ACPS is immensely grateful to the thousands of volunteers who chaperone on field trips, tutor our students, serve as mentors, provide classroom and administrative support, help in the cafeteria, and more throughout the school year.
Last Thursday, ACPS and the School Board celebrated ACPS outstanding volunteers for their commitment and dedication to our students, staff, schools and families.
Individual, group, organization and business volunteers were nominated by ACPS staff throughout the division and the overall winners were chosen by the Office of School, Business and Community Partnerships.
Outstanding Volunteer of the Year at an Elementary School
Many thanks to retired teacher John Perlman. His giving, caring and generous ways enable him to relate easily to students and families across different cultures. Perlman volunteers at Mount Vernon Community School three days a week, where he tutors students who need reading support at Mount Vernon and English Learning students attending Casa Chirilagua after school. He also facilitates family literacy workshops at Mount Vernon Literacy Nights and mentors several students as they transition into middle school and beyond.
Outstanding Volunteer of the Year at a Middle School
Francis C. Hammond Middle School is fortunate to have three amazing volunteers who work together to support and advocate on behalf of some of our highest-need students. Omeima Khidir, Yolanda Carrasco and Mildred Rivera bonded over their shared experience of parenting children with special needs when their children were students at John Adams Elementary School. By the time their children had entered Francis C. Hammond Middle School, they had become educational advocates working on behalf of all students with special needs. For the past nine years, they have been providing resources and information designed to empower students and facilitate opportunities for inclusion. They presented disability/Autism awareness and acceptance assemblies at John Adams for five years, continued at Hammond for the past four years and this year began at Minnie Howard and T.C. Williams. Their work has had a profound impact on the climate and culture of the entire school and student body.
Outstanding Volunteer at T.C. Williams High School
Retired Washington Post journalist Mick Heller is a much-valued volunteer who works with the journalism class that produces the T.C. Williams’ student newspaper, Theogony. Heller has been present for every class this school year, providing encouragement and guidance to the students. He was instrumental in helping Theogony transition to a tabloid format. His real-world perspective and sharing of best practices in journalism have been invaluable in the production of Theogony’s online edition.
Outstanding Division-wide Volunteer
Long-serving volunteer in the ACPS community and a decorated swimming instructor, Carolyn Griglione, almost single-handedly brought a swimming program to our elementary schools. She leveraged her position with national organizations for donations and materials, worked with Chinquapin staff to coordinate services and has given countless hours of her time to instruct and develop the program. Thanks to Griglione, 500 elementary school students will participate this year in the swim skills program that is part of the physical education curriculum in several of our schools.
Outstanding Volunteer Organizations – Elementary Schools
We are immensely grateful to the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, which has helped to imagine, build and grow the Bicycling in the Schools program. These bicycle enthusiasts provide instruction for beginning riders and also teach the students how to make simple repairs to their bikes. This not only aligns with our health and wellness goal, but it makes bicycling accessible to some that might not otherwise have access to a bicycle or a safe space to learn bicycling skills.
Working in eight elementary schools and putting in countless hours, often working the equivalent of a full work-week on the endeavor, these volunteers have never asked for anything in return. Beyond volunteer hours, they have helped to secure more than $100,000 in grant funds for the program and just submitted another grant application to the Virginia Department of Education this month.
Thank you also to the Alexandria Tutoring Consortium (ATC), which has worked with ACPS elementary schools for many years. They help ensure every child in Alexandria can read and succeed. Based on the Book Buddies curriculum, ATC trains cohorts of volunteers who provide individual, one-on-one tutoring to struggling first-grade readers. Though ATC’s Reading Readiness program, volunteers help to meet the needs of kindergarten students who start school without sufficient pre-literacy skills. With their support, many of our kindergarten and first-grade students have learned to read on or above grade level.
Outstanding Volunteer Organization – Secondary Schools
We are grateful for the support of the volunteers who are essential to T.C. Williams’ Titan Robotics club: Alexandra Silberglied, Jim Sample, Lou Fisher and Christina Lytle. Technical mentors Alexandra Silberglied and Jim Sample work in the defense industry—for sponsor Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and the Pentagon— and bring a wealth of engineering skills. Non-technical mentors, Lou Fisher and Christina Lytle, focus on team logistics, organization, procurement and budget and have successfully led the students to raise essential funds necessary to sustain the program. In four short years, Titan Robotics has improved to the point that it missed qualifying for this season’s FIRST World Championships in Detroit by just one match. The rapid growth of Titan Robotics is a direct result of the efforts of these four mentors, without whom the program would not exist.
Outstanding Volunteer Organization – Secondary Schools
T.C. Williams is ever grateful for the T.C. Williams Parent, Student and Teacher Association (PTSA). This team of fabulous volunteers jumps in and helps out wherever and whenever needed. Many thanks to PTSA representatives Beth Simmons, Kay Arndorfer, Merrill Biesada and Eileen Wallace for the countless ways in which they garner support for T.C. students and staff throughout the year. This year the volunteers helped to develop visual support records to help more than 80 students receiving speech-language services with their receptive and expressive language skills. As a result, these T.C. students met their IEP goals for the quarter. That is just one of the many ways in which these volunteers provide valued support to our students, families and school.
Outstanding ACPS Business Volunteer
ACPS extends a hearty thanks to George Demetriades, owner of the Chick-fil-A in Arlington. In addition to donating dinner and dessert for various Cora Kelly family events such as the Fall Harvest Party and the joint Science Night with Mount Vernon, Demetriades has also met with Cora Kelly’s PTA to strategize ways to support school families, including those experiencing homelessness.
Demetriades goes above and beyond for Cora Kelly. In addition to donating the food and dessert for the school’s Habitat Holiday Light Show, he surprised everyone by dressing up as Santa Claus and greeting students and families as they arrived. He has helped to increase parent engagement, promote inclusiveness and raise school spirit.