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DoDEA Pacific 2011 Volunteer Excellence Award Recipients Named

For Immediate Release — July 17, 2011 | Pacific
: Public Affairs Officer | 315-644-5657

OKINAWA, JAPAN — July 17, 2011 — DoDEA Pacific Director Diana Ohman announced today the selection of the 2011 DoDEA Pacific Volunteer Excellence Award winners.

The awards celebrate volunteer contributions to the DoDEA mission: highest student achievement. The distinguished and enduring efforts made by the selected volunteers throughout the school year earned recognition in two categories:

  • Individual Volunteer: provided exceptional service and support to their community school(s)
  • Military Individual, Unit, or Command: provided exceptional service and support to their community school(s)

Traditionally, only one area-wide award is given in the Individual Volunteer category and three levels of awards in the Military Individual, Unit or Command category. However, this year the merits of each submission were so exceptionally close for the Individual Volunteer awards that a decision was made to approve two area-wide Individual Volunteer awards. An Honorable Mention designation was also introduced this year to acknowledge the valued efforts of runner-up nominees. The selectees for school year 2010-2011:

Volunteer Excellence Award, Area-Level:
Ms. Deborah Hernandez
PTO President, Mendel Elementary School, Yokota Air Base, Japan

Ms. Marla Murray
School Advisory Committee Chairperson, CT Joy ES, Chinhae, South Korea

Honorable Mention:
Mr. Ed Bloom
Yokota High School, Yokota AB, Japan

Mrs. Kim Funk
Andersen Middle School, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam

Mrs. Lacey Hogan
Yokota HS, Yokota AB, Japan

Military Unit/Commander Excellence Award, School-level:
Col. Joseph Moore,
Garrison Commander, Camp Humphreys, South Korea

Col. Al Wimmer
Vice Commander 35th Fighter Wing, Misawa AB, Japan

Military Unit/Commander Excellence Award, District-level:
Mr. Felipe Jimenez
18th Mission Support Group, Kadena AB, Japan

Honorable Mention:
AFN Okinawa
Okinawa, Japan

Security Department
Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan

Military Unit/Commander Excellence Award, Area-level:
Operational Support Airlift Squadron
Marine Corps Base, Butler, Okinawa, Japan

Nominations are made by the DoDEA Pacific school districts and forwarded to the DoDEA Pacific area office for final review and selection.  Award recipients must be approved by the DoDEA Pacific director after careful consideration of the nominees’ total contributions and substantive impact on their respective school communities.

Volunteer Excellence Award, Area-Level:
Deborah Hernandez was selected for an individual, area-level DoDEA Pacific Volunteer Excellence Award for her many positive contributions to Mendel ES during her seven-year tenure as PTO President.

Beyond her countless volunteer hours and extra efforts during the routine turn-over of PTO board members associated with any military community, Hernandez spearheaded the PTO fundraising program to raise thousands of dollars in donations in support of scholastic and extra-curricular activities. Under her leadership, the PTO developed a highly successful reading program called “Read to the Top of Mount Fuji.” Since its inception, the program has attracted hundreds of students and parents to participate. Each year, the winning grade level is awarded a $2000 donation to purchase books for students. The PTO also organized and funded numerous cultural events that enriched students and strengthened their appreciation for their host nation.
Also receiving the area-wide Volunteer Excellence Award is Marla Murray of CT Joy ES located in Chinhae, South Korea. Murray was selected for a combination of her regular classroom volunteerism, weekly diversity lessons, multi-cultural celebrations, and selfless contributions as an active member of the PTO and SAC chairperson.
“It is always obvious that Marla Murray has the best interests of the school in mind and is truly and excellent example of a model volunteer,” read Murray’s nomination by the CT Joy ES administration and staff, “She is consistent, reliable, creative, and has enhanced the lives of staff and kids at Charles Turner Joy.”

