HISD recognizes 2015’s top volunteers for their ‘Work of Heart’

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The Houston Independent School District honored its top volunteers during the annual Volunteers in Public Schools Recognition and Awards Ceremony held Thursday afternoon.

Each year, the Volunteers in Public Schools program — more commonly referred to as VIPS —enlists thousands of parents and community members who are willing to dedicate their time to support HISD students and their academic achievement. Members help in libraries, media centers, clinics and school offices, serving as tutors, mentors, teacher partners, speakers, security patrols, chaperones, interpreters, and even cafeteria monitors.

First launched in 1970, VIPS now has more than 30,000 volunteers district-wide who have dedicated countless hours to schools, programs, and events across Houston.

This year’s award recipients are:

Jean Davis Myers Award: Jim Wilson, volunteer at Benavidez ES, Askew ES

Receiving the highest recognition was Jim Wilson, who received the Jean Davis Myers Award. Wilson has developed numerous programs and activities that promote student academic achievement in HISD. In addition to recruiting more than 100 volunteers to help tutor students at two HISD elementary schools, Wilson also has worked tirelessly to identify needs within the schools and coordinate with volunteers who can meet them.

Charles Harding Senior Award: Joaquin Alejandro, volunteer at Robinson ES, R.P. Harris ES

Joaquin Alejandro, winner of the Charles Harding Senior Award, has put in 10 years of volunteer service at two HISD elementary schools – Robinson and R.P. Harris. Since retiring, Alejandro visits Robinson daily to read to students and tutor them on developmental concepts. He also donates his time to chaperoning field trips, assisting in the cafeteria, and monitoring students during work-station time to allow teachers additional preparation time.

Parent Partner Award: Cara Davis, volunteer at Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan

This year’s Parent Partner Award recipient, Cara Davis, has shown her commitment to student success through countless hours of creating, editing, and designing the monthly newsletter for Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan. Because Davis volunteers through an ExxonMobil program, the school receives matching funds from that company for her volunteer activities. Saturdays and several afternoons during the week, Davis can be found tutoring students in math, and she actively recruits other parents to join her.

Youth Volunteer Award: Hava Schultz, volunteer at Bellaire HS, Condit ES

As the Youth Volunteer Award recipient, Hava Schultz is no stranger to volunteer work. A senior at Bellaire High School, Schultz focuses first on her studies, but dedicates all her free time to helping others. Schultz has logged more than 200 volunteer hours in the Bellaire College Center, and almost 300 hours at Condit Elementary School, where she tutors students in math, science, and writing. In addition to her volunteer work with community organizations such as Loaves of Love, Schultz also tutors National Honor Society students. She also launched the Kindness Club at Bellaire.

For more information about VIPS or to volunteer, go to www.houstonisd.org/VIPS.