As part of National Volunteer Month, the annual Partners of the Year event was held to recognize hundreds of inspiring campus volunteers and business partners who donate their time and energy to enrich the education of thousands of NISD students.
This year the awards were fine-tuned and 12 Partners of the Year were selected from each of the campus levels: elementary, middle, high school, and special campuses.
Whether it is a high school student who donates her time to organizing mentoring activities at a local elementary school, a father who donates his time to make sure that students are engaged in safe activities resulting in reduced behavioral issues, to a volunteer who is a true champion of ensuring the community has the food they need, these super volunteers enrich the lives of all NISD students.
District-wide winners were selected from among the campus winners and were individually recognized at a special ceremony and presented awards by Superintendent Dr. John Craft and Board of Trustees.
The 2023 NISD Partners of the Year (elementary school category) are:
Allen Elementary School has had an amazing partnership with the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation this year. The campus had a goal to have a successful Family Fit Night for their families and to show parents different ways to be healthy and exercise together. Che’Vonne Bryan, an Assistant Manager with the Parks & Recreation Dept. met with staff to come up with a plan and work through all the logistical issues. She went out of her way to make sure that this event was a success. This inaugural event was held on Jan. 12 and included the City of San Antonio Mobile Fit Unit which checked BMI’s, weight, and blood pressure readings; and included activities such as Zumba, cardio drumming, family relays, flag, tag, and spike ball. The campus hopes to make this an annual event and that the partnership with the Parks & Rec department will be a long and meaningful one.
Alex Perez’s willingness to give of his time and service has had a tremendous impact on student safety and behavior on campus.
Perez coordinates the WATCH Dogs program at Forester Elementary School. He assists with morning car duty, after school dismissal, and lunch duty. The students really enjoy having him at recess as he organizes games such as four-square. This has been such a popular activity at the fourth and fifth grade recess, and has had a dramatic effect on the behaviors reported at recess. The number of office referrals have dropped drastically. Students line up to play and wait however long it takes to be involved in the game. It has been such an impactful activity that he coordinated an “End of Year Four Square Tournament” with the fifth-grade teachers. Perez is always willing to assist whether in the office or around the campus. He monitors the campus, walks the hallways, checks the doors, and monitors the parking lots - all for the safety of staff and students. His active participation and volunteerism have contributed greatly to the campus.
Please help me congratulate another of our 2023 NISD Partners of the Year, Mr. Alex Perez.
Samyah Smith is a senior at Taft High School and the President of the Taft National Honor Society.
As president, she took the initiative to reach out to Mireles Elementary administration and PTA and formed a partnership to establish a volunteer initiative for her and her fellow NHS members.
For example, she coordinated with the campus for NHS students to volunteer at the annual JAMBoree, where students helped set up, worked the games at the event, and cleaned up at the end. She also thought outside of the box to help her fellow NHS students meet their volunteer hours for the year by volunteering during early dismissal at Mireles. The high school students also play board games with students who have to stay after school, and needless to say, the students love playing games with their older peers. She is a driven, dedicated student, and a natural leader.
Pastor Lucas Barrientes and Mosaic Church have gone above and beyond for both Linton and Martin elementary schools for the past seven and four years respectively.
Coming out of the pandemic, schools across the country have been experiencing lower attendance rates. Mosaic purchased bikes for students to help increase attendance with a positive result. In fact, in the case of Martin Elementary, attendance has increased by three percent. Mosaic has also collected and distributed backpacks to students and given free haircuts. After a discussion with a principal about the benefits of having a positive father presence in schools and the long-lasting effects on student success, Pastor Barrientes secured funding for a Father/Daughter dance. Mosaic catered the event, decorated the cafeteria, brought in a DJ and led the fathers and daughters through heartwarming activities. Mosaic has also partnered with the Children Hunger Fund to deliver food to several of the schools’ families.
In addition, knowing that stress levels for teachers are at an all-time high, members of the Mosaic congregation have brought in and served lunch to teachers on several occasions.
