Broward County Public Schools recently honored parents, volunteers, mentors and business and community partnerships at its annual Community Involvement Awards. The theme for this year’s community involvement celebration was “You Make a World of Difference.”
OUTSTANDING DISTRICT PARTNERSHIP OF THE YEAR
Education and Youth Advocacy Committee, The Broward Workshop
The Broward Workshop, a private non-partisan, non-profit organization consisting of 100 of Broward’s leading business and professional leaders, formed the Education and Youth Advocacy Committee (EYAC), co-chaired by Alan Levy, President and CEO of Great American Farms and Linda Carter, President and CEO of Community Foundation of Broward. EYAC members, executive leaders from the District, business sector and postsecondary institutions, are charged with breaking down barriers and creating community solutions to the issues facing education.
OUTSTANDING SCHOOL-BASED PARTNERSHIPS OF THE YEAR
Donation of Cash or In-Kind Support Award: Publix Super Markets with Whispering Pines Center
Publix Super Market is a mainstay at Whispering Pines Center, a facility that serves emotionally/behaviorally disturbed, special-needs students ranging from 5 to 22 years of age. Among the programs offered by Publix is an on-the-job training program that assists students in acquiring self-reliance, self-esteem, independent living skills, as well as social skills, work ethics and employability skills. Publix provides hands-on training opportunities for students to learn key job skills in the areas of front-end customer service (bagging), frozen food and produce stocking. Several Whispering Pines students found permanent employment with Publix after finishing their education.
Donation of Time Award: Jones Lang LaSalle with Boyd Anderson High School
Steven Wasserman, Senior Vice President of Jones Lang LaSalle and a member of the Council of Educational Change successfully facilitated a $250,000 grant targeted to increasing Boyd Anderson High School’s graduation rate. Wasserman worked with teams of teachers, administrators and business representatives to develop and implement a student shadowing and internship program, a career fair and a Global Logistics and Manufacturing dual enrollment program aligned to Broward College.
Project-Based Learning Partnership Award: Sonny’s Enterprises and Atlantic Technical Center and Technical High School
Sonny’s provides hands-on, high quality instruction to Atlantic Technical High School students through a variety of programs. With the support and assistance of Sonny’s engineers, managers, machinists and even the company president, the FIRST Robotics team built a competitive robot able to perform and win at competitions locally and nationally. Sonny’s is also involved with the Machining Apprenticeship Program, which trains more then 30 students per year. 100% of these students opted for college as the next step, with 76% choosing engineering as their major.
OUTSTANDING PARENT INVOLVEMENT AWARDS
Everyone Counts Family Program, Castle Hill Elementary School
A series of monthly events brought more than 800 parents, students and community partners to Castle Hill Elementary for fun, camaraderie and learning. Under the Big Top Math Night, All Star Reading Night, and Science Rocks Night each targeted core subject areas and helped students and their parents expand their knowledge and skills.
Real Food in the Real World, Rickards Middle School
Students at Rickards Middle worked countless hours designing, planting and tending gardens. Progress was tracked through various learning activities and the program culminated in multiple culinary events featuring harvested food served to more than 700 families. Thanks to community partners including Holy Cross Hospital, Home Depot, Loews and Botanical Concepts, Real Food in the Real World provides hands-on science activities, health and nutrition support, family education and school-community engagement.
OUTSTANDING MENTORS AND MENTORING PROGRAMS
Mentor of the Year, Elementary Level: Simone Graham, Tropical Elementary School
A member of America Reads program through Nova Southeastern University, Graham works with 25 students in first through fourth grades who have deficiencies in reading development. Ms. Graham is a full time student and paraplegic whose positive influence resulted in demonstrated gains in reading and comprehension for all of her mentored students.
Mentor of the Year, Middle School Level: Conrad Forbes, Westpine Middle School
Not one to sit back and wait for others to take the lead, Forbes is an assistant principal who developed a mentoring program to address the academic, social and emotional issues of students who were repeatedly sent to his office for disciplinary purposes. Rather than promoting punishment, Forbes encourages optimism through individualized support and extracurricular activities that teach new skills while broadening the horizons of the students. The results of the PRIDE Youth Mentoring Program are amazing.
Mentor of the Year, High School Level: John Burke, Atlantic Technical Center and Technical High School
On June 3, John Burke will watch his student mentee graduate with well-deserved pride. Burke and his mentee have been meeting weekly since the student’s freshman year and have shared many experiences. Born in China and brought to the United States as a child, this mentee has been susceptible to many typical teen challenges, however, having Burke has a constant guide and advisor has made all the difference.
Co-mentor Team of the Year: Pamela Perkins and Winston Symonette, Apollo Middle School
How do we raise the graduation rate for young black males? Perkins and Symonette, both educators at Apollo Middle, may have the answer through their mentoring and tutoring program called “Developing Intelligent Young Men” (DIYM). These two mentors offer selected students life skills and help with academics, behavior, attendance and social development. The DIYM members are easy to spot on meeting days as they all wear white shirts and ties.
Mentor Program of the Year: Mujeres Latinas, Inc, Indian Ridge Middle School
The 23 Mujeres Latinas mentors are all members of Latin Women Empowering Latin Women. Understanding the challenges faced by Latina girls, particularly during adolescence, these mentors have a goal of improving the girls’ communication skills, strengthening peer and family bonds, increasing coping skills and raising academic achievement levels. The program has been described as, “Good for the soul and great for the heart.”
OUTSTANDING VOLUNTEERS OF THE YEAR
Adult Volunteer of the Year, Elementary Level: Renee Barrett Loperena, Sawgrass Elementary School
A volunteer for seven years, Loperena single handedly coordinates a musical and drama production that is part of the 5th grade end-of-year ceremony. Since participation is connected to academic and behavior performance, students are motivated to excel. Loperena’s program offers academic tutoring and assistance to those students who might need improvement.
Adult Volunteer of the Year, Secondary & Center Level: Joseph Cangialosi, Whispering Pines Center
A partner, mentor and volunteer for the past 10 years, Cangialosi offers students with severe emotional and behavioral disabilities, including traumatic brain injuries and severe mood disorders an icon of strength and patience. Often through the simple act of working in the vegetable and herb garden with child, Cangialosi creates a connection leading to a positive transformation.
Student Volunteer of the Year, Student Level: Jessica Acosta, Davie Elementary School
Davie Elementary nominated this 11th grade student from McFatter High because of her unfailing service to the school’s Kindergarten classrooms. Acosta works one-on-one or with small groups of children and prepares learning materials for teachers.
Outstanding Program Organizer of the Year: Amy Smetanick-Brown, Hollywood Hills Elementary School
Smetanick-Brown helped to establish the school’s art and science club, focusing on campus beautification through horticulture and mosaics. She co-wrote a successful Target grant that funded an after school art and literature club, entitled “Beyond the Frame.”
Outstanding Senior Volunteer of the Year: Dorothy Zarfjian, North Side Elementary School
A Foster Grandparent who speaks four languages, Ms. Zarfjian excels in reaching students, particularly those for whom English is a second language. She became a personal tutor for three students who arrived from Haiti with no English language skills. With Zarfjian’s support each day, the students increased their confidence and English skills and can now fully participate with their classmates.