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Ellie Kirby was named the 2012 Volunteer of the Year for Grayson County Public Schools during the school board’s April meeting.
Kirby was one of eight nominees, one for each school, for the award.
Kirby’s nomination came from the selection committee at Grayson Highlands School and the school’s principal Marlin Campbell read aloud the nomination.
Campbell praised Kirby for “filling a void” for the students of Grayson Highlands School. The school does not have any art teachers and Kirby has stepped in and filled that role.
Campbell said Kirby was “an exceptional person in every way” and that she was particularly exceptional in her “unyielding dedication to provide these services for the children day-in and day-out… all year long.”
It is that day-to-day dedication to the kids that makes Kirby so special, he said.
“Everybody loves her… she has such a positive attitude and really contributes to the learning environment at the school,” Campbell added. “Her positive and pleasant attitude plays a big part in providing a positive learning environment [for the students]. It’s a pleasant part of the day to see Mrs. Kirby come in.”
School Division Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Thomas announced the volunteer of the year and noted how important volunteers are to the school system, particularly during the recent budget crisis the school has been in.
“Volunteers make a difference,” Thomas said. “We greatly appreciate everything you do.”
Thomas added that volunteers helped provide children in Grayson County with the greatest future possible. “Volunteers are incredibly important to student achievement. Without volunteers, we would not have the enrichment and enhancement of education that we have.”
Grayson’s Director of Elementary Education Susie Funk helped organize the event and presented each volunteer with a bag of goodies, one of which was a hand painted and designed pot from the Grayson County Arts Department.
Principals from each school took time to recognize the nominee from their school.
Clark Nuckolls, principal of Baywood Elementary, spoke first about his nominee, Kim Shaw.
Nuckolls pointed out that Shaw holds a PTO office and has been a volunteer with the school for three years.
Shaw has done a variety of activities, from organizing a booth at the Baywood Fall Festival to various basket bingos, auctions and so forth.
All proceeds from those activities have helped students go on field trips or bought instructional supplies for the classrooms.
Career and Technical Education Center Principal Karen Blevins was not in attendance, nor were her nominees, Freddie and Evelyn Hall.
Funk took a moment to recognize the Halls, who have continued to give their time freely to the CATE Center post-retirement.
Bill Reavis, principal at Fairview Elementary, was not in attendance, nor was his nominee.
Funk said the nominee from Fairview was Mrs. Cornett, who serves as a substitute teacher at the school and volunteers on most of her free days.
Funk read the nomination which said that Cornett worked “just as hard as those that are paid for their efforts.”
Cornett has taken it upon herself to raise funding so all students could go on a field trip this year free of charge and has also helped put Accelerated Reader books in the hands of each student.
Elizabeth Brown, principal at Fries School introduced her school’s nominee, Joy Jones.
“There’s so much to say, I ran out of room on my piece of paper,” Brown joked. “She does so much for Fries School and before that at Providence.”
Jones is always there and willing to help organize things such as teacher appreciation meals, receptions for graduation and Christmas.
Jones was instrumental in getting the playground equipment for Fries School and even ordered it, set up delivery, found a crew to install it and helped install it herself.
“We just appreciate you so much,” Brown said, noting that Jones was also the PTO president and had been for years.
Bobby Cheeks, principal at the high school, was unable to attend the meeting, but Funk introduced the school’s nominee, Max Lineberry.
Funk said Lineberry had been a volunteer boys basketball coach since 2007 and a tennis coach since 2010.
He is “well liked” and “maintains an excellent rapport with all student athletes, coaches, teachers and administrators.”
The nomination said Lineberry provides an upbeat and positive outlook in all situations and has selflessly given 15-plus hours a week for numerous years.
Lineberry doesn’t have a child or grandchild participating in sports, the nomination stated, noting that he was “giving his time freely with no self motive.”
Independence Elementary’s nominee, Melinda Caldwell, was not present at the meeting. Funk read the nomination, which noted that she was always friendly and helpful at the school and “always working to help the school become a better place for students.” The nomination added that Caldwell displays a “complete dedication to the students and the school” and that her “focus is totally on the children’s needs.”
Doug Turnmire from Independence Middle School was the final nominee from the division. Turnmire is the director of the school’s Backpack Buddies program, which provides snacks to students outside of school time. “It is so beneficial and the magnitude of running this program takes commitment and leadership,” Turnmire’s nomination said.