Schools Announce 'Volunteer of the Year'
Nancy Bouldry, of Pinehurst, is the Moore County Schools Eileen Vansant Volunteer of the Year for 2012.
The award was announced Thursday at a luncheon to honor school system volunteers and the contribution they make to learning. Schools Superintendent Aaron Spence praised all of the system's volunteers before announcing the award winner.
"All of our volunteers are special people," he said. "They are people who have a heart for children (and) who unselfishly sacrifice time that they could be spending doing other things. The volunteers have many talents and skills that enhance the learning experience for our students so much."
Bouldry and her English yellow Labrador companion, Abby, have volunteered at Aberdeen Elementary School for the past six years.
"I am speechless," said Bouldry after she was named the recipient of the award. "I love what I do, and it is an extension of when I had my own children in school. It is one way to give something back. It is an honor to team with Abby, and I thank you all for your support."
Bouldry said that 8-year old Abby is a big hit with Mr. Salmon's third-grade class, where she volunteers. The children read to Abby in groups of four, with all students participating throughout the year.
"Abby becomes their furniture," she said. "They bring books to her, she lies down with them and listens to what they are reading. She listens to everything."
Principal Debbie Warren of Aberdeen Elementary said that Bouldry and Abby help students "stay engaged" in their schoolwork.
"Mrs. Bouldry is very encouraging and accepting of all students and assists students in staying engaged in their learning through her positive attitude," Warren said. "Abby is a relaxing presence and helps students feel accepted and comfortable as they take on new challenges in the classroom. The Aberdeen Elementary staff have also been positively touched by Mrs. Bouldry and Abby's compassion, and each year their services are in great demand."
Bouldry's volunteer presence also assists in the students' learning, Warren said.
"Mrs. Bouldry is very dedicated to the Tail Waggin' Tutors program, and she is excited to instill a love of learning in children. She also volunteers with the Toys for Tots program for the county and touches more lives in a positive way through her involvement with that program."
Prior to the announcement of the winner, schools' spokesman Tim Lussier introduced former Moore County Schools Volunteer Coordinator Linda Hubbard, whom Lussier identified as "the person responsible for beginning this wonderful annual event."
"Ten years ago, I received a call from a teacher at Southern Pines Elementary School, who asked me to come in and meet a 'special' volunteer. Although she was 81 years old when she began volunteering, she did not let her age nor the use of a cane get in her way when it came to tutoring and being a special buddy to children at the school.
"After she became homebound and was unable to visit the school, we learned of two little girls who needed tutoring. They went to Eileen's house and her happiness returned."
Vansant passed away in April 2004.
"I know she is watching today, and on the Eileen giggle scale of one to 10, with 10 the highest, I think we would receive a 10."
Among her many recognitions, Vansant received the 2003 Governor's Award for volunteer service and the 2004 Mary Jane Kistler Volunteer Award from the North Carolina Association for Community Education.
Spence, who sat with Vansant's son and daughter, Buzz Vansant and Linda Damron, related a story the family told him during the luncheon.
"I had the pleasure of sitting with the family, and while we ate they told me a story about their mother, Eileen. She taught in a one-room schoolhouse, and one day she cut her hand and had to go to the doctor. She left the most responsible child in charge."
Spence waited for the laughter from the audience to subside before he continued.
"Times certainly have changed. Can you imagine doing that today? As superintendent, my palms began to perspire when I thought about that image."
Each of the 23 schools in the Moore County system nominated a volunteer for the award. Thursday's luncheon was attended by 57 school personnel and their guests.
Contact John Lentz at (910) 693-2479 or jlentz@ thepilot.com.
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