Volunteer Spotlights

The Volunteer Spotlights Series is an initiative of the Volunteer Appreciation Committee.

What are Volunteers Spotlights?
We know that Forest Trail is an amazing school, but we may not realize all of the moving parts - and people - powering the quality we have come to know and love. In September of 2016, we kicked off a new series called "Volunteer Spotlights" to acknowledge one of the many generous, passionate volunteers at our school, every week. We can't thank these people enough for showing up, sharing, and caring. 

Volunteer Spotlights on Amy Clark, Alison Bogle, and Jacqueline will publish shortly! 
Check back soon!

Merideth Jones, School Supplies Chair - October 27, 2016

Submitted by Christie Schultz

This week’s Volunteer Spotlight is on Merideth Jones, our 2016-17 School Supplies Chair. Chances are, if you're an FTE parent, you ordered your child's school supplies package with ease online because of Merideth's dedication to making sure that the


package encompassed grade-level teachers' needs while minding the budget of our parents. The work begins in the early Spring, collaborating with staff to come up with a succinct supplies list for every grade. At an unprecedentedly early date, the beginning of April this year, Merideth's full gamut of Kindergarten through 5th grade school supplies were ready for parents to purchase on the Hub. She monitored the orders throughout the summer, ensuring their timely delivery a few weeks before school started and assembling a volunteer crew of two dozen parents and students who helped distribute the crates' worth of supplies to individual classrooms. For those of us who visited our children's classrooms on Muffin Morning and unpacked supplies, we owe our convenience and the seamlessness on our end, to Merideth's hard work.

But Merideth's service to our school didn't just begin this year. While working full time and managing a busy household with two children, Merideth has made volunteering for our school a priority. This is Merideth's second year as the School Supplies chair, and she has been a Homeroom Parent in her children's classrooms for six years. Merideth served for three years as Staff Appreciation Co-Chair, a substantial responsibility at which she excelled. With four to five major Staff Appreciation events every school year involving the coordination of dozens of volunteers, procurement of food and beverages, and the strategic planning to pull these off on a budget for over sixty staff members, this position was no small role. Our staff tell us that knowing they are appreciated is a considerable factor in their professional satisfaction. We are thankful for Merideth's part in helping us to attract and maintain the fantastic staff that we have.

Thank you, Merideth, for all you do for FTE!

A Few Q&A's with Merideth:

Q. What made you want to volunteer in your committee? A. I have enjoyed the roles I’ve been in at FTE and try to stay in a consistent position to become a better volunteer each year.

Q. What motivates you most to keep giving your time to our school? A. I love Forest Trail, the staff and children I want to help when I can. If I give time, hopefully it makes someone’s job easier or more manageable. I also want my children to see me as a part of their school and how we value the learning they experience every day.

Q. Tell us about your family. A. Jacob is a 3rd grader and Kate is in 6th grade at West Ridge.

Q. What other hobbies do you have? A. I love to be with my family, exercise, shop, spend time with friends and travel.

Q. What is your "happy place" in this world? A. My “happy place” are Saturdays. I love Saturdays!! I don’t mind if the day is wide-open or packed with activities or plans. It’s my favorite day of the week.

Q. What is a "little known factoid" about you?  A. I was in the first 5th grade class at FTE and Mrs. Lewis was my PE teacher!

Laura Boone, Fifth Grade Events Co-Chair, Falcon Friends Chair, and Science Fest Volunteer Coordinator - 
October 20, 2016

Submitted by Christie Schultz
This week’s Volunteer Spotlight is on Laura Boone, whose list of 2016-17 roles would tire most of us out just reading! She is currently our Fifth Grade Events Co-Chair, Falcon Friends Chair, and Science Fest Volunteer Coordinator, but Laura's dedication to our school dates back many years. Since her oldest first entered Forest Trail in 2009, Laura has served as a Class Art Project volunteer for the annual Auction & Party, a Homeroom Parent, School Store Co-Chair, a Show Choir and Drama Decorations Committee member, a Parent Socials co-host, an Auction & Party Solicitations Committee member, and can regularly be spotted as a class party volunteer. Laura is this year's FTE Mother-Daughter Retreat Co-Chair as well, with her commitment to her community also reaching past the school environment. She is a Girl Scout troop leader, Heart to Heart leader, volunteer at Austin Ridge Bible Church, and has served as Coordinator as well as group leader for After School Kids. The common threads in Laura's roles are developing relationships, creating enriching experiences, and bettering the lives of children and families. She is effective, reliable, and always first to organize a way to help a family in need. As a busy mom of three children, all involved in sports and other extracurriculars, Laura provides a powerful model of balance, compassion, and service. Laura is an anchor for our community, and our community is a better place because of her ongoing and irreplaceable dedication. Thank you, Laura, for all you do!

