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News from 2023-2024

Posted: April 22, 2024

Meet the Winners of the 2024 Outstanding Volunteers in APS Awards

Honorees are a Taft Middle School eighth-grader, a retired teacher, and the Oasis Reading Tutoring Team.

They go above and beyond every day, helping students improve their reading skills, picking up litter, and even working with Community Schools to get kids what they need to succeed.

Albuquerque Public Schools currently has 13,090 “cleared volunteers” who donate thousands of hours each year to help the district meet the needs of its students.

“On any given day these dedicated volunteers work tirelessly to increase the capacity of our school staff and programs, so that schools can meet their academic goals, students can have positive education outcomes, and additional enrichment programs and services are available to all students,” said Vaisu Desai Bronk, manager of APS Volunteer Programs and Special Projects.

April 21-27 is National Volunteer Week, and APS is seizing the opportunity to celebrate its many dedicated volunteers. A few of those volunteers have demonstrated outstanding service this school year, and APS is recognizing them with Outstanding Volunteer awards.

Many outstanding volunteers were nominated, and the judge’s decision was not easy. It’s clear that all of our volunteers are doing amazing work.

While we honor the winners, we also celebrate and thank all of the volunteers who lend their time and energy to build stronger, more vibrant school communities through everyday service.

Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award – Riziki Isaac, Taft Middle School

When Taft Middle School put out a call for help, eighth-grader Riziki Isaac was among the first to respond. She helped with the campus clean-up, working alongside other student volunteers and the school custodians.

She went on to become a lead on the project. Riziki leads the team by lifting up fellow volunteers, encouraging them with appreciation, and finding learning opportunities that elevate their pride in the impact of their combined efforts.

Their work makes a noticeable difference in maintaining a healthier environment for students, staff, and visitors. Recycling and removing litter also helps with germ prevention and supports campus safety by reducing risks of accidents and injuries. Her dedication, positive attitude, and enthusiasm are great assets to the school and have inspired the rest of the clean-up crew.

With perfect attendance at all volunteer recycling crew events, Riziki does more than show up. Even on the most chaotic clean-up days, she arrives with an uplifting spirit and spreads joy with an ever-present smile and a greeting to brighten the day of students and staff. She leads by example with an attitude of caring and enthusiasm, prioritizing both the mission and her fellow volunteers.

She is driven by knowing that a clean campus provides a better environment for learning, where students can feel pride and motivation and increase their connections to the school community. While keeping up with honor grades, she still makes time to arrive with a positive attitude every day, committing to doing her best and setting high expectations for her work through small and large actions. Her teamwork, attitude, and devotion to campus clean-up teaches other students the importance of taking care of their surroundings and instills values like environmental stewardship, community engagement, and teamwork to the entire school.

Outstanding Adult Volunteer Award — Ronald Cooper Jr., Hayes Middle School

When Ron Cooper Jr. retired from teaching special education math at Hayes Middle School, he came right back to the school. The connections he made during his time as a teacher have made his commitment to this school a personal one for him and it shows. He knows that all kids are capable of learning and that when barriers are removed, they can learn anything they desire. He is tackling these barriers with positivity and with contributions that benefit many facets of the school.

Ron serves on the Community School Council where he lends his expertise to interpret school data so it can be used for improvement and with various grants and projects that focus on student educational and emotional goals and staff support. While that would be enough for most volunteers, Ron does so much more. He volunteers all week long by assisting with lunch, playing sports with students, reaching out to the community, and finding ways to assist teachers as needed.

Financially, he has donated to teacher appreciation luncheons and the Giving Tree Project and has sponsored several students in various activities, including summer soccer camp. Ron also helps homeless families with gifts, hotel stays, clothing, and meals. As a former teacher, Ron knows what it takes to drive gains in academic and social-emotional areas. Retirement doesn’t stop him, it propels him even further, and it shows in his connections with staff and students. He is an invaluable volunteer and a motivating force in the Hayes Middle School community.

Outstanding Team Volunteer Award – Los Ranchos Elementary Team Oasis Reading Tutors

The five-member Oasis Reading Tutoring Team at Los Ranchos Elementary is a volunteer group dedicated to helping students who need extra reading support.

They commit to working with the same student each year to provide familiarity to the student and to gain a deeper understanding of their needs. The volunteers devote their time and expertise to collaborate on the skills and areas of improvement needed for each student and provide targeted assistance to them with patience, compassion and enthusiasm. Students working with the tutors exceeded their goal to gain 10 or more points on their i-Ready or Istation goals by three times, with gains of 30 or more points. The majority of these students also averaged one-to-two grade level increases in their reading.

The impact of these volunteer tutors goes far beyond the classroom. They are instilling the joy of learning to foster a lifelong curiosity and passion for exploration. By helping students build their home libraries and combining their own unique talents and interests into their tutoring sessions, they create engaging and personalized learning experiences for each student.

The tutors build relationships with individual students and guide them to find their love of reading and build their confidence to choose their own reading materials. Whether through interactive reading exercises, incorporating elements of art, music, storytelling, science, yoga and many other interests, they engage students with lessons tailored to their varying needs. Students become interested in independent exploration on a variety of topics from parrots to the ocean and more. Reading tutors at Los Ranchos Elementary are truly making an impact on students by improving their reading skills and opening the doors to a love of learning.