20 Aug 2014
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Elna Flynn Outstanding Volunteer Awards 2014

TheElna Flynn Outstanding Volunteer Awardsare inspired by the life of Elna Flynn (1930-1987).  Elna Flynn was the consummate Pacifica volunteer who spent her time in classrooms and served as president of the PTA at Portola School and of the Laguna Salada PTA Council, served on the 17th District PTA for San Mateo County, and was a founder of the Oceana Scholarship and Activities Foundation. 

The Elna Flynn Awards dinner is now held in the spring and will take place on Friday, May 16, 2014.  It is typically a sold out event. Please contact the PTO board of your child’s school if you are interested in attending.

This award celebrates those individuals who volunteer countless hours of time in the name of education.  

Below are the peer recommendations provided by school representatives:

Cabrillo School

Nancy Rickson has been volunteering at Cabrillo School for 10 years.  She has four children, Sam 15, Amelia 12, Celia 10, and Corbin 7.  She began volunteering in the classroom and teaching art in her son’s kindergarten class.  After a few years, she took on the Art Chair and Art Supply Chairperson positions.  She has taught numerous art classes to K-5 grades as well as special projects with 6-8th grade.  

Nancy also runs the school kilns & has fired clay projects for other Pacifica schools.  Another passion is the library and she has volunteered every year as well working at each book fair during her tenure.  Nancy’s other volunteer duties have included class liaison, class art auction projects, and PTO Secretary.  The dedication & commitment of Cabrillo’s teachers and staff have inspired Nancy to help in anyway she can, “I feel lucky to be able to volunteer as much as I do, to be a small part of my children’s education is amazing!”

Vic Valco started volunteering when his daughter, now age 26, was in Mrs. Sutter's kindergarten class. “I was hooked. The staff and parents at Cabrillo are all high quality individuals and I feel privileged to be associated with them. I'm trying to help the kids realize that a 'long and happy life' has to include healthy, and that now is the time to start working towards that. And they treat me like a Rock Star when I show up…where else am I going to get that? I plan on coming back every year until they tell me to stop.”

Ingrid B. Lacy Middle School

IBL is delighted to recognize two dedicated volunteers this year.

Janet Cordova has been IBL’s PTO Volunteer Coordinator for the past two years, and according to those who know her, she is a “wonder woman”! Even though Janet works as a worldwide program manager for Hewlett Packard, she manages to find time in the evenings or on weekends to recruit and schedule volunteers.  Events often occur within a similar time frame, and May’s Chocolate Fest alone requires almost 100 parent volunteers. “Sometimes I feel as if I am bombarding parents with volunteer requests and e-mail blasts!”

Janet’s bombardments pay off; IBL parents can’t speak highly enough of her ability to staff events, even when she’s out of the country. Alas, Janet will be moving on to Terra Nova High School in 2014-15, where her two sons will be in the 9th and 12th grades. She is already planning to help wherever she’s needed at the high school. Terra Nova will be lucky to have her!

Jim Lindland is a volunteer math tutor in the classrooms of Ms. Suri and Ms. Alderson. Jim puts in an incredible number of hours every week, working every day except Thursday. Rather than feeling tired after a long day of tutoring, Jim is invigorated by helping students learn new skills. According to Cathy Alderson, “Jim assists us in so many ways, but most importantly, he works with the students, helping them with difficult middle school math concepts. The students enjoy his company and feel very comfortable asking for help.”

Jim began working with students in 2010, assisting high schoolers to prepare for their Senior Exhibitions at Oceana High School. After two years, however, he felt that he had more to offer in terms of community service. When his great-granddaughter began attending IBL in 2012, Jim discovered a need there, and he has never looked back. Jim believes that virtually every classroom should have at least one volunteer.  It’s challenging for teachers to provide one-on-one tutoring to all of the students who truly need it, so Jim’s presence in the classroom is invaluable. Jim claims he’ll continue volunteering “until they carry me out in a box!”

Ocean Shore School

Ocean Shore School is pleased to award Chris Romero and Teri Voorhes with the Elna Flynn award this year. 

We are so excited to choose Chris Romero as one of Ocean Shore’s recipients of the Elna Flynn Outstanding Volunteer Award. Chris is a quiet yet essential part of the Ocean Shore School and community. Not only has he spent the past nine years volunteering his service daily to the school in the area of technology support, he has also made himself available to the greater Pacifica School District as well. 

Chris wants no glory for the thousands of hours of service he has provided over all these years. He is often seen at the school in the afternoons and evenings working to keep all the technology needs managed at Ocean Shore School. He works tirelessly on our volunteer – maintained computer lab to make sure it is always functioning for students. He works in every classroom to assure that teachers have the technology they need for teaching and works on every student device from laptops to desktops to Google chrome books.  He troubleshoots all levels of computer, tech, and network problems. His knowledge of technology and his experience working in education allows us to depend on him daily to make decisions, which benefit every child on our campus.

Due to Chris Romero’s dedication over the years we have been able to move from having virtually no technology to sustaining almost one device for every child at the school. There is no question that without the dedication of Chris, his understanding of Ocean Shore, and his patience with all school personnel, we would not be at a point where the children could benefit so greatly from access to technology today. We thank Chris so much for his dedication to Ocean Shore School.

Teri Voorhes has been involved in so many areas of our school, it's hard to keep track!  She has been at our school for 10 years with her boys Robert and Max. 

Teri served on the PTO Board for a few years as a Parent Grade Representative and then as a Vice President.  During that time she was organized and diligent about her duties.  Teri was asked many times to consider running for PTO president but there were other areas where she wanted to lend her talents.

