Jacqueline Woodbury, PS 30 in Staten Island; nominated by Kathie Stefanski, Parent Coordinator.
Four years ago, Ms. Woodbury started a “reading revolution” at PS 30 with the BookTalk program. Her commitment to showing her students how fun reading can be has led her to create her own awards program called DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) in which the students vote on their favorite plots, characters and authors. The Parent Coordinator, Kathie Stefanski, recounts how one student was overheard saying, “Ms. Woodbury makes me feel like I am living in the book.” When the students at PS 30 were reading about Hawaii, she took it upon herself to set up a luau, complete with leis and floral attire. She has devoted herself to the students of PS 30 with an admirable amount of energy and love. Even more extraordinary is that the students she tutors miss recess, just to have more time with her. She is an exceptional volunteer that greatly deserves this recognition. Happy reading, Ms. Woodbury!
Doris Joya, PS 112 in the Bronx; nominated by Glenda Sierra, Parent Coordinator.
For many people, volunteering is a part-time commitment that only requires a few hours a week. For Ms. Joya however, she is at PS 112 from morning until night, Monday through Friday. She treats her volunteer work as a full-time job and is consistently available for all of her students in the 1st grade. As Glenda Sierra, the Parent Coordinator, notes, “Everyone knows and adores her. She has worked with the same teacher for a long time and thus the children look at her like she’s also a teacher.” Not only is she dependable, she is also hard-working. She never says no to anyone who needs help and is willing to work with other teachers if they require her assistance. We hope that all of our volunteers will find Ms. Joya’s unwavering enthusiasm for her work empowering and encouraging!
Karine Faublas-Zamor, PS 208 in Brooklyn; nominated by Geneva Bowser, Parent Coordinator.
Taking care of two children is usually a full-time job but Ms. Zamor still finds time to assist with the students of PS 208. Additionally, she helps translate English during school meetings, parent workshops and parent-teacher conferences. Ms. Bowser, the Parent Coordinator at PS 208, describes her work with the ELL students and parents as “heroic on many levels.” After Hurricane Sandy, PS 208 was designated as a home school for students from the Rockaways so Ms. Zamor helped the school coordinate the new influx of students in an organized and efficient manner. Two days a week you can find Ms. Zamor in the school library, talking to students about the books they are reading. She also assists with various school activities like Movie Night, Annual Pumpkin Patch, and the 5th Grade Prom. Ms. Zamor’s volunteer activities accurately reflect her deep involvement in her community and for that, we are always grateful!
JoAnn Balzano, PS 304 in the Bronx; nominated by Lisa Schiliro-Reilly, Parent Coordinator.
Because Ms. Balzano has been volunteering at PS 304 for the past 9 years, all the students from kindergarten to 5th grade think of her as their grandmother. Even though her own granddaughter graduated from PS 304 two years ago, Ms. Balzano has continued to support the efforts of the students through her volunteer work tutoring kindergarten and first grade students. Most notably, she very generously set up the “Balzano Scholarship” for graduating fifth graders, a scholarship dedicated to recognizing excellence. According to Lisa Schiliro-Reilly, the Parent Coordinator at PS 304, “Our administration feels JoAnn has pushed many children to succeed and that is the greatest impact of all!” In thanks for all of her hard work, we are elated to have Ms. Balzano as a Volunteer of the Month!
Joseph Filonowicz, PS 186 in Brooklyn; nominated by Lisa Amendolia, Teacher.
To his students, Mr. Filonowicz is an energetic, knowledgeable and engaging classroom volunteer but to school staff at PS 186, he is truly an angel. An accomplished cello player with a PhD in Philosophy, he is also a man of many talents. He not only tutors the students of PS 186 in math and reading but plays his guitar and sings with the students, enriching their interest in the arts. Lisa Amendolia, a teacher at PS 186, raves about how her students are eager to see him each week and that “parents and the children really admire his dedication to the students and the program.” It is clear he has raised the bar for volunteers everywhere. Keep up the great work, Mr. Filonowicz!
Leemoy Abraham, PS 68 in the Bronx; nominated by Barbara Tully, Parent Coordinator.
Ms. Abraham is consistently at PS 68 from 7:30 AM to 5 PM, helping out the staff with whatever they might need. She mainly tutors students of all grades in Math and ELA, using Great Leaps! as her method of teaching. Her kind and gentle manner allows students to truly connect with her and provides for very meaningful tutoring sessions. When she is not needed in a classroom, she helps out in the school with clerical work, lunchroom duty or the arrival/dismissal process. Ms. Tully, the Parent Coordinator, emphasizes the fact that “Leemoy is truly a gift to PS 68 and we are most appreciative for all that she gives to us.” Although a newbie to the Learning Leaders program, we hope that her service will continue for many years to come!