A Few Q&A's with Laura:

Q. What made you want to volunteer in your committee? A. I enjoy serving in areas where I can interact with both the parents and kids.

Q. What motivates you most to keep giving your time to our school? A. Seeing the students and staff in action

Q. Tell us about your family. Jacob - 7th grade at WRMS ; Claire - 5th grade; Sawyer - 2nd grade

Q. What other hobbies do you have? A. traveling, seeing live music, reading

Q. What is your "happy place" in this world? A. I can't narrow it down if you give me the whole world, but in Texas, it's The Blue Hole in Wimberley.

Q. What is a "little known factoid" about you? A. I played golf in high school (and went to State!). Now I only pick up a club to swing at my kids. J/K ;)

Debbie Lopez, No-Hassle Fundraiser Co-Chair, Bingo Concessions Co-Chair, and Auction & Party Decorations Chair - October 13, 2016

Submitted by Christie Schultz

This week’s Volunteer Spotlight is on Debbie Lopez, our 2016-17 No-Hassle Fundraiser Co-Chair, Bingo Concessions Co-Chair, and Auction & Party Decorations Chair! Phew! And that’s just this school year!

Debbie has been an energetic, innovative, irreplaceable contributor to our school community since her oldest child first enrolled in 2009. She served as a Science Fest presenter for several years, often alongside her husband Roger, wowing students with their Hogwarts costumes and impressive hands-on experiments. Borrowing from her great experience as a presenter Debbie then co-chaired Science Fest, elevating the program to new standards of excellence and expanding the technical capabilities for priority registration and for volunteer management. Her expertise didn’t end with science however. Debbie has served as a homeroom parent, Parent Socials co-host, and was a key member of the Auction Solicitations Committee, procuring items for a very successful silent auction. For the past two years she has co-chaired Bingo Concessions, mastering the tricky task of bringing in the right products and quantities for that popular family event. Perhaps Debbie’s name is most familiar recently because of her huge dedication to the No-Hassle Fundraiser this year. In the first 30 days of school, Debbie had already poured in dozens of hours into helping to make the No-Hassle Fundraiser a record-breaker. We haven’t ever seen a campaign at FTE with as much participation from the school community, nor as large of a total amount raised.

In addition to her service at FTE, Debbie is a busy mom of 2nd and 4th graders at FTE, and a 7th grader at West Ridge Middle School. She has also been an Eanes Education Foundation FTE campus representative, works full-time as a Cardiovascular Regional Medical Liaison under medical affairs for Sanofi, maintains her position as a Clinical Adjunct Professor in the UT College of Pharmacy, and is an Independent Ambassador for India Hicks. Debbie’s fresh ideas, lightning-fast execution, laser-like focus on the project goals, and seemingly boundless energy are truly gifts to our community. Most who work with her echo the sentiment: If Debbie’s in charge, you know it will get done and it will be awesome! Forest Trail Elementary owes an immeasurable debt of gratitude to Debbie for all she gives!

A Few Q&A's with Debbie:

Q. What made you want to volunteer in your committee? A. 
I wanted to try something new with NHF as I've always done Bingo Concessions and was a Hogwarts presenter for several years. 

Q. What motivates you most to keep giving your time to our school? A. My kids are a big motivator as they benefit from anyone volunteering. I also have a flexible schedule that allows me to volunteer when I'm not traveling.

Q. Tell us about your family. A. 
Roger is my husband, Rylan is a 7th grader at West Ridge, Rowan is a 4th grader and Darcy is a 2nd grader. We also have 2 guinea pigs- Georgina and Longhorn, and a cat named Kerbey.

Q. What other hobbies do you have? A. Shopping anywhere anytime is always a favorite past time and I love scary movies, thrilling rides and haunted houses. 

Q. What is your "happy place" in this world? A. On the beach listening to the waves and seagulls and wine country!

Q. What is a "little known factoid" about you? A. I have a super strong sense of smell which is sometimes not a good thing. 

Carrie Wilkin, Parent Socials Co-Chair - October 6, 2016

Submitted by Christie Schultz

This week’s Volunteer Spotlight is on Carrie Wilkin, our 2016-17 Parent Socials Co-Chair. But as Carrie herself would say, this ain’t her first rodeo in leadership at FTE! In fact, it might be a shorter list to mention what Carrie hasn’t done for FTE since her three boys first began attending in 2005!

