PARKLAND, FL- Four Parkland schools received the Golden School Award for the 2018-2019 school year. The Florida Department of Education Golden and Silver School Awards recognize schools with exemplary volunteer programs that promote parent and community engagement in education. Broward County Public Schools announced 76 District schools that earned the 2018-2019 Golden and Silver School Awards. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Westglades Middle School, Riverglades Elementary and Heron Heights Elementary were presented with the Gold Award.
It was the 20th year that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was presented with the Gold Award. Westglades Middle School was awarded the Gold Award for its third year. Riverglades has achieved the Gold Award 26 times, and Heron Heights has received the Gold award since it opened 10 years ago.
Stoneman Douglas Principal Michelle Kefford is appreciative of the effort from volunteers. "We feel community involvement is instrumental in the success of our school," Kefford says. "We are very fortunate to have an active volunteer program that continues to support MSD. The Golden School Award recognizes the quality and caliber of this volunteer program."
The time that local parents put into supporting and building the MSD community is tremendous. Principal Kefford notes the leadership and sheer number of hours that are put into guiding the volunteer effort as a whole. "Debbie Wanamaker is our Volunteer Coordinator and has worked very hard to continue to build on our strong tradition of community involvement. We are very proud to say that the volunteers at MSD have logged over 10,500 hours, serving in multiple ways," Kefford adds. "In the 2018-2019 school year, 14 of our dedicated volunteers received special recognition for volunteering over 200 hours of their time. We are also lucky to have worked with our 4-legged volunteers that provided over 1,050 hours of support to our staff and students," notes Kefford.
Middle and Elementary School needs are also significant. Teachers and parents alike know the value volunteers bring to the classrooms. "After 17 years of teaching there has been one constant force that continues to be an invaluable resource to both myself and students. School Volunteers are essential to organizing fundraising events, classroom projects, classroom parties, working with small groups, and other school activities," stated Riverglades first grade teacher Anna Taylor.
"About once a month, I will go into my daughter's classroom to help her teacher with paperwork and organization. This gives me a chance to get a glimpse into her awesome classroom. Her teacher works incredibly hard to make the class a special place, and it makes me feel good to give back to her in a very small way," added Heron Heights parent Lauryn Shapiro.
"I’ve been fortunate enough to be teaching at Riverglades for 20 years. It is my belief, that parents are partners in the educational process. While At Riverglades, my parents have definitely shared the same view. Parent involvement, especially in the classroom, has afforded me the time and ability to work with small groups of students as well as providing more ‘one on one’ time. This benefits the whole learning community. The wonderful and genuine parental involvement at Riverglades is what makes our school special," stated Riverglades Kindergarten teacher Dorothy Bevins.
Volunteers help schools to run more smoothly and support teachers and staff, but they also have an impact on the students they see during their time at school. "I have often seen parent volunteers reach struggling students, create special bonds, and be that extra smiling face to let children know that they are loved, safe, and valued. Without volunteers, our schools and ultimately our children wouldn’t be as successful," added Taylor.