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District celebrates volunteers, kicks off National Volunteer Appreciation Month

Dede Quint

DeDe Quint (center) poses with friends. 

School-site volunteers, Partners-in-Education and advisory committee volunteer chairs were honored at the district’s 2013 Volunteer and Partner Recognition event held recently at Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary School. 

Honorees were recognized for the countless hours, efforts and in many cases, funds they contribute to their local San Diego Unified schools. Each individual and organization was given a certificate and all were applauded for their efforts during the ceremony. In addition, four individuals were named “Volunteer of the Year” and four organizations were named “Partner of the Year.” 

Winners included 90-year-old DeDe Quint, a 25-year volunteer at Dewey Elementary School; American Legion Post 731, who has donated more than 300 bikes to Chesterton Elementary students; and the Assistance League of San Diego County, who has helped to improve the educational experience for all students at Mark Twain High School.

Volunteer of the Year Award Winners

Elementary: DeDe Quint, Dewey Elementary School

Middle: Mark Kunkee, Mann Middle School

High School: Donna Garcia Silva, School of Creative and Performing Arts

Atypical: Lois Modesitt, John Muir

Partner of the Year Award Winners

Elementary: American Legion Post 731, Nominated by Chesterton Elementary

Middle: John Crawford, The Kiwanis Club, nominated by Lewis Middle School

High School: The Assistance League of San Diego County, nominated by Mark Twain High School

Atypical: Access to Independence, nominated by TRACE 

Although the afternoon belonged to the volunteers and partners, the event featured several outstanding student performances as well. Five members of Madison High School’s orchestra, led by Jesse Rogers, played string music during the reception. School of Creative and Performing Arts students Danika Waitley, Katherine Ward and Julanaar Gamboa kicked off the ceremony with the National Anthem, and Larissa Garcia surprised her mom, an honoree, with the song “For Good” from the musical “Wicked.”

Attended by more than 170 people, the celebration marked the return of the Volunteer & Partner Recognition Event after a two-year hiatus. The event was made possible by sponsor California Coast Credit Union, who also participated in hosting duties. 

Featured speakers included Superintendent Bill Kowba, Deputy Superintendent of Academics Nellie Meyer, Board Trustees Kevin Beiser and Scott Barnett, ceremony host Chief of Staff Bernie Rhinerson, and California Coast’s Jacklynn Carey. 

The event kicks off National Volunteer Appreciation Month in April. The theme of the year’s national celebration is Celebrate Service. All schools in the district are encouraged to honor all of their volunteers and partners with some type of celebration, either in April or sometime before the end of the school year.

More about our winners

DeDe Quint is 90 years old and a product of San Diego Unified as a student, then teacher, and now retired volunteer. She has been volunteering at Dewey Elementary for 25 years, bringing the gift of music to second and fourth graders, playing the piano and leading the students in chorus. Without her dedicated support, Dewey would not have a choral program. She never misses a day and has been a member of the Dewy family and an incredible asset to our students for a very long time.

Mark Kunkee has been a volunteer at Mann Middle since 2009. He generously volunteers over 60 hours per month in the school’s library, attends monthly SSC meetings and helps where needed around campus. Anything you ask of Mr. Kunkee, from assisting students to pushing a 200-pound cart of books to a classroom, he does with a smile on his face. This year alone, he has volunteered over 300 hours. Mr. K is a valuable asset to the students and staff at Mann. They love “Mr. K.”

Donna Garcia Silva is the President of the Friends of SCPA. In this capacity, she has logged more than 1,000 hours creating opportunities that support SCPA students and teachers. She has helped raise visibility by creating a Friends’ Facebook page; and has organized a variety of fundraising activities, including a Teacher Giving Tree, a golf tournament, and a week-long dine out with local restaurants. She has also created the Friends Café, which provides refreshments to audience members who attend SCPA’s production, and often provides breakfast for staff on the first day of school. SCPA is always at the forefront of Donna’s generosity of time. 

Lois Modesitt has been an active volunteer for seven years. Technology is her profession and her passion. She began updating and repairing donated computer equipment a few years ago with the goal of providing computers and printers to our families in need. Last week, she gave away her 212th computer. She has started two programs that help the school get supplies for the classroom, she tutors students in all levels of math, and she keeps the John Muir website updated. Her friendly demeanor and knowledge of our school and programs are much appreciated by parents new to the Muir family. She is an extremely valuable member of the Muir family.

The American Legion Post 731 initially approached Chesterton Elementary in 1996 and proposed a bike give-away. Since then, once a month, two students who display good citizenship and literacy skills receive a bike. During the 17 years of this unofficial partnership, the American Legion has donated more than 300 bikes to Chesterton students. Members of the Legion not only raise funding for the bikes, but also try to fit them specifically to the child who is receiving them. Their unfailing support and dedication to the school and the students have been valuable incentive tools. Even more importantly, it is indicative of the value the Legion places on education and the students’ learning processes.

John Crawford, Kiwanis Club of Allied Gardens. Crawford has volunteered approximately 46 hours at Lewis Middle so far this year. He meets every Thursday with the student club known as the Builders Club, in pursuit of finding ways to make our learning community a better place. Last year, John and his Builders club students raised more than $2,000 in support of finding the cure for Leukemia. This year, John and his Builder’s Club members are dedicating their efforts to overseeing the Lewis Middle School’s “No Place for Hate” Anti-bullying campaign.

Assistance League of San Diego County. For over 17 years, the Assistance League has improved the educational experience for our entire student body at Twain, from enhancing the daily school climate to promoting their futures through scholarships. Each year, Assistance League members provide over 450 hours of volunteer time, plus invaluable donations. Some highlights of their involvement include: Sponsoring post-high school scholarships with not just money, but also with help-sessions in completing applications, tutoring in interview skills, and dress-for-success clothing; and they have also enhanced the future of our teen parents and their children by supporting the Infant/Toddler Center, with caring volunteers and baby supplies, to literacy lessons. 

Access to Independence. Access to Independence allows TRACE to hold meetings with our students at their facilities, and they have taken on teaching classes once a month for our students. These are classes that are of interest to students, such as advocacy, SSI benefits and instruction on healthy food choices. Another important aspect of TRACE is to get our students competitively employed in their community. We hold a monthly interview workshop, and Access to Independence often sends the most representatives to assist. We know that many of our special education students have become more independent and knowledgeable about their community due to our Partnership with Access to Independence, and we really appreciate everything they have done for our students.