Volunteer Recognition 2015-16

Volunteer Recognition 2015-16 - Print Version click here


Arthur Elementary - Leanne Swanson

Leanna goes above and beyond with a variety of volunteer efforts at Arthur. She contributes to classroom learning by assisting students in completing their desk work and working on fourth grade skills. She is extremely reliable and always has a smile on her face and a helping hand ready for students. Leanna has also attended the annual two-day Camp Wapsie community building field trip where she was in charge of the craft station, assisted with the hearing test van - ushering students safely to and from the van, and Hy-Vee receipts for the Cash 4 Students program. The Arthur community is enriched by her graciousness and generosity.  


Cleveland Elementary - Pat Parker 

Pat joined the Cleveland school community when her granddaughter started kindergarten.  She has been helping in the head sprout program all year, visiting the school daily to work with the students. She is masterful at keeping them on task and does it with a friendly smile, a soft voice, and obvious respect for the students.  She also helps with classroom parties and special PE activities such as gymnastics. Pat has also put her creative talents to work for Cleveland, creating give-away items that teachers can share with students as learning inspirations. Pat is quick to express her joy for volunteering…but the Cleveland staff and students are the lucky ones for having her there.  


Coolidge Elementary - Margaret O'Banion

Margaret has held such titles as chief costume seamstress, prop maker, and set builder for Cleveland’s music programs. She also takes hundreds of photographs of school events each year – documenting building celebrations and events and helping the school fill its website and newsletter with active images of community happenings and providing professional visuals for PBIS posters and other curriculum pieces. Everyone is positively influenced when they see themselves in one of Margaret’s pictures. Even after her retirement as an elementary school counselor, the needs of the students remains her passion! She continues to go above and beyond. 


Erskine Elementary - Dena Aretz-Burian

Dena is a wonderful asset to Erskine. Students and staff can depend on her help. In the kindergarten classroom she works each week with a small group on math skills. No matter the project, Dena is always prepared to assist or take the initiative to complete a task without even being asked. She single-handedly manned the America Reads table last fall, greeting, distributing name tags, and directing readers to specific classrooms. When the second grader’s Immigration Simulation was in need of a Statue of Liberty, she took on the role. Through PTA, she has handled Box Tops, Labels for Education, and Hy-Vee receipts. Her positive attitude and frequent presence help encourage students and builds a sense of family at Erskine. 


Garfield Elementary - Amy Hautt

Amy launched the “Book Cart” program at Garfield, securing the grants and donations needed to fund it. She now runs it daily with the help of other volunteers, promoting the value of daily reading to all students.  Amy is also the PTA treasurer, a regular classroom and field trip volunteer, and a room parent for parties. Additionally, she participates in the Parent Involvement Committee which meets monthly to plan family activities. From PTA support to the classroom, Amy is always willing to help, bringing a positive attitude and with a smile on her face! 


Grant Elementary - Mindy Bedel

Mindy works in small groups and one-on-one with students from many grades. She is a Page Pal with Kids on Course, helps kindergarteners with learning sounds, words and reading skills, coordinates a ‘take home’ reading program for first graders, and works with 5th grade students on dictionary and computer skills. When she helps in the library, students are excited for the opportunity to work with her. She is flexible with her schedule, positive, and always smiling. Mindy is a great asset to the Grant community.  


Grant Wood Elementary - Linda Norton

The opportunity to continue sharing her passion for education at the school where she had spent over half her life as a teacher, is what motivates Linda Norton as a volunteer. Linda formed and led a committee celebrating the 125th birthday of Iowa artist Grant Wood. Events included education about the artist, an “American Gothic” look-a-like contest, and field trips to 5 Turner Alley and the Veterans Memorial Building. Linda also spends time assisting with small groups and individual students where she inspires them to be life-long learners and good citizens. Her motto is ‘Never give up!’ Her quest to build the school’s library book collection, plan family events, and share her knowledge and time with everyone she encounters, has left an imprint on all. 


Harrison Elementary - Rachel Baugh

Rachel offers her help with grading at home, volunteers to read for America Reads Day, attends field trips, helps get supplies, and sets up and supervises class projects. She also spends time at the end of the school day to help with dismissal, helps with PTA events for both students and families, and assists with whole-school celebrations. She knows students by name, can identify parents (and their cars from dismissal drive-up) and goes out of her way to help teachers.  She even leaves them little goodies. She also helps every week with our “Operation Backpacks”. Rachel is always there when you need her even on short notice.



