Volunteers Recognized for Valuable Service to Schools
Greenville County Schools is celebrating National Volunteer Week April 8-12 as a way to recognize the enormous contributions of school volunteers. The first annual GCS Volunteer Spotlights are being presented this week to honor five individuals who give their time, talent, and treasure to improve our schools and make a positive impact on students, staff, and school programs. In recognition of their contributions and service, Michelin is presenting each recipient with a complimentary set of tires.
Miriam Torres, Welcome Elementary School
Miriam Torres not only serves as the Welcome Elementary PTA president, she also serves on the Greenville County Schools District PTA to represent Hispanic parents. She has encouraged Hispanic families to be involved at Welcome Elementary, and serves as the leader of the ESOL Hispanic Heritage Celebration. Ms. Torres can be seen volunteering in classrooms and in the office. She added inspirational quotes in the restrooms, and has developed the PTA from the ground up. One of her most important contributions is to provide written translations and helps manage the school’s Facebook page.
Rhonda Hunt, East North Street Academy
Rhonda Hunt, a Michelin Challenge volunteer at East North Street Academy, serves as the coordinator of the Girls Loving Science Club for 4th and 5th grade girls. Her goal is to inspire young people by exposing them to the many opportunities available to them. She works with the counselors to organize an annual career fair, and organizes Michelin volunteers for events such as STEAMFEST at Roper Mountain Science Center. Ms. Hunt goes above and beyond by providing activities like rocket launching, exploring polymers, and designing and building robots with the girls.
Tavia Gaddy, Greenville Early College
Tavia Gaddy is a dedicated volunteer at Greenville Early College. As a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, she participated in the statewide Founders Day Program that provided the Early College with a donation of more than $3,000. She also served as a chaperone at the school’s second annual Great Day of Service and Sweetheart Dance. One of her most important contributions has been to secure funding for the school to purchase graduation blazers for students. “We are very grateful for Mrs. Gaddy’s help in getting the blazers,” said Principal Marjon Ford. “This is one way to help the students understand that they can dress for success and still be connected to people who love them. They will be able to go to an interview for apply for a fellowship or internship or travel abroad knowing that they have something that says ‘I am prepared.’”
Matalyhis Dunham, A. J. Whittenberg Elementary School
Matalyhis Dunham initiated the WATCH DOGS (Dads of Great Students) program at A. J. Whittenberg Elementary School as a mentoring program for young men. WATCH DOGS meet with boys to discuss life skills, problem-solving skills, communication strategies, and de-escalation skills. Mr. Dunham has personally invested more than 600 hours to A. J. Whittenberg’s young men. Between eight and twelve WATCH DOGS are in the car line very day to welcome students and families and to better support the needs of students. The program has had a dramatic and immediate impact on student engagement and discipline, resulting in the complete elimination of discipline referrals among the students involved.
Valerie Allen, Washington Center
Valerie Allen has served on the Washington Center PTA for four years. She’s been described as “inexhaustible” because of the many hats she wears. “Anything we need, she’s right there to do it,” says Principal Penny Rogers. “She really is such an asset for us and we’re grateful for all she does.” As PTA treasurer, Mrs. Allen keeps the books, sends meeting reminders, chairs meetings, and prepares agendas and notes. One example of her dedication to Washington Center is that she makes special arrangements for teachers and staff who have dietary restrictions when she prepares monthly staff luncheons.