Shakopee Schools Give 'Above and Beyond' Annual Awards to Volunteers

Shakopee schools awarded the honor to 33 local volunteers.

In celebration of National Volunteer Week, April 15-21, 2012, the Shakopee School Board passed a resolution honoring and thanking the district’s more than 1,800 volunteers for their service. School district staff and students appreciate and value the efforts of each and every volunteer, no matter what their contribution. 

2011-12 Above & Beyond Volunteer Award

The Above & Beyond Volunteer Award is presented annually to school volunteers who have shown outstanding dedication and commitment to enhancing student’s educational experiences. Above & Beyond volunteers are selected based on the number of hours of service, years of service, and/or scope of service to the school. Following are the award winners for this year.


Denise Moen has partnered with Shakopee High School for the past three years. As a registered nurse at , Denise volunteers her time with the High School Nursing Assistant class several times a week. This year alone, she will have volunteered approximately 144 hours of her time. While in the classroom, Denise teaches the students over 50 different skills necessary to become a certified nursing assistant. She also supervises the students at St. Gertrude’s as they apply these skills during the required clinical experience. Denise is an invaluable asset to the Nursing Assistant class. Without her time and energy, the High School would not be able to offer this course for students. 

Cal and Esther Ten Eyck have been extraordinary supporters of the High School speech team starting in 2009 when their daughter joined the team. Every year since then, Cal has made the team breakfast for the home invitational. This dynamic duo has contributed many hours of time organizing and working for various speech events. This year they were instrumental in planning and executing hospitality and concessions for both the home invitational and the Missota Conference Speech Tournament hosted by Shakopee High School. Their significant, combined effort was key to the success of both events.

Sian Roper has been a consistent supporter of the speech team since her daughter joined the team in 2008. She has given many hours working on hospitality and concessions for various speech team events and this year was trained as a judge so she could accompany the team to invitationals. She has also been instrumental in organizing communication efforts to families of team members.

Kay Strand has been a tremendous supporter of the speech team since her daughter joined the team in 2009. She has donated many hours of her time to ensure the successful execution of hospitality and concessions not only for home invitationals, but also for the Missota Conference Speech Tournament hosted by Shakopee High School. She also serves as an organizer of parent volunteers for various speech events and has led communication efforts with the families of team members.

Christine Bruns is often the first to offer her time and energy for Middle School activities and events. From assisting with pictures and conferences, to chaperoning concerts, dances, and field trips, to participating in teacher appreciation meals, you’ll find Chris at the center of activity. She understands the importance of the school Book Fair and the organization necessary to maintain the Literacy Library. She is flexible to the needs of the event, students, or staff and always maintains an exemplary attitude. Everyone at the Middle School appreciates her commitment to making things happen.

Kyra Moak is a junior at Shakopee High School who makes time to volunteer at the Middle School even though she is taking both high school and college-level courses. She has been huge help to the math department completing a new project which will allow teachers to incorporate math vocabulary into other subject contents. Kyra also spent time working on math concepts with sixth grade students during class. When a young person has so little time to volunteer, and chooses to give those precious hours to school, she embodies the volunteer spirit and is a role model for her fellow students.

Ed Neu has served as a Future City Competition mentor for the Middle School team for the past four years. When Ed is not working at his job as a mechanical engineer with Seagate in Shakopee, he enjoys helping students understand the fundamentals of engineering as they create their own futuristic city models. His engineering expertise helps the students as they apply math, science and technology to real world engineering problems. Not only is Ed helping the students learn how to problem-solve and be successful engineers, he’s introducing them to a career possibility to explore as they further their education. This is the third year in a row that the Middle School has awarded Ed the Above & Beyond Award.