Hiawatha Elementary - Jennifer Fenoglio

Jennifer supports staff by making copies, laminating, sorting books, checking planners, and reading in classrooms while teachers work one-on-one or in small groups with students needing extra attention. She greets students in the morning as they line up outside before school and helps maintain order during the lunch and recess periods. Jennifer is at school every day, and there is nothing she won’t help out with. She also attends every all-school event, and generally brings her husband and children along – arriving early to set up and staying late to tear down. Her whole family sets an example of volunteerism for the school community.


Hoover Elementary - Michele Kelly

Michele reads one-on-one with students from all grade levels and in the ELL program. She gives the students the extra help with reading that the teachers feel would benefit them, and students also benefit from meeting with the same volunteer on a regular basis. When she isn’t working with students, she’s helping in the school library where she shelves and straightens book shelves to help students and teachers locate books in a timely manner. Michele is always very positive and patient in the school and with students. She is always prepared and she is always willing to help.  Her enthusiasm is contagious and sets the stage for excitement for learning.


Jackson Elementary - Ginny Kneisel

Ginny has two grandchildren attending Jackson. She helps, however, in several classrooms.  She is ready, willing and quickly jumps into any activity you ask her to do. Ginny helps classroom teachers on a daily basis by sorting folders, filling book bags, correcting assignments, and working with students. You may also see her helping with field trips, setting up picture displays in the hall, or even folding clothes in the lost and found area. She takes pride in Jackson as she picks up items in the hall, or helps sort lost and found. She even offers to take work home with her! Her dedication and service goes above and beyond!


Johnson STEAM Academy - Sue Millar

Sue is one busy volunteer at JSA! She serves as an instructor for the before and after school enrichment program; manages the School Store, mentoring students in running the school store and teaching them basic beginning business skills; assists on study trips and with performances; has served as PTA president, fund-raising chair, and membership chair; spearheaded several successful PTA fundraising events for the school; coordinated PTA family events from Blues & BBQ, to Harvest Hoopla, to Book Fairs, to Winter Dances, to Talent Shows; and volunteered her own skills to repair broken music instruments (at no charge), also loaning instruments for student lessons. Sue continuously advocates for JSA students and promotes the positive accomplishments of the school throughout the community.


Kenwood Elementary - Victoria Fernandez

Victoria approached the Kenwood PTA three years ago to suggest a garden at the school.  Once it was approved, she received a grant from Soilmates and a mini grant from Hy-Vee. The Linn County Master Gardeners adopted this project. Since she is a Master Gardener herself, she has done an excellent job teaching the students several different things about how to grow vegetables and which flowers are edible. She encourages teachers to use the garden for outside classroom lessons. This summer, she is hoping to identify volunteers to help with the project and to teach cooking lessons using produce from the garden. She has been a very positive leader and role model for students, staff, and the school community.


Madison Elementary - Nicole Everhart

Nicole has provided engaging and positive after school math and literacy support for several students. At each session, she reads aloud, engages students in math games to practice their facts, asks questions and helps them to solve story problems, and fosters their own love for reading through small chapter book reading time. Participating students know her by name and often greet her with hugs. Her dedication to volunteering at Madison went beyond her daily group when she helped to organize a Jefferson J-Hawk Volunteer group. This year, Madison’s afterschool program served 15 additional students because of the organization of this J-Hawk volunteer group.   


Nixon Elementary - Kurt Noack, Outstanding District Volunteer

Kurt is an essential part of the Nixon school community. He volunteers every day for as many as 7 hours. He listens, interacts, and challenges students as they read. He keeps them focused as they take reading counts tests. He plays math games. He is a lunch buddy. He helps them grow as readers and develop a positive self-image about themselves.  Kurt is a positive male role model for students, especially those who don’t have such a role model at home. He encourages students in their academic growth and challenges them to raise their standards of behavior. He treats every student with dignity and respect. He shares his time and talents as if he is a Grandparent to each student and a friend to each staff member.   Video of Kurt in action at Nixon. 


Pierce Elementary - Brooke Baker

Brooke is an amazing supporter of literacy, helping to run multiple book fairs in the IMC and organizing America Reads Day. She always steps up to help provide food for parent teacher conferences and she supports the school store on Friday mornings. Brooke is the kind of volunteer whose impact reaches far and wide.  She has served as secretary of the Pierce PTA this year and she will be moving into the office of President next year. She supports students and staff across the building by coordinating volunteers for the roller skating unit and field day. She is regarded as a person who, “Goes above and beyond” to support the Pierce community.  


