04-22-12: Volunteer coordinator wins Award of Merit
04-22-12: Volunteer coordinator wins Award of Merit

A school volunteer for nearly 10 years, Cheryl Vincent knows the importance of making new volunteers feel comfortable and valued at a school building.

That became a key goal of hers last year when she assumed the role of volunteer coordinator at Hunt Elementary School.

Vincent’s dedication to the coordination of 300-plus volunteers at Hunt Elementary has earned her this year’s Award of Merit as the 2012 Volunteer Coordinator of the Year.

The Puyallup School Board presented Vincent with an engraved plaque at its April 9 volunteer recognition event.

“Cheryl is the mastermind behind the success of our volunteer approval process,” said Principal Rebecca Williams. “She knows that by encouraging volunteers to be in our school, she helps another child learn to read, write, and solve complex problems.”

As the volunteer coordinator, Vincent tracks the processing of new volunteer applications. Once approved, she makes sure all volunteers participate in a required training led by Assistant Principal Lisa Rowan, takes their photos for name badges, and submits monthly reports of the total volunteer hours served to the school district’s Human Resources department.

One of her favorite roles, she said, is meeting with volunteers face to face around school to talk about how they are doing and answer their questions.

Vincent gets this opportunity regularly in her role as a school paraeducator, or teacher’s assistant. Her duties include supervising the playground before school, overseeing the bus pick-up zone after school, working in classrooms that need extra help, and leading small-group student reading instruction.

She knows the school volunteers, staff, and children well, having worked as a paraeducator since 2002 and as a school volunteer from 1995 through 2004.

Last month, Vincent chatted before school with volunteer Dina Rawson, a kindergarten parent who is new to volunteering this year.

Rawson volunteers each morning to oversee two lines of kindergarten students as they wait for the morning bell to ring.

She also helps in her daughter’s kindergarten class one day a week and comes in another day to check out books to students from the school’s first-grade mini-library.

Rawson described Vincent as someone who is “happy every morning” with a smile on her face.

“She is wonderful,” Rawson said. “She made me feel welcome from the get-go.”

Hunt Elementary volunteers serve an average of 350 hours combined every month, Vincent said. They are recognized each year during Volunteer Appreciation Week with a before- or after-school get-together on campus.

Vincent planned to create a slideshow for this year’s recognition featuring photos of volunteers helping around the school.

The volunteer coordinator is the mother of two daughters, both of whom attended Hunt Elementary, Stahl Junior High, and graduated from Emerald Ridge High. Her oldest is a senior and her youngest is a freshman at Western Washington University in Bellingham.

When her children were in elementary school, Vincent chaired a variety of PTA committees supporting school activities such as the first-grade mini-library, book fair, and sixth-grade fund-raisers.

She received the school’s top recognition for school volunteers, the Golden Acorn Award, in 2000.

Kindergarten teacher Julie Cushman has known Vincent for 16 years. Vincent was a parent volunteer in Cushman’s class when her oldest daughter was in kindergarten.

“From the first day that I met Cheryl 16 years ago, she has demonstrated an amazing commitment to the students and staff at our school,” Cushman said. “She goes above and beyond what is expected to make things happen.”

The school principal added, “Two traits ring true with Cheryl. She does more than she has to in every aspect of her work, and she does what she says she is going to do. The Hunt community is blessed because of Cheryl Vincent’s commitment to excellence and superb service.”