More than 200 people who make the district run - the volunteers - were feted on Thursday, April 14, at the Annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon held at the UAW Hall on Ashland Avenue.

The audience was treated to a delicious lunch by Chef Les and heard stirring remarks by Dr. Romules Durant, CEO/Superintendent of Toledo Public Schools, along with Toledo Board of Education Vice President Chris Varwig and board members Stephanie Eichenberg and Polly Gerken.

The highlight of the luncheon was honoring seven Outstanding Volunteers and four Community Partners whose selfless dedication are making a difference in the lives of the district's children. Here is a little bit about those volunteers:

The first Outstanding Volunteer honored was Pariss M. Coleman, a TPS retiree who volunteers at Beverly Elementary, where his daughter is the assistant principal. He was nominated by both Darla Englehart and Beatriz C. Briones Martinez.
Darla Englehart writes, “When Mr. Coleman can’t be in the cafeteria, he will call up our classes. He opens the little one’s stuff for them and helps us collect trays and garbage. He talks to the kids and gets them to clean up their messes. He comes every day except when he is sick or has to help his brother. When a little one is down, he will buy [him or her] a treat with his own money.”
Beatriz Briones Martinez calls Mr. Coleman ‘a wonderful volunteer,’ and adds, “Mr. Coleman walks around the cafeteria [during our lunch periods] with a trash can, picking up the student trays and trash. I appreciate it a lot, and before he leaves, I remind myself to tell him thank you, which I truly mean. Mr. Coleman might not realize how much he contributes to simplifying our jobs by his actions. In addition, he spends some of his personal money in the Student-A-La-Cart Room, buying at least two students a day a treat. He doesn’t have to but he chooses to do so. This is a man who deserves acknowledgement …”
Congratulations to Pariss Coleman.

The next Outstanding Volunteer is Nancy Joy, nominated by Jack Hunter, the principal of Chase STEMM Academy. Mr. Hunter says, “I am nominating Nancy Joy for a volunteer award for her unwavering volunteerism toward the children of Chase STEMM Academy. Nancy is a weekly volunteer who comes to Chase to mentor three students. She works with them on goal planning, current schoolwork and social skills. Ms. Joy also encourages all students she interacts with to reach their goals. Ms. Joy has been instrumental in helping to foster the relationship with Owens Corning, as well as helping to build new relationships with Mercy Medical and other community organizations. She is currently spearheading a Healthy School campaign. She has solicited donations for all students to receive a school water bottle to promote drinking more water. She is working on donations for pedometers for all students. In the past, she has donated community monies she has received to benefit Chase. Chase now has a rock wall in its gym due to Ms. Joy’s generous donations. Ms. Joy is a true asset to the city of Toledo, Toledo Public Schools and Chase STEMM Academy.”
Congratulations to Nancy Joy.

The third honoree comes to us from Glendale-Feilbach Elementary. Principal Andrew Duncan writes, “Regina Molnar is an outstanding volunteer who is at Glendale-Feilbach almost every day. She coordinates our library volunteers, book fair, picture day, parent involvement nights and after school activities, as well as helps in the office. Mrs. Molnar always makes sure our students have what they need to be successful. She is a positive person and always has a smile on her face. She goes above and beyond each day for our students. We could not begin to repay her for her volunteer hours and what she does for the school and students.”

Congratulations to Regina Molnar.

Dr. Ward Barnett, principal of Jones Leadership Academy, nominated our fourth Outstanding Volunteer, Debra Kay Hill. Dr. Barnett says, “Ms. Hill has been a parent volunteer with TPS for five years and this year has been elected PTO vice president. Her continuous dedication and support of the students and staff is outstanding. We are honored to recognize all her contributions in helping us make Jones Leadership Academy TPS Proud.”
Congratulations to Debra Hill.

Principal Marsha Jackisch of Marshall Elementary nominated Sue Finck, our fifth Outstanding Volunteer, because she is an ‘indispensable asset’ who singlehandedly runs the school store and organizes and runs Marshall’s Santa Shop. Mrs. Jackisch writes, “She gathers all of the items including sweets, clothes and small toys. Students are excited to see her because they purchase Christmas items with their Marshall money for family members. Our students would not have the opportunity to purchase gifts for their family without Miss Sue. She also spends time reading to various grade levels to encourage literacy. Our students enjoy this quality time. Overall, Sue Finch is an amazing TPS Proud volunteer at Marshall. Her kind, giving nature, matched with her determination to improve the lives of our students, makes her more than a 30 year veteran to TPS, but makes her an outstanding volunteer and someone our students aspire to emulate.”
Congratulations to Sue Finck.

Denise Bartlett is our sixth Outstanding Volunteer, nominated by Raymer Elementary Principal Barbara Ferguson because of her daily devotion to the school. Ms. Ferguson writes, “She can be seen in the cafeteria at breakfast and lunch, cleaning tables and helping students. She lends a hand to teachers and students in music and art classes. In the office she helps the secretary by counting flyers, newsletters, report card envelopes, etc. She organizes items that have been donated to the school. She reads with younger students to help them with their reading skills. She also belongs to the parent group at Raymer providing assistance with their activities. Denise is an unsung hero at Raymer. She always has a smile on her face and is always willing to help. Her help is invaluable.”