Carrie has been a homeroom mom an estimated 10 times, and has chaired or co-chaired the following staggering list of committees: Auction & Party, Class Art Projects for Auction, Staff Appreciation Committee, VP of Fundraising, and several large Fifth Grade Events roles: (first ever!) T-Shirt Chair, Party Chair, and Graduation Chair. She’s co-hosted Parent Socials (formerly “Progressive Dinners”) 9 times, with about 5 hosted at her home.

In addition to her service at FTE, Carrie also gives generously of her time and talents to the Eanes Education Foundation. After spending 6 years as an EEF campus and grade-level representative for FTE, Carrie now serves as the 2016-17 Eanes Education Foundation Teacher Fund Drive Chair. It’s a hugely important role for that organization’s ability to fund teachers in our district.

Carrie doesn't just "do" these roles. She pours her everything into them. She shows up, cares, and shares all she can. And has a blast while she's at it. Though Carrie’s a busy mom to three boys in sports at two schools and has obviously already given us so much of her time, we are so glad that she still makes time for FTE! Thank you, Carrie, for all you do for FTE and our greater community!
A Few Q&A's with Carrie:

Q. What made you want to volunteer in your committee? A. I volunteered for Parent Socials Co-Chair because I have loved hosting these parties in the past! I love how they help parents meet and connect and bring our amazing FTE community closer together! PLUS (and most importantly) I want to stay involved at FTE with my last boy in my last few years there!!

Q. What motivates you most to keep giving your time to our school? A. I keep giving time to FTE and my other boys' schools because, quite honestly, I love doing it. I get more out of it than I give...I have met a million people...learned lots of new skills...been stretched and challenged...seen firsthand the fruits of my labors...made so many teachers and staff feel appreciated, supported and loved...been reminded daily of why I am grateful for my community, my kids and their schools...and so, so many more reasons.

Q. Tell us about your family. A. My husband, Kurt, and I have 3 boys... a 4th grader, an 8th grader and an 11th grader. We live a busy, sports-filled life with travel and laughter and adventure mixed in when we can!

Q. What other hobbies to you have? A. I play tennis twice a week for the competition for sure...but also for the ladies and the lunches!

Q. What is your "happy place" in this world? A. My happy place? Hmmm... on a plane with my family headed for an adventure together??

Cami Dato, Carnival Chair - September 29, 2016
Submitted by Christie Schultz

This week’s Volunteer Spotlight is on Cami Dato, our FTE Carnival Chair for the fifth straight year. Cami has been involved with the Carnival for a total of six years, running it completely on her own in recent years and establishing it as an annual mainstay of family fun for our community.

Her commitment is deep. In the Spring of 2016, Cami chaired the FTE Carnival in the year lapse between her kids' attendance at FTE. She had no children enrolled in FTE at that time, as her 6th grader had just moved onto middle school and her preschooler had one more year before Kindergarten. Yet still she poured her time, talents, and generous spirit into the FTE Carnival for us.

Alongside Carnival, Cami served as the Science Fest Volunteer Coordinator for two years, Parent Social host, Art Project volunteer in her classrooms, and did an amazing job as the Silent Auction Chair for our annual Auction & Party. Generally speaking, Cami can be found rolling up her sleeves on any project at FTE where she can. As busy mom of three children - one at FTE, one at West Ridge Middle School, and one at Westlake High School - she is often described as a “superwoman” and an incredible gift to our community.

In addition to her dedication to FTE, Cami chairs several charity events and fundraising campaigns in a typical year, with ALS a particularly special cause for her. She is tireless, caring, giving, funny, and always pours 110% into everything she does. Thank you for all you do for FTE, Cami!

A Few Q&A's with Cami:

Q. What made you want to volunteer in your committee? A. I really enjoy getting to know other parents and the kids at FTE. The best way to do that is by being involved with events that focus on our kids and parents.

Q. What motivates you most to keep giving your time to our school? A. It's wonderful to give back to our kids and school. I love seeing an event unfold and how much the attendees enjoy them.

Q. Tell us about your family. A. I am married to my best friend whom I met in elementary school. I have an amazing and beautiful 16 year old daughter (Junior at WHS). I have an energetic soccer playing 13 year old son (7th grade at WRMS). And to round out my family, I have a spunky fun loving 5 year old son (Kindergarten at FTE).

Q. What other hobbies do you have? A. I am an artist, love designing and creating things, really enjoy networking people, a bit of marketing and figure skating (back in the day).

