Recognizing Dallas ISD volunteers

In honor of National Volunteer Month, we recognize the efforts of the thousands of volunteers who give of their time throughout Dallas ISD. From parents to community members, their dedication and efforts to create an environment that leads to student success is inspirational. During National Public School Volunteer Week take the opportunity to commemorate these volunteers who go above and beyond to support students and team members. 

Watch a video message from Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde in english and spanish, and a video from Jon Dahlander, chief of Partnerships and Intergovernmental Relations.

Below are a few stories shared by Dallas ISD team members about their experience working with volunteers. 

Johanna Rodriguez, a parent instructor at Seagoville North Elementary, has had the opportunity to work with Claudia Elizabeth Garces, a devoted volunteer who goes above and beyond for students, “Front [office team members are] very happy with her work, we ask for something to be done and she makes it perfect, even better then what we ask for. She is an amazing volunteer.” 

“Ryan Gamino with Excell Electric just doesn’t know how to say ‘no.’ This year alone, he has given a donation of over $6,000 worth of tools and equipment to Career Institute East for student use in our trade labs,” said Becky Barker, a coordinator at Career Institute East. “He has judged entrepreneurial events on our campus, and when we needed additional judges, he pulled them off various sites so our students would have enough judges for the event. On several occasions when we needed a forklift and a trailer to pick up items, they volunteered to make it happen for us. If all of this wasn’t enough, his company hires more student interns than all of our other industry partners put together. This year, he will hire over a dozen of our seniors to go to work for him, and that does not include our junior interns. We can always count on Ryan and his Excell team, and we are very grateful.” 

Team members at Hillcrest High School expressed their gratitude working with Andrea Berman, who has volunteered in four schools in over 16 years, including Hillcrest High School. Berman has volunteered in various positions from chaperone, PTA president, fundraiser, SMDM member, she has helped feed teams at tournaments and teachers who stay late working, organize events, and many more. At Hillcrest High School, she made the renovations of the teachers lounge possible, and when there was a need for a food pantry, she stepped in to ensure there was food in it for students. Through the pandemic, she found ways to make sure the students felt connected. “The truth of the matter is that she does all these extra activities because she believes all students can be successful and  that Hillcrest schools are the best option for them!” said Joseph Sotelo, former principal of Hillcrest High School and Benjamin Franklin Middle School.

Derrick Battie, community liaison for South Oak Cliff High School, has been lucky to work with Mary Miller, a volunteer who will do everything for her grandchildren and for South Oak Cliff High School as a whole, especially the South Oak Cliff  Band Department. “Mrs. Miller is physically here at the campus every day due to band practices and general support in our attendance office and preparing uniforms, food, cold drinks for students who will be attending practices. Mrs. Miller is also an active member of our PTA and Coffee with the Principal participant. Mary Miller is more than just a VOLY Volunteer, she models leadership, and grace, professionalism and motherly love all wrapped up into one. She supports with weekend volunteer events like our Spring Health Fair, weekend band field trips, most of the time using her own money to purchase needed items for Band and for our SOC Community Pantry, these items serve our families and students most in need and most at risk, she also volunteers for teacher and staff appreciation events often.” 

“Rosa Castillo is our BEST parent volunteer who always goes above and beyond to serve the needs of our [team members], students and families. She always has a smile on her face and is quick to help at a moment’s notice. Not to mention, she is very creative and always has new ideas to offer to help improve our school atmosphere.” said Catherine Gonzalez, counselor at Julius Dorsey Leadership Academy. Castillo was recently nominated as Julius Dorsey Leadership parent for Dallas ISD State of the District. Besides being an exceptional role model and helping with the North Texas Food Bank, she has formed a gardening club with parents and students. “This school year there was a turnover in our parent organization and they went from being a PTO to a PO, which meant they were no longer able to fundraise. This didn’t stop Ms. Castillo, it only made her work harder to seek donations from other parents and the community to help meet school needs. Ms. Castillo used this as a way to introduce herself to new mothers on our campus (especially immigrant mothers) to make them feel welcome and encourage them to volunteer at our school. She was able to form a new Parent Organization with new mothers who, through donations, have been able to provide student and [team member] incentives for holidays, as well as for special events like the total solar eclipse!”

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