By Lisa Farese

St. Johns County School District recognized outstanding school volunteers at the district level on March 30 in the categories of youth, adult and senior volunteers. After the votes were tallied from the more than 40 schools in the district, Ocean Palm Elementary’s senior volunteer, Sharon Kehoe, took home the district’s Outstanding Senior Volunteer of the Year award. Additionally, PTO presidents Jennifer Werba of Ocean Palms and Kristin Glunt of Landrum tied for second place in the Outstanding Adult Volunteer of the Year category. Finally, Evie Smith, Landrum student and Ocean Palm’s youth volunteer, was recognized at the event — a true testament to the dedicated volunteers in our community. 

For the past 13 years, Kehoe has worked to fight childhood hunger as the coordinator of the local Blessings in a Backpack program. Here she plans meals, organizes volunteer teams and work locations, fundraises for purchases, and delivers food backpacks to 195 students in need in local schools. Believing that, “Kids don’t choose to be hungry,” she is an inspiration to volunteers everywhere.

Werba, Ocean Palms’ PTO president, has tirelessly led the initiative to secure funding and installation to not one, but two phases of playground renovations. Additionally, she has helped secure new technology for the school such as computers and printers. She has also worked to ensure the teachers and staff are regularly recognized and appreciated for their dedication to education with teacher appreciation lunches and gifts. 

Glunt, Landrum PTO president, has worked to ensure the teachers feel appreciated at Landrum — something that often goes by the wayside at the middle school level. From a complete remodel of the staff lounge, to regular giveaways and gift cards, to surprise theme decorating of the staff lounge, to lunches and cookouts, the staff feel honored and recognized on a regular basis.

As a familiar face at Ocean Palms, Smith volunteers to help the kindergarten teachers read with students, organize supplies, set up class lessons, and assist children with classroom learning in various ways. She has enhanced the lives of seven teachers and more than 150 students in her endeavors.

Photo courtesy Lisa Farese 

Jennifer Werba, OPE PTO president and runner up; Evie Smith, youth volunteer from OPE; Sharon Kehoe, Senior Volunteer of the Year award winner; Tiffany Cantwell, OPE principal; Kristin Glunt, Landrum PTO president and runner up at the St. Johns County School District awards event.

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