Sylvia White, PS 208 in Brooklyn; nominated by nominated by Geneva Bowser, Parent Coordinator.
A well respected member of the community, Ms. White has been volunteering at PS 208 for the past 3 years. Initially, Ms. White became a Learning Leaders volunteer in order to strengthen her involvement in her granddaughter’s education but her work has impacted all the students of PS 208. She even attends workshops and meetings outside of school hours so that she can stay informed and knowledgeable. Not only that but, Geneva Bowser, the Parent Coordinator, notes that “Ms. White is [also] known for her intelligence, work ethic, positive attitude, teamwork mentality and leadership.” With so many positive qualifications, it is no wonder that Ms. White is a valued Learning Leaders volunteer!
Patricia Marcus, PS 198 in Manhattan; nominated by Danielle Festa, Parent Coordinator.
When asked about Ms. Marcus, Danielle Festa, the Parent Coordinator at PS 198, remarks that “She helps the school in so many ways and she is an awesome leader.” She has consistently volunteered at the school, week after week, for the past two years. Ms. Marcus also organizes and raises money for school plays and workshops, demonstrating her unique fondness for the arts. Where she really shines though, is in helping the Pre-K students with their reading. For every Pre-K student, having Ms. Marcus read to them during their “Morning Circle” time is certainly the best part of their day. She is without a doubt an integral part of the school community at PS 198!
Brittany and Paulette Chevannes, PS 30 in the Bronx; nominated by Ana Vasquez, Parent Coordinator.
The Chevannes are a mother and daughter team volunteering in the South Bronx community. Together they help support the students of PS 30 by attending workshops and keeping the parents informed and involved with their children’s education. They are also quite artistic, aiding with the annual tree lighting and decorating themed bulletin boards in the hallways. Not only do they assist during the school week but they also give up their Saturdays to further enrich the students’ lives. Remarkably, Paulette has been volunteering for twenty-six years, before Brittany was even born. In recent years, Brittany has joined her mother in helping out at PS 30, making this mother-daughter team a true inspiration to volunteers everywhere!
JoAnn Harrell, PS 170 in Brooklyn; nominated by Abigail Figueroa, Parent Coordinator.
For the past nine years, Ms. Harrell has been tutoring the kindergarten and first grade students of PS 170 with great enthusiasm. She constantly shows a willingness to help the school achieve their goals and as Abigail Figueroa, the Parent Coordinator at PS 170, explained, “[she shows] a real concern for the students she tutors and those she oversees in the afterschool program.” She also helps out with recruiting efforts by networking with other parents and keeping them involved in school activities. Along with her tutoring duties, Ms. Harrell is very much involved in school activities as PTA President and loves to be part of holiday shows and student performances at the school. We can only hope that Ms. Harrell will continue her volunteer duties with such dedication for the next nine years!
Rosseny Zelaya, PS 65 in Queens; nominated by Pattie Musalin, Parent Coordinator.
Ms. Zelaya is as woman of many talents. Having been a volunteer for eight years, she has greatly impacted the lives of students at PS 65 with her creativity as well as her bilingual skills. When asked to describe Ms. Zelaya, the Parent Coordinator, Pattie Musalin, emphasized that she was “a problem-solver, steady and reliable.” She also wears many hats, including organizing bake sales, creating bulletin boards, and drumming up holiday cheer by distributing presents to students. Another amazing aspect of her volunteer work is that she helps the Parent Coordinator translate all parent communications and workshops into Spanish so that those parents can be better informed about the school and their activities. Keep up the great work Ms. Zelaya!
Carolyn Breidenbach, PS 198 in Manhattan; nominated by Danielle Festa, Parent Coordinator.
Carolyn Breidenbach is part of the fabric that makes up the PS 198 school community. For the past twelve years, Ms. Breidenbach has tutored students in all grade levels and works with them in math, reading, and writing. Ms. Festa, the Parent Coordinator recounts, she once “changed a failing student’s outlook on math and got him to graduate...she never gives up on the students she tutors.” Ms. Breidenbach gives selflessly to PS 198 and when the school needs her most she always rises to the occasion. When PS 198's ballroom dance program was in danger of closing, Ms. Breidenbach helped to get the community involved and to raise the resources needed to sustain the school's program. Ms. Breidenbach is clearly a compassionate and caring Learning Leader.
