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SBOE honors 2018 Heroes for Children

Fifteen volunteers who have collectively donated 223 years of service to Texas public schools will receive the Heroes for Children award Sept. 14 from the State Board of Education (SBOE).

One outstanding school volunteer is selected from each board district. The SBOE will recognize the honorees in a ceremony at 9 a.m. in Room 1-104 of the William B. Travis State Office Building, 1701 N. Congress Ave., in Austin. The board meeting and award ceremony will be broadcast online.

Each hero will receive an individual plaque recognizing his or her service, a copy of the resolution scheduled for board approval, and photographs commemorating the ceremony. Each hero’s name will also be engraved on a plaque that is permanently displayed at the Texas Education Agency. The SBOE has now recognized 450 Texans with this award since the program was created in 1994.

“At this meeting, the board is scheduled to adopt a new Long-Range Plan for Public Education. One of the goals of this plan is to increase family involvement with the schools. We couldn’t have better examples of people who stay actively involved with their schools, often long after their own children and grandchildren have graduated,” said SBOE Chair Donna Bahorich.

“We are in awe of their commitment and are so grateful for the assistance the Heroes for Children award recipients are providing,” she said.

Below is a brief description of the volunteer work performed by each recipient.

Rebecca Clawson (El Paso Independent School District – SBOE District 1)

Rebecca Clawson’s nominator says her nickname should be “Superwoman.” It is estimated that Clawson has provided 1,000 hours of volunteer service over the past three years. She was in charge of the yearbook at Lundy Elementary and made sure that every student and every event was in the yearbook. She was the vice president for Parent Teacher Association membership, organized family movie nights, ran the “Boots and Bling” silent auction and dinner dance; hosted teacher luncheons, and drove Hornedo Middle School orchestra students and their instruments to competitions, just to name a few of her volunteer activities.

Mirthala Vazquez (La Joya ISD – SBOE District 2)

Mirthala Vazquez has been a school volunteer for seven years. She is recognized as a strong advocate, leader and supporter of La Joya ISD and the Palmview area. She serves on the superintendent’s parent roundtable and the district site-based decision-making committee, as well as the parent advisory committees at the middle school and high school levels. Vazquez also serves on the school health advisory council. She has become an important liaison between the schools and parents.

Elvia Olivarez (La Joya ISD – SBOE District 3)

Elvia Olivarez has volunteered in La Joya ISD for 12 years. She has found volunteering to be a joyful experience. Olivarez likes creating special school events, such as a Hollywood-themed middle school mini prom, making homecoming mums for student council nominees, and raising funds for the football and wrestling teams. She also serves on the district advisory committee and roundtable committee. She is president of the parental advisory committee.

Aidaded “Ida” Rocha (Galena Park ISD – SBOE District 4)

So many people came to Aidaded “Ida” Rocha for information about Galena Park schools and youth events that she created “Ida’s 411” Facebook page. Many parents rely on her information. She also puts information into action. After Hurricane Harvey devastated the area a year ago, Rocha created an “Adopt a Child” initiative, which coordinates with a social worker to help students whose families are facing financial hardship. Without knowing the identity of the students, the group provides whatever the students need such as clothes, shoes, glasses, and registration fees for activities.

Michael Deming (Boerne ISD – SBOE District 5)

When Michael Deming retired from the Boy Scouts of America, he didn’t stop working with young people. When he moved to Boerne a decade ago, he called the nearest elementary and volunteered. He has helped children there with their reading and math skills for about five years. He also assists one of the Life Skills inclusion teachers. Deming became the districts’ first mentor matched with a student. He worked with this young man for five years and has now had two additional mentees. He also helps the district recruit more male mentors.

Lynne Dozier (Klein ISD – SBOE District 6)

Lynne Dozier became a school volunteer with the Klein Education Foundation within weeks after retiring from a 30-year teaching career. She now serves as the head of the foundation’s grant writing committee. Dozier simplified the grant application and conducts grant writing workshops. Once decisions have been made about who will receive the grants, Dozier rides the “Celebration Express,” which is a big yellow school bus, to deliver the grant checks. Dozier also coordinates a mentoring partnership between her church and a Klein elementary school.

David Sincere (Fort Bend ISD – SBOE District 7)

David Sincere has volunteered for 20 years in various Fort Bend ISD schools. When Sincere was a boy and his family faced adversity, members of a neighboring church came to the family’s aid, providing groceries and a birthday cake for him. These acts of kindness sparked his own commitment to volunteering. Sincere has mentored students, sponsored campus clubs, hosted community forums, served on the district’s Board Leadership Academy, facilitated Trauma Informed Care training and created a nonprofit called Advocacy Now Institute to inspire others to give back.

