Volunteers honored by WCPS
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 19, 2014 10:31 PM
Zach West is presented the Terry Eugene Pilkington Volunteer of the Year Award by Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor.
An 18-year-old aspiring teacher was named the Terry Eugene Pilkington Volunteer of the Year Award recipient for Wayne County Public Schools on Wednesday afternoon.
Zach West, who graduated from Wayne Early/Middle College High School last May and is preparing to receive his associate's degree from Wayne Community College in a few weeks, has served in an array of roles at Carver Heights Elementary School throughout the school year.
Throughout the school year, he typically arrives at school at 7:20 a.m. to assist in the bus parking lot and to welcome arriving students, Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor said before announcing the young man as this year's recipient.
West has invested more than 900 volunteer hours at the school mentoring, tutoring, working with small groups, setting up classrooms, finding and creating teacher resources and taking part of an array of other student and staff activities -- all before heading off to attend his own college classes.
West took the opportunity to thank the students and teachers, as well as the school's principal, William Vann.
"He's a great principal," he said. "He nominated me for this, so that means a lot."
He said many people don't understand what goes on during the school day and also shared how important it has been to him to build relationships with students and gain a better understanding of what they go through.
"Zach has a strong understanding of the inner workings of public schools," Vann said. "He is able to recognize the needs of the students and teachers. He is an advocate who works hard to identify solutions rather than problems.
"Zach is the epitome of the perfect volunteer."
"I just really like making a difference," the young man said after he received his award. "Not just at school. Just making a difference in their (students) day, changing it from a bad day to a good day."
One of his inspirations for being drawn to the teaching profession, he said, was his mother, Julie West, a former teaching and learning coach who became assistant principal at Carver Heights. Her experience, in turn, prompted him to become a volunteer at the school.
"I started off small, but I'm out there almost every day," he said.
West plans to attend East Carolina University in the fall, where he will major in middle grades education.
"Hopefully, I can come back and teach at Dillard (Middle School)," he said.
The district also recognized two of its Partners in Education.
Since 1995, the program has expanded its role for businesses and organizations to support the schools by donating time, resources and funding.
Charlie Ivey, chairman of the PIE steering committee, announced this year's award recipients.
Nina Fields Jackson, attorney at law, was nominated by Charles B. Aycock High School. Her firm has volunteered in a variety of areas at the school for the past 15 years.
The University of Mount Olive's FFA chapter was also recognized for its partnership for the past six years with Carver Elementary School, spearheading an annual coat drive for students in need.
Each of the 31 district schools also announced their respective volunteer of the year, presenting the individuals with an engraved plaque.
* Brogden Middle, Eleanor Tart
* Brogden Primary, Judy Airgood
* Carver Elementary, Sally Coker
* Carver Heights Elementary, Zach West
* Charles B. Aycock High, Sarah Sasser
* Dillard Middle, Sharon Bell
* Eastern Wayne Elementary, Rachel Nash
* Eastern Wayne High, Vicky Le
* Eastern Wayne Middle, Kimberly Dean
* Edgewood, Stephanie Luna
* Fremont STARS Elementary, Paula Tyndall Steele (posthumously)
* Goldsboro High School, Raymond Bryant
* Grantham, Renee Bryan
* Greenwood Middle, Jane Mull
* Meadow Lane Elementary, Christy Stevenson
* Mount Olive Middle, Belita Whitman
* North Drive Elementary, Annetta Reid
* Northeast Elementary, Pat Scott
* Northwest Elementary, Molly Henry
* Norwayne Middle, Tammy Bauguess
* Rosewood Elementary, Kelly Harris
* Rosewood High, Sherry Jones
* Rosewood Middle, Alex Hayden
* School Street Elementary, Rosemary Singleton
* Southern Wayne High, Belinda Parent
* Spring Creek Elementary, Ronda Barfield
* Spring Creek High, Chris Bryson
* Tommy's Road Elementary, Josephine Best
* Wayne Early/Middle College High, Deborah Gross
* Wayne Middle High School Academy, Dr. Thomas Smith
* Wayne School of Engineering, Christopher Mehlhaff