Sue Vigliaturo has been an outstanding volunteer tutor at the Middle School for the past two years and has received this award for her volunteer efforts the past three years. She comes to school two days a week for two hours each day to work with 3 to 6 students during their study hall. Sue adjusts her volunteer schedule to accommodate the students’ project deadlines and testing schedules. The students look forward to working with her. Sue is a reliable, conscientious, and dedicated tutor and the Middle School is fortunate to have her working with their students. She takes the time to email teachers about the students’ work and has even brought in rewards and supplies for students. She is a special volunteer who sincerely wants to make a difference in the lives of students.

Danar Ekosiwi is a truly amazing volunteer who is always willing to answer any request for help. This is the third year in a row Danar has been nominated for this award by the Eagle Creek staff. As if her countless hours of service to fifth grade teachers is not enough, Denar helps in the workroom, main office and even takes projects home to complete them. Even after her children move to the next grade level, she continues to check with their former teachers to see how she can help. Denar also is involved with PTO events and activities. She volunteers so many hours that one Eagle Creek staff member quipped, “Danar’s a volunteer? I thought she worked here.” Danar is a great person with a big heart and an overwhelming desire to make the world a better place. 

Pam Garwood is another exceptional volunteer who comes to school with a great attitude and does a fabulous job at whatever task she takes on. Pam helps anywhere at Eagle Creek and wherever there is a need. She is reliable, efficient and willing to adjust her schedule to meet the teacher’s needs for help. She embodies the volunteer spirit and shares that spirit with students, teachers, and the school community.

Renee Nesnidal volunteers weekly in classrooms, helps on special party days, offers to read to classes and even takes projects home to complete them. A scientist by training, Renee has volunteered her time to conduct exceptional science demonstrations and hands-on experiments for second grade classrooms. One of the teachers is especially grateful for her ongoing work on organizing a leveled library in his classroom. Renee also comes into the workroom whenever there are projects to complete. She is one of those volunteers who won’t go home until everything that can be completed gets done. 

Lori Nigbur has been a “rock star” volunteer in the workroom this year. She has taken it upon herself to learn how to use the laminator and the poster maker so she can be as helpful as possible to the staff. She almost always responds to calls for help even when the task is long and tedious. On Mondays, Lori takes her lunch break from her job to come in and fill red folders. She is reliable and fun to have around. She is also very involved in the PTO and puts countless hours into making sure Eagle Creek has fun events for the kids and families. Eagle Creek is fortunate to have Lori as a volunteer.

Summer Sellers volunteers regularly in both first and third grade classrooms at Eagle Creek. She also serves as an Art Adventure leader in third grade and a Junior Achievement leader for several classrooms at the school. Summer is always willing to help outside of her children's classrooms when needed. She is kind, fun to work with, self- motivated, and driven. She is willing to take projects home and is very involved in most school activities. Eagle Creek staff appreciates the many ways Summer shares her time and talents with the school.

Jackson Elementary

Betsy Nelson is an amazing community volunteer and a true asset to the Media Center staff. Whether shelving books, repairing books, checking in and out books, cataloging materials or helping with the Book Fair, Betsy makes a difference at Jackson. As a result of her efforts, the Media Center staff has been able to allow students to check out additional books each week. Without her help, they would not be able to keep up with processing books. Betsy also helps weekly in the workroom and office. 

Faye Vermillion shares her volunteer time with both second and third grade classrooms at Jackson and is known to the students as “Grandma Faye.” She travels from Hastings one or two days each week spending the entire time helping teachers and students. Faye often helps small groups of students by giving spelling pretests or helping them complete assignments missed due to an absence. Her strong organizational skills were a huge asset to teachers as they packed for the move to Jackson last spring. 

Connie Wester is another one of Jackson’s “grandparent volunteers.” She drives to Shakopee weekly from Eagan to help in classrooms, read with students, and assist with projects. Connie also volunteers in the workroom counting weekly red folder materials and is willing to do anything else that the staff asks of her. Connie is a very reliable volunteer and is receiving this award for the second year in a row.