Laura Clarke (Humble ISD – SBOE District 8)

Laura Clarke, a Parent Teacher Association leader, has organized many projects at multiple schools during her 18 years of volunteer activity in Humble ISD. She organized a book drive, which collected more than 3,000 books for nine Title I schools. When she learned that many children could not afford nice “Sunday best” clothes to wear to the Manners Luncheon in which fifth graders learn proper table manners and etiquette, Clark organized the Children’s Traveling Closet, which is going strong and is now in its 10th year.

Jennifer Harris (Pine Tree ISD – SBOE District 9)

Jennifer Harris saves lives through her volunteer work. Five years ago, she asked a local hospital to help her start a heart scan event to identify potentially hazardous heart conditions. The Play It Safe East Texas program has found at least one student athlete with a hidden heart condition each year. Harris has been active in numerous other volunteer activities, including serving as president of the Pine Tree Education Foundation. The foundation has awarded more than $217,000 in grants and endowments to support district projects and professional development since 2004.

Russel Richter (Thrall ISD – SBOE District 10)

Russel Richter has volunteered in Thrall ISD for 30 years. He has packed up classrooms, unpacked library materials, built flower beds, built baseball dugouts and removed debris from district property. A paramedic, Richter also convinced the Thrall Fire Department to attend all home football games so that they are on hand in case someone is injured. Richter serves on the district’s School Health Advisory Committee, has presented at college and career days, and has taught lessons about heart health.

Marcos Braz (Azle ISD – SBOE District 11)

Marcos Braz, an engineer, knows that there are plenty of jobs in the industrial refrigeration area but there are not always enough skilled workers. He approached Azle ISD officials about training high school students in advanced physics as it related to refrigeration. He donated all the equipment needed for the refrigeration program and teaches a class free of charge. Now Azle ISD has the only program in the U.S. that is training high school students in the natural refrigeration industry. Six students have already received the Certified Assistant Refrigeration Operator certification.

Marnie Glaser (Dallas ISD – SBOE District 12)

Marnie Glaser worked with a new principal to turn her children’s Dallas elementary school into a child-centered environment with a strong literacy culture. Whether it was painting a mural herself by the school’s front door or creating an outdoor science courtyard complete with koi pond, a flower garden and pergola, she wanted the school to be a sweet, happy place for children. But it’s the literacy programs that really touch Glaser’s heart. She spearheaded an effort to launch the TREAD or Travel the World Through Reading program, which is based on the accelerated reading mode. She also helped create an “Around the World” theme for the library and café.

Rosalinda Martinez (Fort Worth ISD – SBOE District 13)

Rosalinda Martinez has served as a Parent Teacher Organization or PTO treasurer, secretary, vice president and president. She has created two Parent Teacher Association organizations on two campuses. Due to her leadership skills, she’s been appointed to the Fort Worth ISD Citizens Oversight Committee, the district advisory committee, and the site-based decision-making committee on two campuses. Perhaps her most significant contribution has come on the citizens oversight committee, which works to maintain the accountability and integrity of bond projects. Her due diligence helped the district maintain $13 million in funding to build a cutting-edge campus to replace a 1970s-era underground school.

John Gallen (Copperas Cove ISD – SBOE District 14)

John Gallen is a retired educator who still comes to school and educates children. He says, “it is a privilege to continue to educate and mentor children.” Gallen, who has been a volunteer for 26 years, mentors students, helps students with their reading, and raises funds to provide free books to children. He also has tutored, judged, and emceed contests for DECA and the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) organizations. Gallen serves on a number of boards including the district and campus site-based decision-making committee.

Sheryl Meek (Spearman ISD – SBOE District 15)

For more than half a century, Sheryl Meek has been an accompanist for choir and band events in Spearman ISD. She’s an experienced hand at accompanying students in UIL competitions. Mrs. Meek also plays the piano at baccalaureate and graduation ceremonies. In more recent years, she helped found the “Read with a Buddy” program. This is an after-school program in which students in first and second grade meet once a week to read with an adult mentor. Not only is she an active participant but she recruits other adults to help with the program too. She was also involved with the formation and implementation of the Snack Pack 4 Kids program that prevents childhood hunger by providing students with food for the weekends.

Photographs of the Heroes and the awards ceremony will be posted on the board’s social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.