Sarah Christopher, PS 328 in Brooklyn; nominated by Samone Stroman, Parent Coordinator.
Sarah Christopher’s dedication knows no bounds! For the past five years, Ms. Christopher has been at the school, arriving bright and early, to monitor the security desk, the hallway, and lunchroom to ensure the safety and well-being of the students at PS 328. Ms. Christopher tutors in math and reading and also provides homework help whenever possible. When asked to describe what sets Ms. Christopher apart from other volunteers, Parent Coordinator Stroman remarked, "She epitomizes the word dependability - even when she is absent she brings in a doctor's note when she returns." It is this dedication and commitment that brightens everyone's day at PS 328.
Lisa Johnson-Cooper, PS/MS 183 in Queens; nominated by Jacqueline Stillwell, Parent Coordinator.
Ms. Cooper, considered the “national treasure” of PS 138, has been an active volunteer for seven years. She is exceptional in her ability to mobilize the parent community to support the needs of the students. The founder of the girls and boy scouts at the school, Ms. Cooper volunteers her time facilitating afterschool workshops for both groups allowing students to explore new careers as well as building character and self-esteem. Her deep involvement in the community has been especially helpful following Hurricane Sandy in which she spearheaded a donation drive where she collected backpacks, uniforms, and other needed essentials for those families affected by the storm.
Lizbeth Quinones, PS 97 in the Bronx; nominated by Susan Mozeson, Parent Coordinator.
For the past two years, Ms. Quinones has been helping the students of PS 97 with their reading and language skills. Additionally, she assists in all the PTA meetings, workshops, and school events. Working as a safety agent from 4 PM to midnight, Ms. Quinones still finds time in her schedule to volunteer during the school day. Ms. Mozeson, the Parent Coordinator, describes her as consistently willing to help out with whatever is needed and says that Ms. Quinones is always “well-received by staff, parents and students. Everybody respects and listens to her.” Her amazing commitment makes her a rising star at PS 97.
Louise Barraco, PS 30 in Staten Island; nominated by Kathie Stefanski, Parent Coordinator.
Since joining PS 30 two years ago, Ms. Barraco has been a pillar of strength, helping out five days a week in the school’s lunchroom. Every week, Ms. Barraco supervises a total of 15 lunch periods. If you have ever volunteered in a lunchroom then you will understand the dedication that it takes to accomplish this feat! She assists with transitioning students from the hallways to the lunchroom, aids the students in opening their juice boxes, and oversees the schoolyard, which allows the students to enjoy small group play and activities. In these two years, Ms. Barraco has transitioned into a dedicated “volunteer staff” person says Ms. Stefanski, the Parent Coordinator at PS 30, and is “everything a Learning Leader should be.”
Patricia Carbo-Leon, PS 230 in Brooklyn; nominated by Nadine Myers-Guilloteau, Parent Coordinator.
Ms. Leon has been volunteering at PS 230 for over ten years, tutoring students in English and Math. She has worked tirelessly to enrich the lives of all of her students, especially those who arrive speaking little or no English. Ms. Leon has also worked with many families, helping them to navigate the complex school system by translating in Spanish for teachers and parents. Her devotion and loyalty to the students and families at PS 230 is especially visible given her limited mobility and the school’s lack of accessibility. Ms. Leon, however, volunteers at least twice a week without complaint. Highly respected and appreciated by students, parents, and staff alike, she is a true example of what it means to be dedicated.
Columban Alexander, Academy for College Preparation & Career Exploration in Brooklyn; nominated by Doris Unger, Principal.
"In three words, Mr. Columban is dependable, eager, and hard-working," says Principal Doris Unger. A parent of a current student at the Academy for College Preparation, he has provided exceptional support over the past two years directly supporting the school administration, as well as helping in the lunchroom. Every day he arrives ready to help out at the school in any way possible, never refusing an assignment. Like many Learning Leaders volunteers, Mr. Alexander serves as the PA Vice-President and is a member of the School Leadership Team. His enthusiasm and willingness to empower other parents makes him a true asset to the Academy for College Preparation community.
Nazirah El, PS 37 in Queens; nominated by Joan Estick, Parent Coordinator.
