Wayne County Schools announces district's 2011 Volunteer of the Year
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 22, 2011 1:46 PM
Jerome Tan sat quietly and politely as Wayne County Public Schools' Superintendent Steve Taylor prepared Thursday afternoon to introduce the district's volunteer of the year.
He had already received his plaque for the individual honor at North Drive Elementary School and had no expectation of hearing his name called again.
So when principal Carol Artis rose to her feet, applauding and cheering loudly, he was surprised to find himself ushered to the front of the crowd to accept the Terry Eugene Pilking-ton Volunteer of the Year award.
"I don't know what to say," he said as he reached the podium. "But in gratitude for what Ms. Artis did for us, for the kids, for the children. We are to stay here. We are able to come in here because of you."
Tan and his family moved to the U.S. from the Philippines five years ago. His wife teaches third grade at North Drive, where their youngest son Paul, 9, is a student.
Last year, Tan, a former accountant in his homeland, began volunteering at the school, working with students struggling in math, but whose impact did not stop there.
"Mr. Tan is a faithful and consistent volunteer," Ms. Artis said. "He comes three or four times per week and works with our most academically and behaviorally challenged students. Students who were below grade level have made tremendous progress, with one student improving almost 12 percentage points on the most recent benchmark test."
He also worked to improve the school's math lab and with staff to develop resources that are used schoolwide.
As he returned to his seat, his family gathered around him, smiles and pride exuding as each of his sons held their father's awards.
Eldest son Jerome, 14, would be receiving his own recognition later that evening, as he was inducted into the National Honor Society at Norwayne Middle School.
But this was his father's moment, and Jerome beamed when asked to share his sentiments.
"I just want to follow his footsteps," he said. "He taught me you have got to keep on going in life. If something is in the way, you have got to get around it. I'm just proud of him."
Three other awards were also presented for Partners in Education, or PIE, businesses and organizations that support the county schools. The small award category was for a business or organization with between 1 and 15 employees or members; medium, for having 15-50 members; and large, over 50 members or employees.
Comatha Johnson, PIE steering committee chair, announced the recipients -- Castle Manufacturing Homes, a partner at Charles B. Aycock High School for 10 years, small business; Builders Discount Center, serving at Rosewood High for over seven years, medium; and Mt. Olive Pickle Company, a partner at Carver Elementary School for more than 17 years.
Individual volunteers of the year from each school included: Eleanor Tart, Brogden Middle; Sharon Smith, Brogden Primary; Lynne Fulghum, Carver Elementary; Zella Taylor, Carver Heights Elementary; Joey Paul, Charles B. Aycock; Mark Colebrook, Dillard Middle; Wendy Kearney, Eastern Wayne Elementary; Bobby Adams, Eastern Wayne High; Mike and Christie Wiggins, Eastern Wayne Middle; Lynette Smith, Edgewood; Sherry Rose, Fremont STARS Elementary; Mary Ann Howell, Goldsboro High; Reginald Devon Davis, Grantham; Danell Foster, Greenwood Middle; Angela Stevenson, Meadow Lane Elementary; Tony Jones, Mount Olive Middle; Alison Cox, Northeast Elementary; Chris Johnson, Northwest Elementary; Jayme Whitaker, Norwayne Middle; Lori Fields, Rosewood Elementary; Stuart Kornegay, Rosewood High; Sherry Jones, Rosewood Middle; Tina Cooper, School Street Elementary; Devonya Massey, Southern Wayne High; Valerie Barwick, Spring Creek Elementary; Jan Jackson, Spring Creek High; Cemberlyn Bryant Mills, Tommy's Road Elementary; Michael Giddens, Wayne Early/Middle College High; Linda Taylor, Wayne Middle High School Academy; and Kevin Randolph, Wayne School of Engineering.