Outstaning School Volunteer of the Year Awards Logo
The gift of time is precious, and volunteers are truly generous when it comes to investing this valuable resource in our schools and with our students.

Students, faculty and district staff members came together May 17, 2016 to say thank you and celebrate during the annual Outstanding School Volunteer of the Year Awards Program.

This award ceremony acknowledges the crucial role school volunteers play in students’ lives and how they enrich our schools with their selfless dedication.

Awards are bestowed at the elementary and secondary level in the following categories: “Outstanding Adult Volunteer of the Year,” “Outstanding Youth Volunteer of the Year” and “Outstanding Senior Volunteer of the Year.” These winners are selected from among more than 100 people named “Volunteers of the Year” at their respective schools.


Volunteer of the Year Event Program View the 2016
Volunteer of the Year
Event Program
Volunteer of the Year Photo Gallery View the 2016
Volunteer of the Year Photo Gallery

2016 Elementary Level Award Winners

James Watkins - Outstanding Youth Volunteer of the Year

James Watkins
Horizons Elementary
Outstanding Youth Volunteer of the Year

Stop by Horizons Elementary any day of the week and you will find James Watkins hard at work. Whether escorting students to class or providing one-on-one tutoring in math, James makes each child he interacts with feel special and supported. James is hearing impaired, and works closely with hearing impaired students to help them adjust and learn in a positive environment. He is a blessing to the students and staff of Horizons Elementary.

Laron Adams - Outstanding Adult Volunteer of the Year

Laron Adams
Garner Elementary
Outstanding Adult Volunteer of the Year

Laron Adams’ motto is “Together we move,” and he brings it to life every day at Garner Elementary. Laron started the Strong Father Mentoring Program in 2012, and a large portion of his week is spent mentoring young men in the 4th and 5th grades. These students look forward to his guidance every day and have shown marked improvements in their behavior, as well as on standardized tests. In the past five years, Laron has served as the Headstart Council Chair and SAC Committee Chair at Garner Elementary while also leading other community organizations. His dedication to supporting Garner Elementary perfectly exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism.

Cynthia Simmerman - Outstanding Senior Volunteer of the Year

Cynthia Zimmerman
Philip O’Brien Elementary
Outstanding Senior Volunteer of the Year

Cynthia Zimmerman’s thoughtfulness and creativity have made Philip O’Brien Elementary a more beautiful and fun place to learn. Cynthia volunteers in the media center nearly every day, where she gives children personalized attention and decorates with handmade crafts. She accomplishes any task given to her, whether great or small, and frequently goes the extra mile by taking work home with her. Cynthia also assists with school events like Family Academic Night and the school walk-a-thon.

2016 Secondary Level Award Winners

Stephanie Smith - Outstanding Adult Volunteer of the Year

Stephanie Smith
George Jenkins High
Outstanding Adult Volunteer of the Year

Stephanie Smith has tirelessly volunteered with the George Jenkins High marching band for years, logging approximately 1,000 volunteer hours this year alone. She has demonstrated her leadership skills and organization as a board member and president of the booster organization. Stephanie’s support improves not only the fine arts programs at George Jenkins, but the rest of the student body and community as well.

Kevin Dunn - Outstanding Senior Volunteer of the Year

Kevin Dunn
Auburndale High
Outstanding Senior Volunteer of the Year

Kevin Dunn’s impact on student achievement at Auburndale High cannot be overstated. Kevin dedicates approximately 25 hours each week to preparing students for college and coaching them to be productive citizens after high school. He tutors students as they practice for ACT, SAT and AP testing, providing valuable insights that will bolster their scores and college applications. He also inspires students to get involved in their community through organizations such as the Hamptons Educational Foundation and Chamber Youth Leadership program.

