HISD honors top volunteers at annual VIPS ceremony

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The Houston Independent School District on Thursday recognized the efforts of thousands of volunteers and honored the top volunteers of the year during the annual Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) Recognition and Awards Ceremony.

“We literally could not do this work of educating our children without our volunteers. You are our village,” HISD Board of Education President Rhonda Skillern-Jones said.

HISD’s VIPS program was started in 1970 by longtime HISD educator Jean Davis Myers, who passed away in 2015. Myers served as executive director of VIPS for 20 years and under her leadership, the program became an award-winning national model. Since 1991, the Jean Davis Myers Award for Community Service has been presented annually to an individual or group whose program or volunteer efforts have had a positive impact on student achievement.

The theme of this year’s reception is “Seeds for Success.”

“We are grateful for the seeds of time, effort, and resources that these volunteers sow into our district,” interim superintendent Grenita Lathan said. “On behalf of the entire district, I want to thank every single volunteer for their tireless work to make HISD better.”

Finalists were nominated for awards in four different categories. The winners are below:

  • Altrusa International of Houston received the Jean Davis Myers Volunteer Service Award (the most prestigious award) for the group’s work at Herrera and Almeda elementary schools. Altrusa International is a service organization made up mainly of retired teachers. The organization has worked with HISD for more than 10 years sponsoring family literacy nights, coat and jacket drives, baby showers for young mothers, and more. This year, the group has provided support to teachers, students, and families in HISD affected by Hurricane Harvey.
  • Kenton Cantrell received the Parent Partner of the Year Award. An active volunteer for 15 years, Cantrell serves as a board member of the Bellaire High School PTO, chairman of the homecoming tailgate and dance, organizer of teacher appreciation events, and more. He’s also a member of the teacher grant committee, which has raised more than $400,000 to support teachers.
  • Bellaire High School LULAC received the Youth Volunteer of the Year Award. The 47-member club organized cleanup services for families in the Bellaire community who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The students advertised on social media to find families that needed their help in the immediate aftermath of the storm, spending six to eight hours in each home.
  • Durwin Sharp received the Charles Harding VIPS Senior of the Year. Sharp is a retired engineer from Exxon. He volunteers with the Bellaire High School Robotics Team.

In addition to the ceremony, HISD designated April 16-20 as Volunteers in Public Schools Recognition Week in HISD. To date, HISD has 36,000 active volunteers districtwide who have dedicated countless hours to schools, programs, and events across Houston.

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

For photos from the event, including the winners, go to http://houstonisdphotos.photoshelter.com/gallery/20180419-VIPS-of-the-Year/G0000XzyNowMDd38/3/C0000l8UuDFdnueM