VCS Selects Outstanding School Volunteers

Volunteer News

DELAND – In celebration of Florida School Volunteer Appreciation Month, Volusia County Schools is proud to announce the district’s 2021-2022 Outstanding School Volunteer Award winners and Mentor of the Year.

Each school had the opportunity to nominate volunteers in the categories of youth, adult, senior, and mentor. The nominations were ranked by a district committee to select the district-level winners in each category. This is the second year a Mentor of the Year award has been presented. The winners received their awards during surprise visits at their schools.

Outstanding School Volunteer Award in the youth category: Emma Crouse is a senior at New Smyrna Beach High who began volunteering at Indian River Elementary nine years ago as a fourth grader. When she went on to middle and high school, she came back each year to volunteer at events, such as the Book Fair, STEM Night, 5K, Spring Carnival, etc. For several years, she has dedicated herself as “Ires,” the Indian River manatee mascot. As the school’s mascot she has attended every school event, as well as community events. Emma has also dedicated her time as the cheer/spirit team assistant, where she organizes practices, creates team building exercises, directs performances, and makes cheer videos. She has become a mentor and role model to many girls at the school. This year she will be graduating but is sure to volunteer and serve her community wherever she may go.

Indian River YOUTH Emma Crouse

Outstanding School Volunteer Award in the adult category: Shanie Stout serves as the PTSA president at Creekside Middle. During the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years, COVID presented an unusually difficult way to fundraise for schools. Through the PTSA, Mrs. Stout and fellow volunteers participated in fundraising efforts, such as Creekside’s annual online auction, which raised over $5,900 for the 21-22 school year. Creekside’s PTSA members oversaw the investment of more than $15,000 into classrooms, student enrichment, and teacher mini-grants. The PTSA partners with the school’s Student Government Association and the Go Green Club, helping the students raise needed funds and make an impact on their community in a positive way. Shanie also enjoys the opportunity to directly help teachers and show appreciation to the school faculty and staff through a variety of appreciation activities. Shanie Stout is always the first to say that her work is a team effort and does not want the spotlight on her alone.

Through the PTSA, Mrs. Stout has purchased educational software for the entire math department, learning materials for a variety of classrooms, books for libraries, a 3D printer for the science department, support for our media center, culinary programs, agriculture / FFA clubs, and the Backpack Brigade for our families that are food deprived. Our PTSA also funds the 8th grade Honors Banquet, Crazy 8’s year-end celebration, WEB events, Red Ribbon Week and most recently purchased yoga mats for our PE classes. All of the above initiatives enhance student learning by positively rewarding students for good behavior and attendance.

Creekside ADULT Shanie Stout

Outstanding School Volunteer Award in the senior category: Cynthia Miller began volunteering at Spruce Creek Elementary in her grandchild’s classroom in 2013 and never left! She is affectionately called Cynny, but the students call her “Mimi.” Cynny does whatever needs to be done and also works with the other 2nd grade teachers in the four-classroom “pod.” The students know she is consistently there for them.

Cynny has volunteered for nine years, but also volunteered when her children attended Spruce Creek Elementary. She is in the classroom 4-5 days a week and spends the entire day. This year she has logged over 420 hours and assisted 80 second grade students. One student with severe behavioral issues has formed a special bond with her. Once when Cynny was out sick, the student asked where she was and said he missed his “best friend.” His behavior has significantly improved due to this connection. Cynny is an indispensable volunteer.

Spruce Creek Elementary SENIOR Volunteer

Mentor of the Year: Steve Miller, a former teacher, coach and principal from the Ohio school system, has served as a mentor to nine students over the last eight years at Chisholm Elementary. He is never discouraged by a challenging student and offers to mentor more than a few. This year, he mentors two 4th grade students. He challenges them to do their best and encourages them to be better. One of the students asked Mr. Miller to see him twice a week and he always looks forward to their individual time together. Mr. Miller also counsels mentors who are new to the program, sharing his enthusiasm and expertise. He is a man of character with a calm and confident manner. Chisholm Elementary students are fortunate to have the benefit of his mentoring.

Chisholm MENTOR Steve Miller

For more information on volunteering with Volusia County Schools, contact Nancy Wait, Facilitator for Volunteers/Partnerships Programs, at 386-255-6475, extension 38381.