worked with so many students that Mr. Dorman has lost count. Tyler is also the school division’s student representative on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. “He has been diligent in representing the student voice and takes his responsibility seriously,” commented Mr. Dorman.
Congratulations to our Division Volunteers of the Year.
Thank you to all of our volunteers for all that you do to support the students and the teachers of Shenandoah County Public Schools.