Teri moved on to run the school library, which is an entirely volunteer effort.  She helped update the collection and eased the transition to the computerized system.  One of the areas where Teri has had a hugely positive influence is as a member of the SEPAC committee, which represents special needs students in our district.  Ability Awareness Day is a wonderful, inclusive event which Teri and teacher, Shelley Denny, worked tirelessly on each year.

If you take a tour at Ocean Shore, Teri is one of the first people you'll meet.  She has volunteered as our Prospective Parent Coordinator for several years.  Teri gives tours, answers oodles of questions and helps keep track of the ever-important waitlist.

Teri has also served as our Job Coordinator, a huge job; she has organized 8th grade graduation, driven field trips, helped schedule Oceans Week, and much, much more.  Ocean Shore thanks Teri for 10 wonderful years!  We will miss her!

Ortega School

Ten years ago, Megan Asaro moved to Pacifica and her daughter, Ashley, began kindergarten at Ortega Elementary. Her son, Samuel, is now in 3 rd grade. Megan soon began to assemble the Wednesday packets and that morphed into being room parent, chairing book fairs and bake sales, selling popcorn and popsicles, and assisting with carnivals, auctions, and other events. She sat on the PTO Board for two years and chaired the Read-A-Thon for nine, including one year she didn’t have a child at Ortega! When Megan reflects on her volunteerism, she thinks of the life-long friendships she has forged and the hugs she gets from so many kids, many who are now in high school, and she feels lucky.

Rudy Benton has enjoyed working with children through recreation for over 40 years. After retiring from his position as PE teacher in the Burlingame School District, he has kindly graced his home town of Pacifica with his sparkling presence. For the past 5 years, Mr. Benton has volunteered at Ortega Elementary School. Stretching the limits of what is traditionally considered PE, Rudy has challenged his students both physically and intellectually. His unique curriculum encourages kids to explore the world of movement through a myriad of activities.

The best prop in his bag of tricks is Rudy himself. With his engaging manner, he gets the kids to enthusiastically repeat positive messages such as "I'm going to College" and "I will never smoke". We have truly been blessed to have him be such an important and inspirational part of the Ortega family.

Sunset Ridge School 

Laura Alvarado has been a volunteer at Sunset Ridge for over five years; it’s no wonder she is one of our Elna Flynn honorees for 2014.  Laura is the mother of three: Jacob (12), Adriana (10), and Samuel (7).  She has spent countless hours making our school a better place for her children and for every student.  She began helping our school as a library volunteer, and enthusiastically jumped in when the PTO was in need of dedicated board members.  Serving as our PTO President, she brought her bright positivity and her strong sense of family values.  Laura always plays a considerable role in organizing many events and fundraisers such as our Fall Fundraiser, Cookie Dough Drive, Pancake Breakfast, and annual Boo Fest.  We enjoy her cheerful and kind spirit when interacting with the students at Sunset Ridge.  Her dedication to our school is genuinely appreciated and we are grateful for all her hard work.  Laura Alvarado is currently a member of our staff and contributes every day in making our Sunset Ridge Elementary School great!

Julie Austin has been an active volunteer at Sunset Ridge since the first day her son started kindergarten.  She has two children Dylan (7) and Chloe (6) and has been an amazing asset to our school.  As our PTO Secretary, Julie’s methodical attention to detail and her abilities to utilize community resources has been an amazing addition to our PTO.  Her dependability and steadfast commitment sets the pace for all our volunteers.  As like all honorees, when there is a challenge at hand, Julie steps up and takes it on.  Organizing The Sunset Ridge Elementary School International Potluck, as well as creating our first ever family cookbook are only a couple examples of her success.  Her daily contributions to the teachers and staff have made our tasks lighter and lives easier.  Julie's dedication and can-do attitude has been invaluable and we hope to have her positive energy for years to come.

Sunset Ridge Elementary School is successful because of volunteers like Laura and Julie.  They are shining examples to all parents and we wholeheartedly appreciate their constant efforts and persevering devotion!

Vallemar School

Vallemar School is proud to announce Debbie Mrad as our 2014 Elna Flynn recipient.  Debbie has been a dedicated Vallemar parent for nine years.  She has two children at Vallemar, Amanda in sixth grade and Shawn in eighth grade.  

Debbie started her volunteering career at the Co-op Preschool in Pacifica and has been an active parent ever since.  She has helped out in her children’s classrooms with organizing special classroom celebrations, making copies for teachers, volunteering during psychomotor and computer lab times, and has attended almost every field trip including the overnighters!!  Debbie has been the class representative and grade level representative for her children’s classes helping out with parent communication, auction baskets, and teacher appreciation gifts.

She has also helped outside the classroom with our school.  Debbie helped organize our school’s recycling and compost program called “Vallemar Goes Green”, which we still use today.  She had an active role in our school auction, preparing the class art projects and baskets for all the classes.  Debbie has served on our School Site Council for multiple years and took part in making calls for several ballot measures in support of schools.

Debbie has taken an active role in our Parent Teacher Organization (PTO).  She served on the PTO board for several years and has coordinated several programs such as our volunteer program, the school tool box fundraiser, and more recently the 8th grade graduation activities.  Thanks to Debbie, we also have a beautiful new brick path called, “The Path of Excellence”!

Debbie Mrad is dedicated to our school, students, staff, and community.  She has supported all of us in so many positive ways.  We are lucky to have her and her children here at Vallemar.

Congratulations to all the Elna Flynn Outstanding Volunteer Award 2014 Recipients!

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