By Martie Thompson
Like many people, Michelle Clark and her husband Jim moved with their three sons to St. Johns County due to the excellent schools. Fast forward 15 years and Clark has been awarded a major honor by the St. Johns County School District and Florida Department of Education: Outstanding Adult Volunteer for the county and Region II Outstanding Adult Volunteer, making her one of the top five adult school volunteers in the state of Florida.
Clark has a business degree from Bridgewater College in Virginia and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Lynchburg College. She worked in human resources for Nabisco and then in career development with Randolph Macon Women’s College before moving to St. Johns County.
All three of her sons, Jimmy, Andy and Matt, attended NW St. Johns County schools. Jimmy and Andy graduated from Creekside High School and Matt is graduating this year. Jimmy and Matt, both well known and accomplished local track and cross country athletes, continued their running careers at the University of Florida, with Jimmy graduating last year and Matt entering this year. Andy excelled at tennis and received his associate’s degree at Florida State College at Jacksonville before transferring to either NYU or The New School this fall to complete his bachelor’s in history.
1. What brought your family to St. Johns County and what do you like most about living here?
My husband’s job transferred him here from Virginia. We moved here because of the schools and have lived in our home in Julington Creek Plantation since 2002. My favorite part about living here is the community. I feel that we have been surrounded by people who model leadership with grace, humility, diplomacy and gratitude.
2. How did you get your start volunteering?
I started volunteering in schools when my oldest, Jimmy, started school and then continued when we moved to St. Johns County. I have volunteered at Julington Creek, Fruit Cove K-8, Durbin Creek Elementary, Fruit Cove Middle and then the last nine years at Creekside.
3. What are the favorite things you contributed during your time as a volunteer?
I have three fun projects that stand out. The first was being on the very first board of the Creekside Knights Athletic Booster Club. This was an amazing group of volunteers who came together to form the athletic booster club and we had a great sense of camaraderie. Secondly, I enjoyed being on the planning committee for the first Running of the Knights, which is the school’s biggest fundraiser and recently celebrated its seventh year. It has been wonderful to watch it grow. Finally, being a School Ambassador at Creekside. This program was formed in 2012 with the Guidance Department to help them assist families new to the school. Ambassadors give school tours and can be adults or students from the Knights of the Roundtable.
4. How did you find out that you were awarded the St. Johns County Outstanding Adult Volunteer?
I was called to the principal’s office one day and there Mr. Johnson told me I had been awarded the district’s volunteer of the year. Then we went outside his office and Superintendent Forson as well as other district personnel were there with my son and coaches with balloons and flowers for me. Everyone knew but me! It was a big surprise.
5. You will soon be an empty nester. What are your future plans once all the boys have graduated from high school?
I feel called to serve. People around me have inspired me and so I plan to look for more opportunities to serve now that my days at Creekside are nearly over. Last summer I started volunteering with Haven Hospice and training with their pet therapy program. I take our dog, Rina, an Italian greyhound, to an assisted living facility in St. Augustine to visit the residents. Often, they don’t remember who I am, but they remember Rina! I also am training to volunteer for the St. Johns County School District on the Five Star review team, which reviews the programs in the county’s schools for the Five Star award.
Photo by Martie Thompson