2016 Honorees

Elementary School Volunteer
Alta Vista Elementary  Dyan Romano
Alturas Elementary Rosa Cavazos
Auburndale Central Elementary Judy Lott
Babson Park Elementary Suzanne Fletcher
Bartow Elementary Academy Phyllis King
Ben Hill Griffin Elementary Christina Ellis
Bethune Academy Ryane Redgrave
Blake Academy Orpha Gonzalez
Boswell Elementary Ruby Jean Giles
Brigham Academy Lori Griffin
Caldwell Elementary Connie Jacobs
Carlton Palmore Elementary Paul Parker
Chain of Lakes Elementary Melissa Morrison
Churchwell Elementary Rhonda Leones
Cleveland Court Elementary Emily Cox
Combee Elementary Doris Parker
Crystal Lake Elementary Joelle Cockrell
Davenport School of the Arts Charlene Stamper
Dixieland Elementary Yvonne Van Roo
Dr. N.E. Roberts Elementary Judith Fowler
Dundee Elementary Academy Michelle Williams
Eagle Lake Elementary Jenny Goff
Eastside Elementary Janilet Lebron
Elbert Elementary Brian Reeves
Floral Avenue Elementary Donna Wingard
Frostproof Elementary Richard Cobb
Garden Grove Elementary Mary Sue Burry
Garner Elementary Laron Rodriguez Adams
Gibbons Street Elementary  April Taylor
Griffin Elementary Mary Clarke
Highlands City Elementary Lacey Sherrouse
Highlands Grove Elementary Esther Ott
Horizons Elementary James Watkins
Inwood Elementary Shirley Covarrubias
Janie Howard Wilson Elementary Carolyn Barnhardt
Jesse Keen Elementary Jessica Boyd
Jewett School of the Arts Lenny Wheaton
Kathleen Elementary Jeanette Wright
Kingsford Elementary Jennifer Staggs
Lake Alfred Elementary Connie Barron
Lake Shipp Elementary Debra Cook
Laurel Elementary Nancy Mooney
Lena Vista Elementary Sarita Boyd
Lewis Anna Woodbury Elementary Katherine Albritton
Lincoln Avenue Academy Jil Bevis
Loughman Oaks Elementary Chelsea Carrero
Medulla Elementary Carol Grimsley
North Lakeland Elementary Melissa Shank
Oscar J. Pope Elementary Bryan Cummings
Padgett Elementary Robert Delaney
Palmetto Elementary Stephan Perez
Philip O’Brien Elementary Cynthia Zimmerman
Pinewood Elementary Mary Holman
Polk Avenue Elementary Martha Blair
Polk City Elementary Johanna Cobb
Purcell Elementary  Casey Jones
R. Bruce Wagner Elementary Heather Kessler
Rochelle School of the Arts Nina Hutton
Sandhill Elementary Ladonna Teti
Scott Lake Elementary Linda Tarleton
Sikes Elementary Melissa Shelley
Sleepy Hill Elementary Carlton Pickett
Snively Elementary Susan Dantzler
Socrum Elementary Mikyong Bratton
Southwest Elementary Emily Paul
Spessard Holland Elementary Tiffany Bilbrey
Spook Hill Elementary Stacie L. Gibb
Valleyview Elementary Margarita Alvarado
Wahneta Elementary Jannet Rojas
Wendell Watson Elementary Jennifer Bath
Winston Academy Julie Roberts

Secondary School Volunteer
Auburndale High Kevin Dunn
Bartow High James Thompson
Daniel Jenkins Academy Carol Burdette
Dundee Ridge Middle Academy Dr. Susan Phillips
East Area Adult Schools Stephen Abney
Fort Meade Middle-Senior Lorenzo McCutchen
Frostproof Middle-Senior Rachel Pooley
George Jenkins High Stephanie Smith
Haines City High/IB Racheal Kirkland
Harrison School for the Arts Punam Saxena
Jewett Middle Academy Anita Cox
Kathleen Middle Emily Gray
Lake Alfred-Addair Middle Alysa Nolen
Lake Gibson High Bernard Liebrecht
Lake Gibson Middle Joanna Lewis
Lake Region High Jane Hill
Lakeland High David Dunn
Lakeland Highlands Middle Olivia Bechtol
Lawton Chiles Middle Academy Melissa Alessandroni
McLaughlin Middle Nellie Priola
Mulberry High Larry Rankin
Mulberry Middle Cherise Rose
Ridge Community High Doris McCallister
Sleepy Hill Middle Elana Coulter
Southwest Middle Susan Lynch
Stambaugh Middle Leona Blackmon
Summerlin Academy William Pfaff
Union Academy Vicky Jenkins
West Area Adult School Richard Smith
Winter Haven High William Alexander

The 2016 Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Awards Program was sponsored by The Ledger and MIDFLORIDA Credit Union.

For more information, contact the Department of Public Relations & Strategic Partnerships

2015 Outstanding School Volunteers of the Year

Congratulations to Kristie Sudduth, Keith Rowland, Edward Norwood, Jacqueline Gonzalez-Vega, William Alexander and Karen Smith.

More information about 2015 Honorees »

Want to Volunteer?

The Polk County School District is the eighth largest in Florida with more than 150 school sites and over 100,000 students. With so many schools and students to serve, volunteers are needed to dedicate their valuable time to accomplish important tasks, and help students reach their educational and career goals. For more information about volunteering, visit http://www.polk-fl.net/community/volunteers/ or call 863.534.0636.