Each year, the Florida Department of Education sponsors the statewide Outstanding School Volunteer Award competition to recognize the many school volunteers who give of themselves unselfishly to help students and schools. This year, the following individuals have been named Osceola School District's Youth, Adult, and Senior Volunteers of the Year, respectively:
District Youth Volunteer of the Year – Jesus Arroyo (Poinciana High School)
Jesus Arroyo has become an invaluable part of the AVID program. He was an AVID student beginning in middle school, is now in the 11th grade and dually enrolled at Valencia College and Poinciana High School. Although he has a full college course load, he chooses, week-after-week, to show up to Poinciana High at 7 AM every Tuesday and Thursday to volunteer as a cross-age tutor for the AVID elective classes. Being a former AVID student, Jesus has reached out to volunteer, every single week since school began. He impacts all 188 AVID students at Poinciana High, which is an integral part of the school’s improvement plan. Throughout the day he circulates through the AVID classes, providing support for those in upper level science, math and advanced placement (AP) courses. Jesus is a positive role model for the underclassmen and a constant source of positive motivation for his grade level peers. It would be difficult to imagine running the AVID program at Poinciana High without him and he will surely help us reach our goal of becoming an AVID National Demonstration School within the next two school years (of which there are only 10 in the State of Florida). Jesus Arroyo is a pleasure to work with and an inspiration for all students.
District Adult Volunteer of the Year – Laure Dejeant (Celebration K-8)
Brains work better when nutrition is healthy and opportunities to move are included in the student day. Students at Celebration K-8 School have new opportunities for learning and play due to the efforts of Laure Dejeant. Laure has worked diligently to promote a healthy school environment. She won 8 grants, totaling $21,535, to conduct school-based, student health-promoting initiatives and was instrumental in the implementation of the school wellness guidelines and has created healthier celebrations, events, fund raisers and awards. This includes repainting the lunchroom, providing 7 new floor activities for the recess area, an NBA fit clinic, a school-wide subscription to “Adventures in Fitness”, an indoor hydroponic garden, cafeteria equipment, a Wii Console for brain breaks and classroom rewards and Whole Foods & Fresh Market donations. Additionally, she also has 8 more grants that are pending for an additional $17,000. Laure has created a menu of fun and healthy treats with the Cafeteria Manager, she created the Treasure Chest for Healthy Kids and shares information on the “Harvest of the Month” program. In addition to all this, Laure is a member of the SAC, the PTO and Celebration K-8’s Health Advisory Committee.
District Senior Volunteer of the Year – Thomas Bell (Osceola High School)
Thomas Bell has been a fixture at Osceola High since 1995, when he first started volunteering. Many employees at OHS think Coach Bell is an employee because he is at the school every day. He checks on the sports equipment, he checks on his student-players, and he checks with the Athletic Director to see where any help is needed. Coach Bell primarily works with both the football and soccer teams and treats all student-players as if they were his own children. He is a mentor for students and monitors their grades and insists on grades first/sports last. Because of his efforts, his teams usually win the District Academic Awards based on team grade averages. Coach Bell has paid for sports physical fees for students who can’t afford it, and not just for his teams, but for all teams. For many years he manned the grill at home football games and is currently training others to carry on his bbq rib tradition. Last year he postponed a surgery because he had promised one of his students he wouldn’t miss that player’s birthday party. Coach Bell is always about the students. Osceola High has numerous college graduates who return to help him as he has taught each of them to put others first. They all want to pay it forward. The code that Coach Bell lives by is to treat all students with love and respect. The students know he is genuine. He’s a Life Coach more than a Sports Coach. Osceola High has calculated that Coach Bell has volunteered approximately 24,150 hours since 1995. We need more volunteers that truly exemplify what a great volunteer does.
For information about these three outstanding volunteers and their accomplishments, visit www.osceolaschools.net. They will be recognized at the Osceola County School Board meeting on February 7, 2017, located in the Board Room at 817 Bill Beck Blvd. in Kissimmee. They will also represent the district at the state level for Outstanding School Volunteers of the Year.