PHOTOS: Tommie Barfield Elementary volunteers honored at special breakfast

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Volunteers are oftentimes the unsung heroes behind organizations and institutions. However, last Thursday, about 75 parents and community members who perform that gratuitous service were invited to an appreciation breakfast at Tommie Barfield Elementary (TBE).

Volunteers and students gathered in the Media Center, where the school’s musical chorus, The Morning Musicians, presented their gift of thanks in song, while other students gave poetry presentations.

“Volunteers were recognized for both the generous giving of their time and accumulation of volunteer hours,” said Debbie Cooper, TBE’s volunteer program coordinator. The hours are reported to the school district in hopes of begin honored with a Golden School Award.

Some volunteers have been with the school for 21 years, and two were recognized for reaching the district’s 200-hour milestone. They will receive a volunteer pin.

“Our volunteers are part of the richness that makes Tommie Barfield such a high-achieving school. Our young, older and retired volunteers, some with teaching backgrounds, are worth their weight in gold,” said Jory Westberry, principal.

“They bring joy, fun, creativity, personal attention and acceptance to their role as a volunteer and really make a difference in our students’ lives. These men and women are truly a credit to our community and are loved by all at TBE.”

Along with Sandy Hurley, general secretary, and the other members of the front office staff, Cooper greets, sends communication, provides orientation and strives to keep the volunteer information up-to-date.

TBE strives to make their volunteers feel welcomed and appreciated at all times.

“What makes our volunteers special is that they are so different and each one brings his or her individual talent. We are blessed with many retired, professional snowbird volunteers who faithfully return year after year to help our students. The giving of their time and energy to our students and teachers strengthens our school community,” Cooper explained.

Volunteers assist students and teachers in a variety of ways, said Cooper. Some read one-on-one with students, while others help small groups of students to understand a math concept. They also assist teachers with the preparation of materials and with organizing the papers to be sent home.

“Our students enjoy working with the volunteers. They feel successful as their reading improves and they are keeping up with their other academics. The one-on-one attention and interaction with the volunteer can boost the student’s self-esteem,” Cooper said.

“Our volunteers are always ready to help in any way that is needed. Some help with field trips and in our Media Center. Participation in our School Advisory Council and Parent Teacher Organization are both examples of other ways parents and community members help TBE to be the best it can be.”

On the same day, the school also honored the top fundraisers in the Go Take a Hike Fundraiser.

“This fundraiser is our major one for the year. Contributions are made through pledges to students on the number of laps that they complete during a certain time,” said Westberry.

The activity combines physical fitness with the incentive of accomplishing as many laps as possible to raise funds for the school. The funds are used to supplement the reading materials in the Media Center, pay for field trips, purchase added academic materials, contract with outside speakers to provide programs for our students and much more.

The school raised about $12,000 and Christine Farhat’s fourth graders raised the highest classroom total in the amount of $1,676.80. Prizes included coveted special positions like principal for the day, coach for the day and Morning News guest anchor for the day.

“We would not be able to enhance our school and increase student achievement and development without the combined efforts of our students, staff and the valuable support of our parents and community,” Westberry added.

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