Jannette Costa comes in weekly to assist in kindergarten, second and fourth grade classrooms. Whether her days at school mean red folder counting, updating bulletin boards, field trips, classroom parties, workroom projects or small group work with students, Jannette makes a difference for the staff and students. She also keeps the display cases looking not only presentable, but actually lovely and creative. The staff loves her dependability and warm smile which is one of many reasons they nominated Jannette for this award two years in a row. The students love the individual attention she gives them. She is a special volunteer who is capable of wearing many hats and is truly a gift to the school.

Karaline Hummel volunteers weekly in a third grade classroom and does an amazing job. She is also on the PBIS team as a volunteer. This committee meets twice a month after school and Karaline comes in ready and willingly to help. She helps with staff appreciation, bingo and just about anything else needed at Jackson.

Fred & Maetta Jurewicz serve as classroom discussion leaders for two important enrichment programs at Jackson Elementary. Even though their five children graduated from Shakopee High School several years ago, they still faithfully dedicate their time and passion to programs in Shakopee Schools. For the past 14 years, Fred & Maetta have volunteered in third grade with the Art Adventure program at Pearson and now Jackson Elementary Schools.

As art aficionados, they share their love of art with students by participating in this month-long program through the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. This school year, this vibrant couple also agreed to lead classroom discussions as part of the five-week Junior Achievement program. Their ability to connect with students and excite them about learning makes Fred & Maetta a true asset to the school. Both of these programs require hours of training and preparation time in addition to actual classroom discussions. Fred & Maetta truly understand and live the spirit of giving back to their community.

Sharlene Christian taught first grade in the school district for 20 years and still loves being in the classroom. She is nominated for this award by Red Oak staff for the second year in a row. Sharlene began the school year by volunteering for one day each week in classrooms and helping the office staff with projects. In November, she agreed to fill a long-term substitute teaching position. Wanting to make sure everything was perfect in the classroom where she was subbing, her nights and weekends were spent correcting papers and planning lessons. Now that her role has changed back to a volunteer, Sharlene has returned to volunteering each week and spends countless hours doing school projects at home. In their nomination of Sharlene, Red Oak staff describes her as “reliable, cheerful, generous with her time, patient and incredible.”

Heather Garcia is a fabulous, reliable and dependable volunteer at Red Oak. She has volunteered every week (often more than one day a week) for the past two years. She is willing to help with anything teachers ask and often takes it upon herself to do a task just to make teacher’s lives easier. She also takes projects home, helps with weekly folders, class parties and even runs errands for teachers. The time and energy Heather gives to Red Oak is truly amazing.

Amanda Holm has spent countless hours volunteering in her child’s classroom, heading up the school yearbook, helping in the workroom, and responding to needs throughout the school. She’s hard-working, always cheerful and generous with her time. This year Amanda has given a phenomenal number of volunteer hours helping to create the Red Oak yearbook, coming in to school to take photos for almost every event. Her energy and dedication to the success of Red Oak as well as her children’s education are admirable. Red Oak is very fortunate to have her as a parent volunteer.

Aggie Leovan is incredibly reliable, detail-orientated and gracious with her time. For the past four years, Aggie has come in every Friday to count and sort red folder materials – in that time she rarely missed a week. Even though the task is not very glamorous, she recognizes the importance of having it done accurately. Whether it’s working in the workroom, helping teachers with projects or assisting the office staff, Red Oak staff can always count on Aggie. Her efforts are very much appreciated by all the staff at the school.

Danielle Nash was nominated for this award for the second year in a row by several teachers, the site volunteer coordinator and the office staff. Danielle’s dedication to Red Oak is awesome. As a mother of two Red Oak students, she volunteers in each of their classrooms one day a week. As if that’s not enough, she offers her services every week in the office helping with the mail and assorted clerical tasks. In spite of an accident using the paper cutter, which required several stitches, Danielle still came in to make sure that projects were done. Danielle is also an integral part of the Red Oak PTO. This year she is head of the yearbook committee and has helped coordinate the school dance. She has spent countless hours taking pictures and organizing them into the yearbook. In the words of Red Oak’s administrative assistant, “We are so lucky to have Danielle as a volunteer.”

