Keyword for this page: Volunteer


Polk County Public Schools has an outstanding volunteer program. Investing in our schools helps students succeed. To learn more, contact the Department of Public Relations & Strategic Partnerships at (863) 534-0636.

Becoming a Volunteer

The security of our students is a primary concern. Volunteers pay a non refundable fee of $25.00 to cover the cost of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement background check. Payment is made by personal check or money order payable to the Polk County School Board and submitted with a volunteer application at the school site. Check with your school and make sure you are not already approved.

Volunteer Applications

Volunteer Handbook

School Board employees can volunteer too!

How You Can Help!

The Polk Education Foundation has several ways for an individual to help with the many programs they offer. Here is a list of some of the ways you can help.

  • Donate To: Programs, Events, Scholarships
  • Volunteer: AmeriCorps Polk Reads or Take Stock In Children
  • Support through Sponsorship

Great American Teach-In

Community members will visit schools across the District to share how school helped them achieve success, as Polk County Public Schools celebrates the Great American Teach-In. The annual event is held nationwide each year to celebrate American Education Week. To view a flyer about the 2015 Great American Teach-In, click here.


The mentor program brings together positive role models from the community and students who can benefit from one-on-one attention. Students are selected by teachers and guidance counselors. Parents sign a permission form for participation in the program. Students and mentors meet, usually once a week, to work together to improve grades, set goals for improved attendance and behavior or focus on career interests.

Click here for more information.

Take Stock In Children

Take Stock in Children is an award-winning program that provides scholarships, mentors, and hope for a better future to Florida's most deserving low-income, at-risk children. A public-private partnership, this school-based mentoring organization has positively affected the lives of more than 11,000 children since 1995

Click here for more information.

AmeriCorps Polk Reads

AmeriCorps Polk Reads is a grant-funded reading tutoring program in Polk County, Florida. Members provide reading tutoring to more than 425 K-3 students each year while working collaboratively with community agencies to strengthen community ties.

Click here for more information.



2015 Outstanding School Volunteer of the Year Awards Program

2015 Inductees

Kristie Sudduth - Outstanding Youth Volunteer of the YearOutstanding Youth Volunteer of the Year
Elementary level
Kristie Sudduth
Wahneta Elementary

Kristie Sudduth has volunteered for several years at Wahneta Elementary. She readily takes on any task, and never wants anything in return. She has helped stock the food pantry, put away library books, served as decorator and DJ at the fall dance, made popcorn for movie-night fundraisers, swept the cafeteria following events, and continues to look for other ways to help. What is most remarkable is that she does all of this without anyone asking.

Keith Rowland - Adult Volunteer of the YearOutstanding Adult Volunteer of the Year
Elementary level
Keith Rowland
Combee Elementary

Keith Rowland can be seen most days and many weekends volunteering at Combee Elementary. This former firefighter dedicates his time to helping children. He has served as a mentor to third graders and a chaperone on kindergarten field trips. He lends a hand with everything from planting plants and changing the marquee to unpacking and shelving books in the media center after renovations were complete so students could quickly return to checking out books. When he discovered kindergarteners and first graders weren’t tall enough to reach the classroom smartboards for interactive lessons, Mr. Rowland recycled old library shelves into platforms for the students to stand on.

Edward Norwood - Senior Volunteer of the YearOutstanding Senior Volunteer of the Year
Elementary level
Edward Norwood
Highlands Grove Elementary

Edward Norwood is lovingly known as “Gramps” at Highlands Grove Elementary where he is also well known for his work ethic, positive attitude and huge heart. Mr. Norwood has spent the last four years volunteering at the school. In the mornings, he conducts “reading classes” with students, listening to them read aloud and working with them to improve their literacy skills. He also spends time fulfilling any tasks teachers or staff members might need: making copies, filling agendas, taking down bulletin boards, sharpening pencils, shelving books in the media center or even helping students find just the right book to read.

Jacqueline Gonzalez-Vega - Youth Volunteer of the YearOutstanding Youth Volunteer of the Year
Secondary level
Jacqueline Gonzalez-Vega
Mulberry Middle

With a warm genuine smile and innate sense of empathy, Jacqueline Gonzalez-Vega diligently volunteers at Mulberry Middle. She can often be heard engaging in encouraging conversations in both Spanish and English with students and their families. She has assisted with the Migrant Education program as well as other school events and projects. Every week, she helps prepare more than 90 backpacks filled with donated food for families and also delivers these packs along with clothing and other items. She helps students in the after school tutoring program every Tuesday and Thursday.

William Alexander - Adult Volunteer of the YearOutstanding Adult Volunteer of the Year
Secondary level
William Alexander
Jewett Middle Academy Magnet

William Alexander makes an impression on students at Jewett Middle Academy Magnet with his mild manner and emphasis on obtaining a good education. He is always on call to assist staff members and students with anything needed from helping in the cafeteria to selling tickets for sporting events. He is particularly adept at mentoring students and attends parent conferences with these students when requested. He “adopted” a cafeteria table filled with eight students who didn’t mind earning C grades on their report cards. Mr. Alexander met twice a week with the students to discuss strategies to improve their grades and offered them encouragement. They have since made the honor roll and continue to have a connection with their mentor.

Karen Smith - Senior Volunteer of the YearOutstanding Senior Volunteer of the Year
Secondary level
Karen Smith
Winter Haven High

Karen Smith has spent 10 consecutive years volunteering at Winter Haven High. Students know her as “Miss Karen.” Her quilting talents and knowledge have been a valuable asset, and help students learn new techniques and improve upon their skills. One student developed a senior project to create 132 quilts with the help of community volunteers for an orphanage in Bogota, Columbia. This project was made possible through the mentoring and love of quilting that Miss Karen shared with the student.

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

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