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Published on May 15th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


Richland One Announces District Volunteer Award Winners

Pictured Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon (far left) and Board Vice Chairman Vince Ford (far right) presented the award to Drew Wellness staff members Nathaniel Stevens and Jada Hubbard.

Our amazing volunteers did it again! For the fourth year in a row, collectively Richland One volunteers have donated time worth more than one million dollars. This past school year the district’s 4,500 volunteers donated more than 100,000 hours of service to our schools, time valued at more than $2.2 million.

Richland One recognized exceptional school volunteers, partners and School Improvement Councils at a reception and ceremony in their honor on May 7. Volunteers were honored in the following eight categories:

Volunteer of the Year: This award recognizes an individual volunteer mentor, tutor, parent, PTA/PTSO president, SIC chairperson, etc.

2015 Elementary School Volunteer of the Year: Keith Kennedy, Carver-Lyon Elementary School

Keith Kennedy won Richland One’s 2015 Elementary School Volunteer of the Year Award. Mr. Kennedy began volunteering at Carver-Lyon Elementary School in 2007 by tutoring and mentoring male students. Currently, he assists the school’s volunteer liaison with the Palmetto Health Lunch Buddies program and the school’s Backpack meal program. Mr. Kennedy also serves as a hall monitor, helps with after-school dismissal and mentors a fourth-grade student.

2015 Middle School Volunteer of the Year: Ruth Smyrl, Hand Middle School

Ruth Smyrl, who has been a mentor at Hand Middle School for the past 11 years, won the 2015 Richland One Middle School Volunteer of the Year Award. Over the years Ms. Smyrl has officially mentored six students, but she has impacted countless others. She makes a concerted effort to learn about her mentees and their families. At the beginning of each new school year, she works tirelessly to meet the needs of students and families by providing everything from clothes to school supplies.

2015 High School Volunteer of the Year: Calvernetta Williams, C.A. Johnson High School

After 41 years of teaching, retired physics teacher Calvernetta Williams continued to serve Richland One as a substitute teacher at C.A. Johnson High School. When she reached her pay limit as a retired teacher, she requested to become a volunteer and teach without pay for nearly six weeks. The physics teacher she was substituting for was out on maternity leave and Mrs. Williams knew it would be difficult to find another teacher in the middle of a semester to teach anatomy, honors physics and college prep physics classes. Because of her sacrificial spirit, Mrs. Williams was named Richland One’s 2015 High School Volunteer of the Year.

2015 Special School and Centers Volunteer of the Year: Sharon Ruley, Adult Education

Sharon Ruley has been volunteering at the Richland One Adult Education English as a Second Language Program (ESL) three to four days a week for two years. She works in small groups or one-on-one with struggling students and often stays after class to provide extra tutoring. Her service allows more students to receive individualized instruction and attention.  On May 7 she was recognized as Richland One’s 2015 Special Schools and Centers Volunteer of the Year.

Partner of the Year awards: These awards recognize business or community groups that have made significant contributions to schools.

2015 Elementary School Partner of the Year: Shandon Baptist Church, Meadowfield Elementary School

Shandon Baptist Church won Richland One’s 2015 Elementary School Partner of the Year Award. In addition to helping with events at Meadowfield Elementary School, volunteers from Shandon Baptist Church serve as reading buddies and tutors and help lead the after-school program known as the Good News Club. They also have painted hallways, repaired and upgraded portables, refurbished the courtyard and assisted in landscaping the school property to create a welcoming learning environment for students and staff.

2015 Middle School Partner of the Year: Achieve Columbia, Hand Middle School

Achieve Columbia won the 2015 Richland One Middle School Partner of the Year Award. Achieve Columbia provides mentoring, tutoring and counseling to students at Hand Middle School. Volunteers work with selected students from their eighth-grade year at Hand through graduation from Dreher High School. The team’s goal is to provide long-term support to reduce barriers to education and to provide needed resources. In addition to academic support, they accompany students to various restaurants and cultural activities and provide friendship and encouragement.

2015 High School Partner of the Year: Cummins Atlantic, Heyward Career and Technology Center

Cummins Atlantic won the 2015 Richland One High School Partner of the Year Award. The partnership between Richland One and Cummins began before the opening of the Navistar Diesel Technology Program at Heyward Career and Technology Center in 2012. Cummins has provided mentors, assisted in the donation of equipment and parts and helped monitor the annual hands-on diesel testing program. Their mentorship and expertise have provided students with the skills and training they’ll need as they prepare for careers in the diesel industry.

Superintendent’s Partner of the Year Award: This award honors a partner that has impacted students district-wide.

2015 Superintendent’s Partner of the Year Recipient: The City of Columbia Drew Wellness Center

The City of Columbia’s Drew Wellness Center won the 2015 Superintendent’s Partner of the Year Award. More than 1,600 Richland One second-grade students receive water safety and swim lessons annually at the Drew Wellness Center. This program, which began nine years ago to combat the alarming childhood drowning statistics in Richland County, offers district second-graders seven to eight days of water safety and swim lessons for 30 minutes each day. Usage of the Drew Wellness Center is provided through the district’s partnership with the City of Columbia.



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