Lawrence School Board President Mary Loveland said Tuesday night that although public education is undergoing dramatic reforms, there is one thing that hasn't changed.
"It's nice to know that there are still heroes," Loveland told 23 local residents who were honored Tuesday night for their volunteer efforts in the Lawrence school district.
The fourth annual "Friends of Education" reception, in which each school recognized an outstanding volunteer, was held at the Adams Alumni Center at Kansas University.
The residents' volunteer service has included serving on parent-teacher organizations, helping to raise money for playground equipment, assisting the school librarian and lending a hand during student field trips. But whatever their roles, the volunteers all seem to have something unique to offer.
MARY WALLACE, a retired art teacher and grandparent of a student at Riverside School, helps Riverside students feel special by creating a birthday poster for every student in the school. This is Wallace's second year as Riverside's birthday artist.
"Now the students are so spoiled that they're starting to ask for particular pictures (on the posters)," said Riverside Principal Donna Osness, adding that Garfield is a big hit among the students.
Linda Schwarzer was honored by Kennedy School, in part for her efforts to welcome the English as a Second Language students who moved from Hillcrest to Kennedy this school year. Schwarzer gathered flags representing all the countries of the ESL students, many of whom are the children of KU faculty and students from abroad.
Schwegler School teacher Jane Tusten said volunteer Evelyn Karney has taken a whole classroom of second-graders to her home to show them her garden and to talk about such things as composting.
"Not everybody wants to have a whole second-grade class in their yard," Tusten said.
CRAFTSMAN James Patti served as resident cobbler for Pinckney School's "Colonial Days" celebration, creating shoes and telling students about the shoe repair business of yesteryear. Meanwhile, Deanell Tacha, a judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, was honored by West Junior High School.
West teacher Dianna McKenzie said Tacha typifies today's parent volunteer.
"She's a person with an active professional life who is still intensively active in her children's education," McKenzie said.
Other "friends" and those honoring them were: Amy Rork, Broken Arrow School; Carolyn Kelly, Centennial; Coleen Darnell, Cordley; Jane Shulenburger, Deerfield; Janet Hodges, East Heights; Jane Bireta, Grant; Kathi Ramp, Hillcrest; Linda Decelles, India; Sarah Russell, New York; Ed Cunningham, Quail Run; Susan Metzger, Sunset Hill; Shari Meyer, Wakarusa Valley; Sandra Berman, Woodlawn; Alice LaFrenz, Central Junior High School; Brian Edwards, South Junior High School; Robert Curry, Lawrence High School; Larry Maxey, Fine Arts Department; and Tom Erb, the Lawrence school district and the Lawrence Education Assn.
"OUR COMMUNITY wouldn't be at all what it needs to be without people who are willing to go the extra mile," said Carol Abrahamson, past president of the Lawrence Education Assn. "Let's make this contagious. Let's see if we can have the disease of volunteerism spread throughout Lawrence."