Taylor Elementary - Judy Amsler

You can generally find Judy in the south kitchen preparing healthy snack for students. She volunteers her time each week preparing all the fresh fruits and vegetables from the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. She preps the fresh fruit and vegetables in the appropriate quantities for consumption to be delivered to classrooms daily.  She makes it possible for students to have a healthy snack every day. Students look forward to receiving their healthy snack each day – and (sometimes) the opportunity to try something new. They also enjoy the positive uplifting notes Judy posts on the packaged fresh fruits or vegetables. Judy is an inspiration.     


Truman Elementary - Alice Murray

Alice is a champion of the Truman PTO! She is currently president of the organization. She has spearheaded Truman Family Activity nights as well as the Tiger Trot, Glow Dance, and Planet X night events. She spends many hours a month making sure that Truman families always have a fun PTO activity to attend.  She also coordinates events for the staff, including coordination of Teacher Appreciation Week. Since last fall, she has also been a full time teacher herself. Before that time, she volunteered for many activities during the school day. Now she volunteers many hours on the weekend and during the evening but her efforts ensure that the Truman PTO is a strong organization and that important school and family events occur. 


Van Buren Elementary - John Dunkin

John has been involved with Van Buren for many years and in several different roles. He has served as a Rockin’ Reader and is currently in a more specific mentoring role. He brings great experience and wisdom to his involvements. As a former counselor, John provides a perfect balance of patience and a kind listening ear as he helps students with math, reading, and daily topics. Everyone is excited to see John when he arrives at the school three days each week. In addition to supporting their learning, he is inspiring others to step up and give back as volunteers. We are hoping to master the cloning process soon, so there will be enough “John Dunkins” to go around.


Viola Gibson Elementary - Amber Guck

Amber organizes the Book Cart Program for K-2 students, including book prep and organization, training and managing more than 20 volunteers, and meeting with individual students. This year, she even went above and beyond and created progress reports for teachers prior to conferences. Her impact on the school community is positive and far reaching. The amount of time that she dedicates each week at school is reason enough for recognition but she also spends countless hours volunteering from home -- updating book lists, creating reports for teachers, and thinking of new ways to make the Book Cart Program even better. She is a wonderful advocate for reading…encouraging all students to participate in the program and enriching their school experiences. 


Wright Elementary - Corinnie Ketelsen

Corinnie works in a 1st grade classroom, helping with reading, math, and “whatever else” is needed. The students can count on her being there every Thursday and eagerly await her arrival. She provides one-on-one time that they love and benefit from. She has also helped to recruit other classroom volunteers, helped with hearing testing, and she organized a group - along with herself - to participate in the Spring Carnival. Corinnie is always asking how she can help more and what can she do for students. She’s a vital member of the Wright school community!


Franklin Middle School - Diane Ratzer

Diane serves students and staff in several ways.  She has supported the dance marathon, athletics, and literacy. Each week book displays are created, learning materials are delivered to classes, and reluctant readers have someone listen to them. These positive actions have a tremendous impact on the library, filling a void.  Her demeanor, humor, and smile make her a favorite among students. Her tireless efforts have made Franklin a better place to learn. Her generosity has rubbed off on students helping them to become positive, helpful, and great members of the community. Franklin has been fortunate to have Diane’s support and shining example.


Harding Middle School - Kristina Farrington

Kristina volunteers both in the vocal department and with student leadership activities. She can be found chaperoning dances and special events and assisting staff and students as they prepare for the show choir season. Kristina works behind the scenes to make sure that Show Choir students represent Harding in the best light possible by looking and acting the part. We want others watching to have a positive image of Harding and she works to achieve that. She provides an extra set of hands and eyes during our student leadership events. She is a self-starter and has developed great relationships with staff and students. We are grateful for all she does. 


McKinley Middle School - Katherine Brokaw

Katherine wears many volunteer hats. As PTA treasurer, she has done an outstanding job of keeping finances organized and balanced. In the past, she served as chairperson of the magazine sales drive, a main source of funding for school activities. She is also chair of the landscaping committee and co-chair of the staff appreciation committee. Her involvement and leadership in the PTA helps support school programs, building improvements, and educational events. She leads the charge in keeping the school grounds beautiful for students, teachers, and parents to enjoy. She has also organized volunteers to help with the back-to-school breakfast for staff, teacher/parent conference dinners, and the dinner for the Variety Show.  