The pandemic has shaken communities to its core but it has taken a profound effect on high economically disadvantaged communities. Mosaic’s response was to charge into areas that were severely affected and help families with social services like providing Via passes to help those who needed transportation, they landscaped partial neighborhoods to bring a sense of pride back to the community. They have remodeled dilapidated homes and have installed ADA accessible ramps in homes with disabled family members. They’ve helped to establish gardens at both schools and have participated in school festivals. They certainly model the heart of a servant leader.
The 2023 NISD Partners of the Year (middle school category) are:
Amanda Bishop has welcomed and created an opportunity for Pat Neff Middle School students to learn the value of servant leadership throughout a partnership with her and the Salvation Army. She welcomes students and serves as a mentor for them as they focus on filling Christmas wishes every year for the Salvation Army's Angel Tree.
When the campus put out a request for assistance for families in need, Bishop stepped in and on behalf of the Salvation Army, provided meals so over 50 Neff families would not go without over the holiday season.
She attends and speaks with Neff families at their annual Community Resource Fair. She has also provided the campus opportunities to feel included in the Salvation Army family, honoring them at the annual partner breakfast and allowing them to be a part of charity events. She is a model of servant leadership.
Katie Cox is the Hobby MS PTA president who reached out and asked "how else can we help kids?" She partnered with the campus student success facilitator and organized a schedule of four PTA members assisting in academic and motivational mentoring twice a week. The group has worked with students in small group settings on Tuesdays and Thursdays during Hobby’s intervention period. Over the course of this year, they have focused on academics by motivating students to complete middle school course protection while also providing guidance to students around decision making, goal setting, and interests & hobbies. Their work has made an impact on approximately 80 students at Hobby this school year.
Volunteer April Rhines has made a great difference and impact in serving students, families, school team and the Rudder MS community by:
- Hosting a monthly teacher/staff breakfast on campus
- Supporting students & families during the holidays by supplying gift cards to purchase shoes, clothing and backpacks.
- Donating clothing items for students & families, including dresses for students for the school dances
- Volunteering to welcome back the school team during professional development week with a luncheon & community engagement
- Donating 300+ backpacks stuffed with school supplies at the beginning of the school year
In addition to these and more, Rhines has connected students and families to the appropriate social support services needed throughout the school year. April Rhines, and other Grace Point Church volunteers, give of their time year-round and have made a long-term impact on the Rudder Middle School community for more than six years.
The 2023 NISD Partners of the Year (high school category) are:
Krista and Michael Burroughs
There are not quite enough words to describe the amount of selfless love and time that Krista and Michael Burroughs have poured into the Lariettes organization at Brandeis High School. Just listing the things that they have done for the organization this past year would include chaperoning all 12 football games and all 12 pep rallies, chaperoning all four dance competitions, organizing the Pony Camp kids clinic, volunteering at the Bronco Spirit Spectacular, acting as head "team parents" responsible for keeping all other parents in the loop for events, serving as lead chaperones at the Battle of Flowers parade, and being present at every team event and appearance. Every single one! However, even this long list of events does not scratch the surface of the impact that the Burroughs family has had on the Brandeis Lariettes organization.
The Burroughs are the most common smiles that the dancers look forward to seeing at their events. There is a reason that the dancers call them “Mom and Dad.” When there are dancers whose parents cannot attend events, they always know that “Mom and Dad Burroughs” will be cheering for them by name up in the stands. The Burroughs truly bleed orange and wear “Broncos” proudly across their chests and "Maddie's Parents" on their back.
In the words of the Brandeis staff member who nominated them, “We cannot thank Krista and Michael enough for the impact they have made on Lariettes and on our dancers. They will forever hold a special place in our hearts and in the history of our program’s success.”
The Sotomayor High School family has been blessed with the opportunity to work with Sidney Aguirre, a generous Community Engagement Specialist from Cavender Cares. They have supported Sotomayor HS and Northside ISD, time after time.
The group provided funding that allowed Sotomayor HS athletes to participate in the Servant Leadership Summit, where they were able to listen to guest speakers and develop leadership skills in hands-on leadership lessons. Servant Leadership is a cornerstone of the Sotomayor athletics philosophy.
