PCPS Honors Volunteer of the Year Winners With Surprise Recognitions

PCPS Honors Volunteer of the Year Winners With Surprise Recognitions

For Schools, News
PCPS Volunteer of the Year medal and card

Polk County Public Schools and MidFlorida Credit Union recently honored the school district’s 2020 Volunteers of the Year with surprise, pandemic-safe recognitions at each volunteer’s school.

“I am honored to celebrate you and your efforts,” said MidFlorida Senior Vice President/West Regional Manager Ryan Rogers, in a statement to the district’s Volunteers of the Year.

“On behalf of MidFlorida Credit Union, we’d like to thank you for your incredible dedication and service to our students and schools, and for being real-life superheroes to many of our children. As you know, our schools need role models like you to build our future leaders.”

In August, Rogers and PCPS staff arranged surprise visits to each district-level Volunteer of the Year. Winners were selected from more than 90 individuals named Volunteers of the Year at their respective schools.

Each of the six-district level winners received a prize package that included a plaque, flowers, balloons, portable cooler, and other items. Gift sponsors included Chick-fil-A, Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa, and Salem’s Fresh Eats. All 90 Volunteer of the Year honorees received a certificate of appreciation, medallion and a Chick-fil-A gift as well.

Watch a video of the surprise Volunteer of the Year recognitions:

“During this time of uncertainty, we were excited about this new way to highlight the crucial role volunteers play in students’ lives, and how they enrich our schools with their dedication,” said Jeanette Crowley, PCPS’ senior coordinator of strategic partnerships. “It’s important for us to show our Volunteer of the Year winners and honorees how special and appreciated their efforts are to PCPS.”

Added Rogers:

“MidFlorida began in 1954 as Polk County Teachers Credit Union, and we are proud to continue supporting our schools and education initiatives in the communities where we serve. Volunteers’ efforts in the community do not go unnoticed, and we are honored to join in recognizing them.”

PCPS’ 2020 Volunteers of the Year winners include:


Elementary Level

  • Kayla Ammerman, Floral Avenue Elementary Youth Volunteer of the Year

Ammerman, a senior at Bartow High, has volunteered in a kindergarten classroom at Floral Avenue Elementary since she was in the sixth grade. Ammerman has helped with preparing homework packets, prepping centers, cleaning tables and reading to students. She’s approached every task with an eagerness to learn best teaching practices. The school describes her as “a beautiful, gentle sprit” who is giving to others.

  • Lisa Newberry, Frank E. Brigham Academy Adult Volunteer of the Year

Newberry is known as a tireless helper to teachers and encourager to students. She helps physical education teachers prepare for the day’s lesson, which allows them to give maximum time and attention to their students. When she’s not helping teachers prepare, she’s often found cheering students on, and even running alongside them as they finish their final lap. Many of the students have taken to calling her “coach.” Newberry is also the acting PTO president, room mom for her daughter’s classroom, copy mom for the entire fifth grade, and the school’s liaison to local businesses and the surrounding community.

  • Joanne Gabel, Alta Vista Elementary Senior Volunteer of the Year

Gabel has compromised eyesight and has to rely on her husband and others to drive her to and from Alta Vista Elementary. Despite this challenge, she volunteered more than 717 hours during the 2019-20 school year. She is particularly skilled at helping struggling readers build both their skills and confidence. Several of the students she has worked with have achieved significant improvements in their STAR reading scores. In its nomination of Gabel, the school wrote, “the gift our volunteer is giving will be felt for generations to come.”


Secondary Level

  • Ashley Alvarado-Trejo, Bartow Middle Volunteer of the Year

Alvarado-Trejo previously attended Bartow Middle. Now that she’s moved on to Bartow High Schools, she still makes time to go back to her middle school to help in any way that she can. She most often works with the school’s chorus teacher, and can often be found in the copy room, making dozens of copies of music sheets. Alvarado-Trejo also mentors students and helps them make the transition from the middle school music program to the high school program.

  • Tracey Porter, Southwest Middle Adult Volunteer of the Year

Porter volunteers a minimum of 20 hours a week and serves as PTA treasurer. She personally calls each parent to invite his/her child to Saturday Boot Camp and other extended learning opportunities. She also helps with the media center’s Scholastic Book Fair and initiatives designed to boost teacher morale, chaperones at school events, and helps with National Junior Honor Society events and activities. Porter is described as going “above and beyond” for SWMS.

  • Phyllis King, Union Academy Senior Volunteer of the Year

King can often be found copying, stapling, and sorting papers in the copy room so that teachers have more time to plan and work with students. When not helping teachers, she is usually working in the media center, patching and shelving books. She loves to get to know the students while helping them check out their next AR book. As an avid reader herself, it is easy for King to talk to students about books and encourage them to try something new. King also often brings in supplies for the school, including baggies and tissues, while never expecting anything in return.