Congratulations to Denise Bartlett.

Yvonne Martin Morrison, the library media specialist at Riverside Elementary, nominated Barbara Hill as our final Outstanding Volunteer because she never misses a day in the library, regardless of the weather. She says, “Every library day, Barbara rode the bus to volunteer in the library because she gave her word she would be there. Barbara genuinely cares about the value of the library being accessible to the students at Riverside. Our students have learned a great life lesson regarding the importance of dedication and loyalty because they see Ms. Hill each and every time they come to the library. And since she lives in the neighborhood, many of them know Barbara has to overcome obstacles to get there. Barbara’s commitment and perseverance have earned her recognition and a huge thank you to our star volunteer.”
Congratulations to Barbara Hill.

Our first Outstanding Community Partner honoree is Pastor Laura Bensman and St. Andrews United Methodist Church.
Lynn Pearson, director of the district’s Early Childhood Program, writes, “In spring of 2015, Pastor Laura was introduced as Crossgate’s Preschool Faith Partner. We immediately met to determine ways that the church could be involved in our program. This was a very unique situation as they are the only Preschool Faith Partner. Since our meeting, we have been blessed to work with them in so many ways.”
Ms. Pearson recounted a long list of the help, from donations of toiletries and warm clothes, to sponsoring family nights to treating teachers to Muffin Mondays. Our favorite was, “[They] volunteer at all of our family activities. This allows our teaching staff to have time with their students and families,” Ms. Pearson writes.
She concludes, “The impact that they have made on our program is unbelievable! They have allowed us to focus more on the needs of our students and families when we are able to meet face to face with them. They are truly committed to the Crossgates community and we love having them as our neighbor and faith partner.”
Congratulations to Pastor Laura Bensman and St. Andrews United Methodist Church.

Our second Community Partner is Melvin Thomas, the after school director at Old West End Academy. He was nominated by Principal Kathy Gregory, who wrote a lengthy nomination letter that included details of Mr. Thomas’s work with students, parents and school administrators as the coordinator of the Kids Unlimited after school program. Here is a sample of what he does from Mrs. Gregory: “Mr. Thomas is a man of great character and humility. He often works behind the scene to support the needs of the students. He has literally given his shirt off his back and shoes off his feet to students who were in [need], always performing these acts of kindness in private and without wanting any recognition or attention.
Mr. Thomas is a father figure to many of our students who lack that presence at home. He spends much of his personal time taking students to and from events and activities because their own parents aren’t able to do so. He teaches our young men how to conduct themselves as gentlemen. Some of his valuable lessons include but are not limited to, teaching the young men to hold the door for the ladies, how to knot a tie and the nutritional benefits of foods. These acts are not in his curriculum; however, Mr. Thomas realizes the importance of building strong relationships with the students.
Mr. Thomas is TPS Proud as he supports the vision and mission of the school district. He also volunteers with the Young Men of Excellence (YMOE) interest group and completes weekend projects with the students, providing leadership and mentorship. He ‘pays it forward’ by going above and beyond the expectations.”
Congratulations to Melvin Thomas.

Our third Community Partner honoree is Tom Volk, owner of Ohio Belting and Transmission, nominated by Karla Spangler, the district’s director of Career Preparation and Readiness, who says Mr. Volk is ‘beyond deserving’ of this award. She writes, “Tom runs a business, not only in Toledo, but also in Indianapolis, and yet finds time to support Toledo Public Schools in any capacity asked of him.
Tom serves on the Toledo Technology Advisory Committee and the Youth Career Connect Executive Steering Committee. He also serves on Dr. Durant’s Business Advisory Committee, just to name a few.
Tom is not only an expert in understanding the needs of students and staff, but he finds a way to communicate those needs to the right people to ensure that the needs are being met. Tom is a teacher, listener and doer.
Tom has a passion for public education, and has been involved with TTA since it was a program at Libbey. He brings a refreshing ‘business sense’ to the educational process, while at the same time recognizing the differences inherent in the educational system. We spend much time talking about involving businesses in our processes in order to better prepare our students for the real world. There is no better example of this than the work Tom does with the Toledo Public School System.”
Congratulations to Tom Volk.

Our last Community Partner honoree is Mr. Craig Whitaker, nominated by Michelle Coughlin of the district’s Curriculum and Fine Arts/Music Department. She writes, “Mr. Whitaker has been working with our Fine Arts and Music Department, finding and setting up donations of pianos to our district schools that do not have working pianos or pianos that are not in good working condition.
Purchasing new pianos is not something that our district can afford and this is a wonderful and generous program. This has been very helpful to our Music Department.”
Congratulations to Craig Whitaker.

Posted on April 15, 2016