Aguirre also financially supported the campus’ two-day retreat where the Sotomayor mission statement was crafted and leadership direction was discussed, and completely funded outreach efforts to incoming middle school students. This included buying all students a spirit shirt - two years in a row.
As the year started, Sidney Aguirre and Cavender Cares supported new Sotomayor High School teachers with a breakfast and a luncheon from Rudy’s Barbecue. Teachers were delighted with the lunch and were excited to start the year.
Cavender Cares has also contributed to NISD by partnering with Athletics to host a vehicle giveaway for a deserving veteran during the military appreciation game each year.
Additionally, Cavender Cares has generously donated over $20,000 to the Gerlach Stock Show over the past two years! Aguirre also provided over $12,000 to hard working students at the 2023 Gerlach Stock Show.
She has established partnerships with the CTE programs across Northside and given to engineering, culinary and CAST programs and has fully supported the Northside Education Foundation.
Sidney Aguirre and Cavender Cares have generously supported the students of Northside - in the process, giving back to the community and making a difference in the lives of our children.
Gina Lopez-Montague is a true champion for Construction Careers Academy and its students. Their business partner relationship began in April of 2019 at the state SkillsUSA competition in Corpus Christi when Lopez-Montague spotted the talent and teamwork of CCA students. During the last four years, she and Morton Buildings has:
- Provided the SkillsUSA Team Works team with a set of tool belts, hard hats, safety glasses, gloves, pencil holders and sweat bands for competition (in 2023).
- Mentored the SkillsUSA Team Works students in preparation for their team presentation prior to the build portion of the competition by providing feedback and public speaking tips to students (in 2023).
- Conducted interview seminars for CCA sophomores, juniors and seniors (in 2023).
- Donated countless cases of water and tacos for students, staff and visitors for events such as SkillsUSA District competition, Tiny Home Showcase, and a CCA Alumni event (2019-2023).
- Participates annually in the CCA Student Career Fair
- Donated shirts/polos/hoodies with the Morton Logo to CCA students.
- Donated building materials for students
- Hired two CCA students in both 2019 and 2021.
As a special note: Of those four students, three are still working for the company. And, one hired in 2019 was promoted to lead foreman - the youngest in company history - and now runs an all CCA crew. Gina is a big fan of CCA - and CCA is an even bigger fan of her!
The 2023 NISD Partners of the Year (special campuses) are:
Mike Nguyen When the Pandemic was in full force by April 2020, the District partnered with the San Antonio Food Bank to hold Mega distributions at Gus Stadium. To date, we have had 75 distributions and our next honoree, Mike Nguyen, has been volunteering at almost all of them – missing only one distribution for a family wedding out of state.
He reports for each distribution by 5 a.m. taking full responsibility for setting out ALL of the traffic cones on the Gus Stadium parking lot. As the volunteers start to arrive, Nguyen directs them into the correct parking spaces. Then around 8 a.m., he begins to single handedly direct over 1,000 vehicles into one of the five lanes for the distribution.
Nguyen is a true champion of ensuring our community has the food they need.
Pamela Allen is an advocate for all children, with and without disabilities. As a former parent of the Nellie Reddix Center, she continues her support for individuals with disabilities by opening her businesses for the Reddix adult students to train. She is the owner and CEO of Eagle's Flight Advocacy & Outreach. She has made her ranch available five days a week for the adult students that are training for both employment and volunteerism with animals. Because of her generosity, the adult students are gaining skills on a working animal ranch to fulfill their adult dreams of working and volunteering with animals. Not only is Allen providing animal- lovers an opportunity to gain skills; she has also opened her retail resale store, Kym's Kloset, to the young adult students who are interested in a future job in retail. Kym's Kloset employees work side-by-side with these student trainees to teach them valuable skills needed to be employed in the future. Because of these students' access to Allen’s resale store as a training site, many of them have moved on to employment in multiple retail stores in San Antonio. Allen has impacted so many lives beyond what she even realizes. She is truly an example of giving back and supporting the vision that everyone has a place and purpose in their community.