We couldn't thank you in person for this year's VIPS Volunteer Appreciation Dinner,
so we made you a video....
Our annual volunteer appreciation dinner is one of our favorite events of the year. It's a time when we catch up with friends, colleagues, neighbors, and fellow volunteers. But for the VIPS staff and board members, it's a chance for us to say "thank you" for all that you do for our students, staff, and schools.
VIPS has nearly 1,000 volunteers who, each year, contribute over 40,000 hours! Please enjoy the video and know that we value you and admire your commitment and dedication. Stay well and we miss you!
VIPS Celebrates its 2020 Outstanding Volunteer of the Year recipients
by delivering the awards with a car parade!
Each year, the Falmouth Volunteers In Public Schools (VIPS) program holds an annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner to thank our incredible volunteers. Falmouth VIPS volunteers provide “an experience, a perspective, an opportunity that helps shape the students and guide their journey,” says Bob Fenstermaker, VIPS Board co-president. With this year's event canceled, we decided to bring the awards to the winners! Car parades were scheduled over a two day period and members of the school community including staff, students, and fellow volunteers had fun decorating cars and signs to show their school spirit and appreciation.
Here are this year's winners, along with a description of their roles and comments from their nominations:
Falmouth High School: Aaron Agbayani, a recent FHS graduate who helped coach the freshman football team. Coach Mike Slavinsky wrote that “Aaron is a trusted member of the program who we knew would be a great coach and mentor for the kids.” He also served as a volunteer advisor for the Clipper to Clipper Student-Athlete Peer Mentorship program, a program that started when Aaron was a senior. “He helped underclassmen athletes navigate difficult situations in sports and school. This year, he volunteered his time to come back and help advise current mentors and mentees every week. He provided help with school work, interactions with teachers and coaches, and coping with issues that arise outside of school. The students in the program look up to him as a leader and role model. He has done a tremendous job selflessly giving back to Falmouth High School while balancing a job and classes. He has the respect of all those involved in the program for his advice, hard work, and dedication to giving back,” said Slavinsky. That respect was evident when several team members showed up early to help surprise him with his award, presented at FHS on the new turf field.
Lawrence School: Joel Lubin, a retired educator, has set the standard for math tutors at the junior high school. Retiring to Falmouth after 43 years of teaching middle school in western Massachusetts, Joel has spent the last four years working one-to-one or with small groups of students after school, “re-teaching or reminding” them the math lessons. Amy Mulvey, a 7th grade math teacher at Lawrence wrote that Joel “does more than teach. He connects with every student on a deeper level, remembering details and stories about each student from previous weeks. He genuinely cares about the kids. Not only is he incredibly knowledgeable, but also one of the kindest and most patient people I have ever met. He has a gentle soul which causes the most struggling students to flock to him. Those who are resistant to staying after school will stay after religiously just to work with Mr. Lubin. The best part is, students finish their work and leave with newly found confidence because of all they accomplished. And, their grades improved! Not only have the students learned from Mr. Lubin, but watching and listening to him has made me a better teacher. He is a gem, and I am eternally grateful for his support, dedication, and his friendship.”
Morse Pond School: Heather Rivera, co-president of the PTO, has impressed staff and fellow volunteers with her energy and leadership. Writes Mary Faidell, “Heather is a busy mother of two, works multiple jobs (one of which is her role as Intervention Teacher Assistant at Mullen-Hall), but somehow still finds time to volunteer on our Board and is also an active member of Mullen-Hall’s PTO! Being new to Morse Pond School didn’t stop Heather from stepping into the co-president role, or from co-chairing not one but two events: the Holiday Craft and Vendor Fair and the annual Open Campus night. Despite her busy life outside of PTO, Heather worked tirelessly to garner raffle prize donations, and worked hard to make our fabulous teachers and staff feel appreciated during Teacher Appreciation week by putting together a slide show from students and families. In addition, Heather came up with great ideas on how to welcome new students and engage current students during this complicated time of remote learning, and has offered her help in any way needed to accomplish these goals. Heather is kind, positive, organized, always willing to lend a hand, and just all around great to work with.”
East Falmouth Elementary: Bruce Holbrook is a volunteer and grandparent of two students at the school, leading him to be very involved with the school community. His fans at EFES write, “Bruce is amazing! We can always count on him for whatever we need! Last minute field trip chaperone needed? Setting up or cleaning up from a PTO event? Volunteering in the classroom? Bruce is always there to answer the call! He is consistent, friendly and always willing to help out He has worked directly in the classroom, helps with Fresh Market, and is active on the PTO.”
Mullen-Hall Elementary School: Frank Messmann, also known as Mr. Frank, volunteers as a mentor at the school. According to school adjustment counselor Wendy Risko, “his relationship with his student has become more solid and impactful each year. He rarely misses a week.” She points out how flexible he is about switching a day/time on occasions when his mentee asks him to come for a lunch bunch instead of the planned visit. He has helped the student through some challenging times and the student has requested extra visits. “When the social distancing started, I began to check in with the mentee's family by phone to discuss what resources they might need. On our first conversation, the student’s mom asked me if it was possible for Frank to call her son. Frank’s steadfast commitment to this relationship and his reliability makes him so deserving of this award. The impact of this relationship is indeed monumental and is difficult to convey through writing. I have never seen a relationship like theirs throughout my years at Mullen-Hall!”
North Falmouth Elementary: Jan Ulrich is a retired educator who has volunteered at North Falmouth Elementary since retiring to Cape Cod. Writes teacher Samantha Emerson, “I was lucky enough to adopt Jan Ulrich as my classroom volunteer this year. Jan works in my classroom nearly every Wednesday morning. My students and I look forward to her smile, kindness, flexibility and helpfulness every week! Although she helps me with my weekly copies (which saves me SO much time), her main role is to support students during our English Language Arts (ELA) block. Jan practices students' nonsense words, sight words, and other phonics patterns with them. She plays phonics games and listens to students read. She also assists students with their writing, spelling, and word work. Having Jan in my classroom allows for students to have much needed, beneficial one-on-one time. This being said, Jan goes beyond just supporting students' academics. Jan makes the effort to greet each individual student as they enter the classroom on her volunteer day. She has taken the time to get to know them and connects with them. She makes the point to check in with them during their morning routine and follows up on conversations she may have had with them the week before. Jan has stayed involved with our class even during quarantine, checking in through emails and contributing to a number of class letters that I have been sending them. Jan truly exemplifies the qualities of an outstanding volunteer!
Teaticket Elementary: Amie Webb is a volunteer who has contributed her time and energy at the school for twelve years—first with her son who is now in high school and now with her younger son who will be a 4th grader. She does it all, from photocopying for grade 2 (even though her son is now in grade 3), actively participating in PTO where she was instrumental in helping initiate the before- and after-school activities programs, volunteering with morning movement and outdoors on the track some mornings before going to work as a teaching assistant in the Sandwich Public Schools. As Teaticket’s VIPS liaison, she also logs all the school’s volunteer hours each month. Organized, kind, and hard working are some of the many compliments staff members attribute to Amie. Art teacher Julie Duffany writes that “whenever I have a request, she jumps in with a positive attitude and a smile.” Teaticket Principal Sandy Kapsambelis and staff members Carrie Shanahan and Amanda Foskitt also point to Amie’s ability to jump in and help, whether it be a teacher request, a PTO need, or a student who needs help. “Amie is caring, giving and invested in the Teaticket Community!”