Military Unit/Commander Excellence Award, School-level:
Like the individual Volunteer Excellence Awards, two school-level Military Unit/Commander Excellence Awards were necessary to properly recognize the equally impressive contributions made to their respective local schools by United States Army Garrison Humphreys Commander Col. Joseph Moore and 35th FW Vice Commander Col. Al Wimmer.
         Moore’s participation in Ringing in the School Year and Red Ribbon Week events is an example of how he provides his personal and professional support to Humphreys American ES. He also encourages soldiers and spouses to volunteer in the schools, which contributed directly to very high parent-teacher conference participation rates. But perhaps his most valued contribution was his fervent support for prompt maintenance and repairs of the school facilities. Moore worked closely with the Department of Public Works to ensure students and staff enjoyed safe and well-maintained learning facilities.
         “You can sum up Col. Moore’s involvement with Humphreys American Elementary School in one word, ‘partnership,’” according to the written nomination, “Col. Moore is a model for other garrison commanders.”
Wimmer was chosen for his advocacy on behalf of all DoDDS schools located on Misawa AB. He encouraged active duty personnel to volunteer in the schools and championed regular communication and partnership between the schools and tenant commands. Wimmer’s nomination by school leaders described why his support contributed to school success, “He listened to ideas or issues that might be impacting our schools and did everything within his power to help find solutions or resources to help us with those concerns.”

Military Unit/Commander Excellence Award, District-level:
Felipe Jimenez earned the district-level Military Unit/Commander Excellence Award for a depth and breadth of contributions characterized by school leaders as “invaluable.” The DoDEA Okinawa District nomination outlined a striking range of exemplary efforts on behalf of the schools.
Jimenez provided extensive logistical support to all DoDEA Okinawa schools on myriad issues including: contracting support for maintenance and repairs; optimization of gate access and school bell schedules; reserving fields and facilities to support Far East athletic events; coordinating emergency procedures and communications; facilitating military construction planning for several replacement schools on Kadena AB; and contributions to community-partnership programs such as College Night and Shadow Day.
The classroom experience was further enriched through his recruitment efforts on behalf of the annual International Kadena Special Olympics. Many students and staff members served as “huggers” for the special-needs athletes. Other school volunteers performed as cheerleaders, interpreters, and band members. And with coordination assistance from Jimenez, the Kubasaki HS Culinary Arts students enjoyed real-world catering experience by preparing approximately 4000 lunches for the participants and volunteers.

Volunteer Excellence Award, Area-Level:
With extensive airlift support throughout the Pacific theater for DoDEA Pacific senior staff, the Operational Support Airlift Squadron captured the area-level Military Unit/Commander Excellence Award. By providing highly reliable and professional service, the DoDEA Pacific director maximized time on the ground working directly with schools and senior military commanders. OSA support also saved DoDEA Pacific substantial expenses affording more resources for schools and educational programs. The support provided by OSA serves as an outstanding example of the partnerships to enhance student development envisioned by Goal 4 of the DoDEA Community Strategic Plan.
Ohman said the high caliber of the nominees made the selection process more competitive than ever and that schools rely on volunteers to “energize the school-community connection and fulfill critical needs that develop in the wake of limited budgets and staffing.”
Ohman went on to say that volunteers are part of the DoDEA Pacific success team, “We are profoundly grateful to our volunteer corps because we know that without their generous and ongoing support, we would be unable to fulfill our mission of highest student achievement.”

DoDEA Pacific provides a comprehensive preK-12 education to the children of military and eligible civilian personnel families serving throughout Asia. The 48 schools in DoDEA Pacific are comprised of more than 24,000 students and 3,100 full-time professional educators and support staff. The schools are geographically organized into four districts: Guam, Japan, Okinawa and South Korea.
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DoDEA Pacific Public Affairs

Unit 35007
APO, AP 96376
DSN: 315-644-5657
From the States: 011-81-6117-44-5657

The initiates and manages DoDEA's communications and outreach efforts for the Pacific to include Guam, Japan, Okinawa, South Korea. The office is responsible for media relations, internal information programs and communication with students, parents, teachers, school administrators and the public.