Okaloosa County School District Recognizes Volunteers of the Year

The Okaloosa County School District Volunteers of the Year, Kelley Gurney, Plew Elementary School, OCSD Adult Category/Florida Outstanding 2015-2016 School Volunteer, Kendrick Rattay, Liza Jackson Preparatory School, OCSD Youth Category, and  Barbara Paladini, Elliott Point Elementary School, OCSD Senior Category, were recognized at the March 14th School Board Meeting. 

The Volunteer of the Year award recognizes the contribution to the academic achievement of our students and the assistance in helping schools create positive learning environments.  “Your commitment to serving as a school volunteer has made a significant difference in the lives on many children,” said Pam Stewart, Commissioner of Education.  Research shows that school volunteers play an integral role in enhancing achievement and school improvement. 

Kelley Gurney – Plew Elementary School – OCSD Adult Category/Florida Outstanding 2015-2016 School Volunteer

Kelly Gurney is super woman with a huge heart!  She began volunteering at Plew Elementary when her son entered school and has been actively involved for the past five years.  Kelly had a vision that all children at Plew deserved to be fed and have fitting clothing to wear to school.  As an active member of the Parent Leadership Association, she created “Panthers Helping Panthers,” a two-part service program to accomplish her vision.  

In addition to feeding and clothing students, Kelly helps out in the classroom, is a mentor, serves on Plew’s Evening of the Arts committee, and bakes for the Hospitality team.  She also creates art for Plew’s annual Read Aloud Day and helps raise money for the Media Center.  She even implements a book character costumer contest to encourage more families to attend the spring book fair.

Kelly Gurney is a doer.  Her interpersonal skills, creativity, and big heart provide her the tools to be a positive influence in the lives of students and staff.  She is willing to take on any task, from spearheading “Panthers Helping Panthers” to mentoring a struggling student.  She is a cheerleader, overcoming any obstacle that present itself.  Kelly loves children and wants to provide those children with a positive school experience.

Kendrick Rattay – Liza Jackson Preparatory School – OCSD Youth Category

Kendrick Rattay is the type of individual that was born to serve and help others.  For his 8th grade Community Project he found that there was a need at Liza Jackson for elementary tutors.  Being highly involved in scouts and service, Kendrick wanted to create a peer tutoring group at LJPS for struggling elementary students.  The tutoring club was such a success that Kendrick asked if he could continue the program while in high school.  Education needs more students volunteers like Kendrick.  He has a great rapport with all faculty and staff, always willing to go the extra distance to make sure struggling students get the help they need. 

Barbara Paladini – Elliott Point Elementary School – OCSD Senior Category

Barbara Paladini has been a volunteer at Elliott Point Elementary School for the past four years.  She volunteers in the Media Center keeping track of all the books that are in the system.  She inputs the new books that arrive at the school into the computer and makes labels for them.  She helps the media assistant with the three annual book fairs and her diligence with maintaining the books and repairing them helps the children bring up their reading by allowing them to have a good amount of books to read.  Barbara is the person who can solve any problem with the school copiers as well.  She is truly an asset to Elliott Point.