Ms. Nazirah El, known to her colleagues as “Nana”, takes up her post at PS 37 every day at 7:15 AM and is never absent or late. Regarded as the Matriarch of the school, Nana exemplifies compassion as she greets the students each morning by name. As the day progresses, Nana continues to provide support where needed. Whether it is getting the cafeteria ready for lunch or tutoring students, Nana always give 110% to the school community. In addition to her contributions to the students, she is a core member of the PS 37 Sisterhood Round Table and plays a vital role in conducting workshops at the school.
Deidre Hanglow, PS 30 in Staten Island; nominated by Kathie Stefanski, Parent Coordinator.
Ms. Hanglow has been an active volunteer in the kindergarten class at PS 30 for the past three years. She is present every week and assists the students with all subject areas as well as helping the students practice for upcoming class performances. With her pleasant personality and kind heart, Ms. Hanglow “puts a smile on the face of the teachers and children everyday ” says Parent Coordinator, Kathie Stefanski. "She is a well-respected colleague winning the hearts of all her students and teachers.”
Mariama Sillah, CS 300 in the Bronx; nominated by Jean-Marie Blair, Parent Coordinator
A graduate of CS 300, Ms. Sillah has been donating her time to the next generation of students for the past two years. Although a busy medical student, she has made the time to be a very active Learning Leader and mentor in the school. Ms. Sillah currently volunteers in a kindergarten classroom, working closely with both the teacher and students. She also works with the school’s SISTAH (Sisters Inspiring Sisters to Achieve Higher) program, where she mentors 4th and 5th graders and assists them with after school performances. “Ms. Sillah goes above and beyond,” says Parent Coordinator, Ms. Blair, “She is always ready and willing, offering assistance to whomever, whenever and wherever needed.”
Jane & Robert Levy, PS 101 in Queens; nominated by Randy St. Germain, Parent Coordinator
The Levy’s are a retired couple from the Forest Hills community and both Jane and Robert have been actively volunteering at their neighborhood school since 1982. They give freely of their time and are willing to help out whenever they are needed. Always conscientious workers, they are sure to brighten the day of all the students they work with. Mrs. Levy is a graduate of PS 101 herself, so it’s wonderful that she has chosen to come back and work with the current students. And who knows, maybe these volunteers’ story will inspire the next generation of Learning Leaders at PS 101!
Angie Wassif, PS 215 in Brooklyn; nominated by Rosie Sallustio, Parent Coordinator
Ms. Wassif has been working with the students of PS 215 for the past three years, both with tutoring and general support in the classrooms. She also assists in the lunchroom and helps the office staff with administrative duties, easing the load for a busy school. What is most impressive is the fact that Ms. Wassif finds this time in her busy schedule. She has five children of her own, all of whom are very young, but she still is able to find the time to help the students of PS 215. Parent Coordinator, Ms. Sallustio, praises her exceptional volunteer: “Ms. Wassif is a very special lady and I feel honored to nominate her as a Learning Leader of the Month.”
Wilfred Gonzalez, PS 1 in the Bronx; nominated by Angelica Arroyo, Parent Coordinator
Community volunteer, Mr. Gonzalez, has been a dedicated Learning Leader at PS 1 in the Bronx for nearly 10 years. Arriving at the school early in the mornings, he is very flexible and does whatever is asked of him, logging many hours at the school every week. He has taken on the role of Santa at the annual Holiday Fair, taking pictures with the children and distributing gifts to the classes, as well as Clifford the Big Red Dog at the school book fair. Whether or not in costume, Mr. Gonzalez plays a role that all the students enjoy in and out of the classroom. “At this point, I would say that he contributes to anything and does everything to assist anyone,” praises Parent Coordinator, Ms. Arroyo.
Brenda Robertson, PS/IS 298 in Brooklyn; nominated by Joyce Batts, Parent Coordinator
Ms. Robertson has been a truly exceptional volunteer in the halls of PS/IS 298 in Brooklyn. From assisting with parent teacher conferences to helping out the office staff, she provides vital and ongoing support. Over her 7 years with the school, Ms. Robertson has worked with the “Everybody Wins” program to promote literacy and a love of reading with students. Additionally, she plays an intricate role during all parent workshops, working hard to communicate to fellow parents the importance of being in partnership with their child’s school. “Ms. Robertson is a compassionate, caring and kind individual who will put others before herself,” says Ms. Batts, “She is definitely an asset to any organization.”