Kay Alley is better known as “Grandma Kay” around Sun Path hallways and classrooms. She is a one of a kind volunteer who is truly loved by the entire Sun Path family. She has an enthusiastic attitude, contagious smile and uplifting words for everyone. Kay comes in once a week and does extra reading groups and the students love working with her. This year Kay took on the added responsibility of helping with the first grade REACH program making a huge impact on the students. One of the many special ways she shows students she cares is by putting together treat bags for them around holidays. According the teachers, “Kay brightens everyone’s day.” This is the second year Kay has received this award from the staff.

Cindy Taronno comes in every week to organize and count red folders materials, making sure all the students are taking home the correct communications. Cindy helps with classroom projects, parties and works with students on activities. In addition to volunteering in the workroom and classroom, Cindy spends hours organizing the school’s Box Tops for Education program. Her service hours at home cutting and bundling box tops is a huge help to fundraising efforts at Sun Path. For the second year in a row, Sun Path staff honored Cindy’s efforts with this award.

Chris Younger dedicates a tremendous amount of time to Sun Path. She helps facilitate High Potential book discussions keeping the students engaged in the reading by participating in fun activities that go along with the books. Chris has also helped with Literature Circles in fifth grade HP reading. She’s built great working relationships with the students. In addition to her work with the High Potential program, Chris helps classroom teachers, is involved in the Destination Imagination program and is this year’s PTO president at Sun Path. In her second year as an Above & Beyond award recipient, Chris has made a significant and amazing impact on the school she clearly loves.

Deb Barber has been a motivating force behind the Sweeney PTO for several years and is currently the PTO treasurer. You’ll find Deb at every PTO event helping with set up, keeping things running smoothly, and always staying around for the tear down and cleanup. In addition, Deb is committed to helping in her sons’ classrooms. From field trips, to classroom projects and activities, she is there to help as much as her time permits and always with a smile. Deb is a great team player and a valuable member of the Sweeney volunteer team.

Marvelyn Morphew gives her time daily to Sweeney. She is committed to working in her son's classroom where she helps with any projects needed. Between her shifts working as a Sweeney paraprofessional, she consistently looks for ways to volunteer her time. If she doesn’t find projects in the workroom needing to be done, she checks with teachers to see how she can help. Marvelyn also helps at PTO events. Her great attitude, flexibility and willingness to take action when there is a task to complete make Marvelyn a truly amazing volunteer.

Tammy Savina is new to Sweeney Elementary and has jumped in to school activities with both feet. She is a huge help to each of her daughter's kindergarten teachers and helps with classroom parties and activities. In addition, Tammy shares her time in the Media Center, assists with the Giving Tree program and picture day, and is involved in the PTO. Tammy is willing to volunteer in all areas and recently was a new recruit to learn the fine art of popcorn making. She is a valued volunteer at Sweeney and her flexibility and smile combined with her positive attitude make her a cherished partner.

Pat Simmons is a parent volunteer who goes above and beyond for Sweeney in a variety of ways. He helped initiate a weekly reading program during Sweeney’s breakfast time and routinely reads to the students as part of this program. Whether helping in his son's classroom, working on projects around the school, or surprising the staff with goodies to brighten their day, Pat understands and lives the spirit of volunteerism. He has the unique opportunity of knowing many community members through a neighborhood church. As part of this network, he has recruited several community members who now volunteer at Sweeney. Pat has introduced volunteers to assist with the school picnic, hall monitor needs, and gingerbread night. He also helped the school make amazing connections with families in need for our Giving Tree program. His big heart and overwhelming desire to make the world a better place makes him a great asset to our school.


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