PCPS’ 2020 Volunteers of the Year honorees include:

School Volunteer
Alta Vista Elementary Joanne Gabel
Alturas Elementary Elizabeth Breton
Auburndale Central Elementary Julieanna Wilkerson
Auburndale Senior High Tiffany Davidson
Bartow Elementary Academy Kelly Spezzano
Bartow Middle Ashley Alvarado -Trejo
Bartow Senior High Sabina Elmasri
Ben Hill Griffin Jr. Elementary Carol Held
Bethune Academy Robert Cutrupi
Carlton Palmore Elementary Crystal Green
Chain Of Lakes Elementary Karen Mullen
Clarence Boswell Elementary Brittany Parsley
Cleveland Court Elementary Michelle Peronto
Combee Academy of Design and Engineering Gary Jones
Crystal Lake Elementary Gordon Barnes
Davenport School of the Arts Caroline Babbitt
Dr. NE Roberts Elementary Janet Luna
Dundee Elementary Academy Linda Kuchta
East Area Adult School Peter Scarnato
Eastside Elementary Cindy Warrick
Edgar L. Padgett Elementary Jessica Zhuo
Elbert Elementary Debbie Compton
Floral Avenue Elementary Kayla Ammermann
Fort Meade Middle/Senior High Luann Green
Frank E. Brigham Academy Lisa Newberry
Fred G. Garner Elementary Gorden Evans
Frostproof Elementary Jeannette Hamlin
Frostproof Middle/Senior High Marianne Brackley
Garden Grove Elementary Donna Jackson
Griffin Elementary Mary Clarke
Haines City Senior High Kari Stuart
Harrison School for the Arts Krista Alexander
Highland City Elementary Patricia Wooley
Highlands Grove Elementary Sandi Opalinski
Horizons Elementary Fabiola Viera
Inwood Elementary Cynthia Ashley
James E. Stephens Elementary Dawn Godwin
James W. Sikes Elementary Alisha Mishler
Jere L. Stambaugh Middle Kathy Sasnett
Jewett School of the Arts Andreaj Lott
John Snively Elementary Dan Moon
Kathleen Elementary Mildred “Millie” Pagan
Kathleen Senior High Vivian Sanders
Kingsford Elementary Meagan Doyle
Lake Alfred Elementary Vincent Guarcello
Lake Alfred Polytech Academy Erika Olivera
Lake Gibson Middle Elena Garcia Gonzalez
Lake Gibson Senior High Brenda Frye
Lake Region High Kevin Chioma
Lake Shipp Elementary Sara Test
Lakeland Highlands Middle Susie Bailey
Lawton Chiles Middle Academy Julie Roberts
Lena Vista Elementary Sarita Boyd
Lincoln Avenue Academy Rachel Torres
Loughman Oaks Elementary Jennifer Denham
McLaughlin Middle & Fine Arts Academy D’Juan Jones
Mulberry Middle Christine Harris
Mulberry Senior High Wendi Wilkerson
North Lakeland Elem. School of Choice Rhonda McGee
Oscar J. Pope Elementary Keiara Albritton
Palmetto Elementary Ralph Whalen
Philip O’Brien Elementary Forrest White
Pinewood Elementary Kathryn Holman
Polk City Elementary Crystal Pendergrass
Purcell Elementary Barbara Brooks
R. Bruce Wagner Elementary Brian Negron
R. Clem Churchwell Elementary Jennifer Lamanna Herndon
Ridge Community High Garrett Johnson
Rochelle School Of The Arts Tammie Cooney
Roosevelt Academy Peggy Hallett
Rosabelle W. Blake Academy Mary McDonald
Sandhill Elementary Sarah Roman
Scott Lake Elementary Jan Grove
Sleepy Hill Elementary Marjorie Meadows
Socrum Elementary Kristina Brinn
Southwest Elementary Donna Legg
Southwest Middle Tracey Porter
Spessard L Holland Elementary Hannah Petersen
Spook Hill Elementary David Caldwell
Tenoroc High Pauline Simmonds-Brown
Traviss Technical College Sterling Harte
Union Academy Phyllis King
Valleyview Elementary Francisca Mendez
Wahneta Elementary Linda Scanlon
Walter Caldwell Elementary Dorothy Baldwin
Wendell Watson Elementary Stan Saisa
West Area Adult/Community Elsie McCall
Winston Academy of Engineering Kristin Santonastaso
Winter Haven Senior High Darcey L Martin