Superintendent A. Russell Hughes recognized the 2018-2019 Walton County Outstanding School Volunteers at the April 16th school board meeting! Mr. Hughes spoke highly of each of our recipients, and reiterated his appreciation for ALL the school volunteers who give of their time so willingly throughout the district. "Together, we are better!"
In the Adult Category, Superintendent Hughes recognized Mrs. Margaret Aresco, submitted by Freeport Elementary School Principal, Mrs. Kristin Lewis. In the Senior Category, Superintendent Hughes recognized Mrs. Rebecca Martin, submitted by West DeFuniak Elementary School Principal, Mrs. Darlene Paul.

Pictured: FES Principal, Kristin Lewis; Mrs. Margaret Aresco; School Board Vice-Chairperson, Marsha Winegarner; Superintendent Russell Hughes

"Mrs. Aresco has volunteered at Freeport Elementary School for six years.  She started volunteering when her older child began kindergarten at FES.  During her time volunteering, Mrs. Aresco has helped in classrooms and with the Parent Teacher Organization.  Mrs. Aresco now serves as the President of PTO. 

As PTO president, Mrs. Aresco has been instrumental in the successful funding of several projects for the improvement of FES.  PTO does an annual Cookie Dough fundraiser, this year, the fundraiser raised $15,000. PTO has funded our Watch Dog Dads program, the program had a pizza kick off night with 146 dads, or 20% of parents in attendance.  Last year, our percentage of parent involvement for Academic Parent nights was 17%. Our school improvement goal is to raise that percentage to 25%.  Mrs. Aresco provides valuable feedback through the School Advisory Council to improve these parent events and increase attendance. 

PTO also provides classroom grants to teachers. In the past, PTO has funded take home study kits, math centers, book tastings, new playground equipment, and various other teacher requests. PTO funds the Cool Cat Reader program.  This program purchases T shirts and pays for students who reach their Accelerated Reading goal for the year to go on a field trip. 

Mrs. Aresco can often be found on the school’s campus selling school t-shirts, organizing fundraisers, the Fall Festival, Movie Night, and anything else that is needed. She is an instrumental part of our school." 

Pictured: West DeFuniak Elementary Principal, Darlene Paul; Mrs. Becky Martin; School Board Vice-Chairperson, Marsha Winegarner; Superintendent Russell Hughes

Walton County School District's Senior Volunteer recipient for the 2018-2019 school year is Mrs. Rebecca Martin, also know as "Mrs. Becky."

"Mrs. Martin has been volunteering at West DeFuniak for the past 23 years and for the past several years she has averaged 290 hours per year.  Mrs. Becky has always been willing to help where she is needed but is now found in Kindergarten every Wednesday!

Her contribution to the academic success of students is accomplished in a variety of ways.  She works weekly with ELL students on letters and sounds with games, arts and craft activities, etc. For example, when learning the letter A she assisted by cutting apples, helping students cut their letter A pictures, and completing their letter A activity all while reviewing and practicing this letter with them.

Mrs. Martin is also an Accelerated Reader program pro! She reads with students weekly and assists them in taking their AR tests.  Mrs. Martin worked with a Kindergarten class to pass a total of 1,064 AR tests. Student’s individual goals were 85% accuracy and every child scored an average of 87% or higher with a class average of 93.5. Mrs. Martin re-reads with students who have read at home with parents and then assists in their testing. However, many students don’t have someone that reads to them at home on a consistent basis, so Mrs. Martin reads and re-reads with them at school before taking their tests. The classroom teacher is unable to assist all students with reading or re-reading their AR books so without the help from Mrs. Martin students would be unable to meet their individual goals and the classroom goal. As a result, the students in the classes she volunteers in reach their individual AR goals and collectively meet their class goals with all students earning their AR shirts.

On many occasions Mrs. Becky arrives in full costume to be a guest reader. She entertains students dressing as the main character as she reads to them hoping to instill a love for books and reading.

Mrs. Martin can be counted on to chaperone Kindergarten field trips and annually volunteers to chaperone and assist with the Emerald Coast Junior League Shopping Trip for select students. Her love of children shows in her enthusiasm to give of her time in a variety of ways. 

West DeFuniak is blessed with many volunteers and community helpers, but Mrs. Becky has been around for so long she is considered a permanent fixture around here. When Wednesday morning comes around, she arrives even before most of the teachers and begins to spread her Mrs. Becky cheer.  She is as much an encouragement to faculty and staff as she is to students!

Mrs. Martin has been instrumental in the successes of West DeFuniak Elementary and we are proud to nominate her for Senior Outstanding Volunteer for the 2018-2019 School Year!"