School Volunteers Make A Difference

The Florida Department of Education recently announced the 2011-12 winners of the Outstanding School Volunteer Award. The Department presents this annual recognition to youth, adult and senior school volunteers who have shown exceptional dedication and meaningful commitment to quality education in Florida. Outstanding School Volunteers are selected based on the number of service hours, years of service, type of contribution and unique characteristics of services rendered. 

“I would like to thank each of these incredible individuals for their generosity, hard work and selfless dedication to Florida’s children and our public schools,” said Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson. “It is important to recognize the vital role that school volunteers play in a student’s daily life and I congratulate them on winning this prestigious award.”

The Outstanding School Volunteer Award Winners 2011-12 for Region I, which includes Okaloosa County, were:

Youth:  Kathleen Kroll, Leon High School, Leon County
Adult:  Shawna Crist, James E. Plew Elementary, Okaloosa County
Senior: Carla Davis, Gulf Breeze Elementary, Santa Rosa County

Locally, the Okaloosa County School District Volunteers of the Year were recognized at the March 12 School Board Meeting.

Shawna Crist, Okaloosa County and the State of Florida Adult Volunteer of the Year

According to Crist’s nomination form, she is a “doer.” Not only has she donated over 950 hours as a Plew volunteer in the past year, she designed and managed the campus revitalization, and along with other community volunteers, planted gardens and painted campus outbuildings – some of which exhibit her beautiful murals.

“Shawna is truly the best of the best!” said Carolyn McAllister, Principal of Plew Elementary.

Crist also spearheaded the “Dream Machine Recycle Rally” where students, teachers and parents recycled over one million items leading Plew to win 2nd place in the nation. In the media center, she works the circulation desk, helps with Accelerated Reader, and is the weekly K-2 story time volunteer, often dressing in character. She mentors and tutors at-risk students, listening to them read to improve fluency and comprehension.

Jon Seth Sammons, Crestview High School, Okaloosa County Student of the Year

Sammons is a high achiever and his positive attitude when accepting tasks clearly demonstrates his ability and desire to assume more responsibilities. According to his nomination form, Sammons plans ahead and stays on top of every project or assignment until quality results are achieved. He volunteers daily in one of his teacher’s classrooms and makes keen independent judgments and decisions required to keep the classroom running smoothly.

“Other students strive to emulate him as they follow his efficient performance as my volunteer classroom aid,” said Daniel Allison, Crestview High School’s Social Studies teacher. “He continually provides outstanding support in all assignments and is a great asset to the classroom and to the students.”

Pam Crossen, Edwins, Okaloosa County Senior Volunteer of the Year

Pam Crossen has been a volunteer at Edwins Fine & Performing Arts School since her youngest daughter was in first grade. Although she spends most of her time with 1st graders, she is willing and able to fill in where she is needed. According to Crossen’s nomination form, one of her nicest attributes is she knows what needs to be done and does it with a loving heart.

“This is her 34th year of giving her heart and soul to our school,” said Cheree Davis, Principal of Edwins Fine & Performing Arts School. “She has been there every day – start to finish – and we just love her.”

Crossen loves Edwins and says it’s the children that keep her young.

“The School District just could not do without our volunteers,” said Superintendent Dr. Alexis Tibbetts. “These volunteers are the pulse of what goes on in our schools. I can promise you students in Okaloosa County are getting a better education because of the volunteers that we have in our school.”

Tibbetts went on to say that the three individuals recognized during the March 12 School Board are representatives of the volunteers that are serving throughout the District.

“They help with academics, they help have a positive learning environment, and these three people that we are honoring tonight are just wonderful examples of what this community does,” said Tibbetts.