Roosevelt Middle School - Adrianne Stahle

Adrianne spends the majority of her volunteer time helping with the Regeneration Show Choir. She organizes the costume closet, styles hair and make-up for students before performances, and donates food for students and helps serve during clinics. She also takes time to go over communication with show choir parents to make sure it is accurate and parent friendly. She also succeeded in finding fabulous second-hand dresses for just $15 each! Regeneration is a public reflection of Roosevelt to the community and parent volunteers are crucial to help ensure a successful experience for students. More students are choosing to audition after seeing the positive impact the program has on their peers. Adrianne has been instrumental in that.


Taft Middle School - Maggie Brown

Maggie is the type of person who sees a need and immediately addresses it – doing whatever she can to help. For the past six years, she has served in the key role of Taft volunteer coordinator – coordinating assistance for many teachers and offering parents an opportunity to be involved in their child’s education. Whether it is a bake sale, a staff breakfast, organizing agenda checkers, student/staff basketball games, or the Carnival, Maggie has been vital. She has also been involved with supervising field trips, volunteering in the library, developing bulletin boards, main office clerical work, and regularly supplies food for Staff Appreciation breakfasts. Maggie is also active with our band and show choir and with the PTA.  


Wilson Middle School - Chris Wright-Lind

Chris is at the ready to help at any time. She always volunteers for road trips and because she has built positive connections with students, positive behaviors are the result when she’s around. She loves working with students and they enjoy being around her. She also does filing for the nurse’s office, works in the school store, and has been a valuable asset to the “Gear Up” program, chaperoning events, helping in the planning of functions, and assisting with documentation. Additionally, she champions the “Toys for Tots” effort during the holidays, helps with Special Olympics, volunteers at the Salvation Army, and has appeared as “Clifford the Big Red Dog” at the library. Chris is always stepping up to support others!


Jefferson High School - Carrie Steimer

Carrie Steimer has served as a PTA officer in the District for 14 consecutive years, volunteering in leadership roles at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Currently, she is President of the JHS organization. Carrie has been a continuous supporter of Jefferson High School in so many other facets as well, including treasurer of the football parent organization, and working in and coordinating the baseball concession stand. She has also provided meals, rides and fundraiser help for band, swimming, and cheerleading. All of Carrie’s assistance is accompanied by a huge smile, a contagious enthusiasm, and a wonderful attitude!


Kennedy High School - Chris Caldbeck

Chris is involved in multiple facets of the Kennedy Fine Arts program, marching band, theater and drama, speech, and show choir. Chris is an amazing behind the scenes volunteer, driving equipment trailers to marching band, speech, and show choir events around the state, as well as building set designs for plays and musicals.  His efforts have been key in making it possible for Kennedy to host large scale events that showcase the high school to the greater commu- nity while also raising funds to support fine arts programming and students that may not otherwise be able to afford the costs that can accompany the programs. Volunteers like Chris make taking on these large events possible at Kennedy High School.


Metro High School - AJ Murphy

AJ works with students in the Metro STEAM Academy, an instructional program that combines a cross curricular approach with entrepreneurship. With the transformation of turning classroom experiences into classrooms with 21st century technology, boundary-free collaboration, and “outside the box” flexibility, Mr. Murphy has served as a valuable asset to showing students how to apply their skills. He is an expert in leather making design. AJ is part of a strategic plan to matriculate Metro students to Kirkwood’s ACE Academy that will lead them to college certificates, associates, bachelors and/or graduate degrees. With AJ’s help, students have developed applicable skills that can translate into career trades and other post-secondary learning opportunities.  


Washington High School - Heidi Becker

Heidi has supported students and staff by serving as president of the Parents for the Performing Arts, chairing the Buy It For A Song event, serving as a TCR liaison, Momentum Show Choir and drama representative, state speech contest volunteer coordinator, show choir and Ireland marching band trip chaperone, post prom volunteer, and sports volunteer. She continuously advocates for students and promotes programs. She has dedicated an unbelievable amount of time and energy into our WHS community, despite health challenges. Her enthusiasm and positive energy rubs off on everyone who works with her. Heidi enjoys getting to know students and watching them grow as they are given opportunities to shine.