Alba Beltran, PS 171 in Queens; nominated by Dezorrie Reyes, Parent Coordinator
Mrs. Beltran is a most dedicated parent, volunteering at PS 171 in Queens. Among her many duties over the past 8 years, she is currently working as an in-class assistant for a Kindergarten classroom and has proven to be an invaluable asset, tutoring students in all subject areas and helping them excel. Always striving to do more despite a busy schedule, she still finds time to volunteer in addition to serving her school as the PTA president this year. “She works so hard,” says Parent Coordinator, Ms. Reyes, who nominated her outstanding volunteer, “There is no other more deserving of this recognition.”
Carol Kner, PS 63 in Manhattan; nominated by Martin Perl, ESL Teacher
Over the past 6 years, Ms. Kner has become indispensible to the English Language Learners at PS 63. Every Tuesday morning, she tirelessly comes to the school to read with the students and help them improve their listening, speaking and writing skills. Students are always eager to spend time with her. Often working with students for several years in a row, it is not usual that she is invited to attend their 5th grade graduation. She has the patience, pedagogical knowledge and experience to help the students achieve their goals. “Ms. Kner has been an extremely caring, dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer,” says nominator Mr. Perl, “She is a tremendous asset to our school and we are so fortunate to have her.”
Jacqueline Gardner, PS 166 in Manhattan; nominated by Barbara Mass, LL Volunteer
Ms. Gardner, a parent of three PS 166 graduates, has served in various volunteer capacities at the school for over 15 years. However with the absence of a school library, she became passionate about filling this void and spearheaded an initiative for a full-service library program, open to all students and fully staffed by volunteers. Ms. Gardner recruited these dedicated volunteers who became fully engaged in and committed to restocking the library, organizing books and reading to the students. “The students look forward to library period, especially the story telling portion,” explains nominator and fellow volunteer, Ms. Mass, “This is an unusual and exemplary program.” And we’d like to thank Ms. Gardner for its success!
Maureen Richards, PS 203 in Brooklyn; nominated by Julianna Primo, Parent Coordinator
For the past two years, Ms. Richards has been working diligently with the 1st grade CTT class at PS 203. Her enduring patience makes her wonderful with the children, always ready and willing to help her teachers when needed. Even in her first year as a volunteer, she started working with a 1st grader who couldn’t read and he flourished under her dedicated guidance and assistance. She is truly a teacher and a person who understands children. Nominator, Ms. Primo, praises her deserving volunteer, “She performs miracles, combining learning, self-esteem and confidence. She is a gift to our school.”
Jean Hall, PS 37 in Queens; nominated by Joan Estick, Parent Coordinator
Mrs. Hall began volunteering at PS 37 in support of her grandchildren who have now graduated, but has stayed to selflessly support the school. In the morning, she greets every student at the door with a kind and encouraging word to ensure a positive start to their day. The students and parents she interacts with on a daily basis even now call her Mama! Outside of her time, she also gives of her own resources she refuses to be repaid for. “What makes her this exceptional person is her commitment, consistency, loyalty, energy and willingness to serve,” says nominator Ms. Estick, “She carries out all her duties, through wind, rain or storm – dressed up like an Eskimo if that’s what it takes!”
Renard Mims, CS 134 in the Bronx; nominated by Alison King, Assistant Principal
Mr. Mims arrives early each and every morning, professionally dressed, to welcome students and parents into the building. Assisting in the breakfast program, he counsels students on behavior, the importance of school and respect for themselves and others. While speaking with other parents on a daily basis about volunteering, he has also shared many interesting ideas himself. Mr. Mims initiated a toy drive for the school and, through collaboration with the NYPD, was able to secure a gift for each child grades Pre-K through 3rd. “He has become an integral part of our daily activities and is an asset to our school,” says Ms. King, “He is truly an exceptional volunteer.”
Mariana Colella-Chung, PS 81 in Queens; nominated by Jane Clarino, Parent Coordinator
For the past ten years, Ms. Colella-Chung has made herself available to support the needs of her community school, PS 81. Whether there is a bulletin board that needs to go up or a letter home that needs to be translated, she always gets the job done. In the classroom, she helps with art work, writing, reading and math for both kindergarten and 5th grade students. Working with ESL students is something that Ms. Colella-Chung has a passion for. She is bilingual herself and has tutored many struggling ESL students, helping them learn to read and write. She has also put those skills to good use as a translator for parents who don’t speak English. A true Learning Leader, she has become an invaluable member of the school community.
What the kids say ...
"I never knew as much as I know now. Thank you for volunteering."
"It is a good thing that you volunteer because it comes from your heart."
"I want to thank you for volunteering. You taught my class and me a lot of different art. I want to try to be a tour guide and explain art to parents."
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