Q. What is your "happy place" in this world? A. My happy place is going out on the boat to Lake Austin with family and friends.

Q. What is a "little known factoid" about you? A. I began (ice) figure skating when I was 4 years old. In 1990 I began coaching in Austin, created/coached an amazing synchronized skating team (always undefeated, ending up National Champions several times). Lastly... I am a Westlake grad! Go Chaps!!

Tim Toomey, Landscaping Chair - September 22, 2016
Submitted by Christie Schultz

This week’s Volunteer Spotlight is on Tim Toomey, formally our 2016-17 Landscaping Chair. But in truth he's so much more to FTE. Tim is an FTE father of two, who has diligently shared his time and talents with FTE for years. Owner of Brick by Brick Moving, Tim generously lends his brains and brawn to a variety of FTE projects ranging from our annual auction to maintaining the grounds, to moving Mr. McCasland’s commemorative bench and stone, now on the playground and in the FTE Garden, under the hot sun this summer. Tim has donated dozen of hours of his time along with his employees’ time moving delicate art items for our auctions and heavy rentals required to pull off FTE’s large-scale events, setting up for Carnival, and everything in between. He shows up early, stays late, and always brings his professional expertise, his big truck and trailer, reliability, and a smile to every volunteer day he shares.

Tim is often joined by his wife Nicole, who wholeheartedly supports their joint passions for volunteering and helping to make our community the amazing place it is. Tim is also the Cubmaster for Pack 30, the Cub Scouts organization that is chartered by the FTE Booster Club. It’s a huge role that services nearly one hundred 1st through 5th FTE graders every year. Tim’s dedication to our school and community is an invaluable, and we can’t thank him enough for all he does.

A Few Q&A's with Tim:

Q. What made you want to volunteer in your committee? A. Over the years, being known as a dad that can do some heavy lifting and get some hard work done, I’ve been called upon for various landscaping and other related jobs. Landscape chair is a fun title, and encompasses things I’d gladly do for the school anyway.

Q. What motivates you most to keep giving your time to our school? A. Helping people is hugely rewarding for me (right up there with feeding people and making people laugh). Also tremendously motivating is the community of parents and other contributors that give to Forest Trail daily, and the benefit that our kids receive because of it.

Q. Tell us about your family. A. My wife, Nicole, and my boys, Michael (5th grade) and Travis (3rd grade), are my family. Also recent additions to our household are my mother, Leslie, and my father-in-law, Tom. It’s been great to have grandparents around the kids on a regular basis, as they grow up. And I should mention our three dogs, Timmy, Sally, and Bogie. (Yes, I have a dog named Timmy.)

Q. What other hobbies do you have? A. Love to play sports. Of course, I watch my kids play more than I play myself anymore, and it’s so fun to watch them become great athletes, and try to coach them as much as a dad can.

Q. What is your "happy place" in this world? A. I’m happiest in a place that at least feels like I’m in the wilderness. Austin is good for that, with the many greenbelts and city parks, where I can get lost on a walk with my dogs, and pretend I’m in the middle of nowhere for a while.

Q. What might we not know yet about Tim Toomey? A. I’m pretty good at doing voices and impressions, mostly of characters - Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck. It’s been a fun thing to impress my kids with! Several years ago, I auditioned to be the Aflac duck voice. Was a fun experience!

Madelynn Arnold, Garden Co-Chair - September 15, 2016
Submitted by Christie Schultz

This week’s Volunteer Spotlight is on Madelynn Arnold, one of our fabulous 2016-17 Garden Co-Chairs. Madelynn chaired the Garden on her own in the 2015-16 school year, pouring in hundreds of hours and transforming it in innovative ways. She implemented the Square Foot Garden planting method, completely renovating the space into an even more beautiful, nurturing environment for students. Madelynn has been an integral part of the curriculum enrichment initiatives now rolling out this Fall, which pair classroom lessons with complementary garden activities, deepening the absorption of the material.

Madelynn has worked tirelessly for the past year, including tending to garden's summer needs in scorching temperatures. She plans to continue with her vision to consistently improve our FTE Garden, giving our children an incredible opportunity to learn about nature that simply wouldn’t exist without dedication of volunteers like her. Thank you, Madelynn, for all you do!

A Few Q&A's with Madelynn:

Q. What made you want to volunteer in your committee? A. It's the perfect blend of filling a need for our school garden plus a personal interest of mine. I want our students to understand where their food comes from and to enjoy the wonders of our local ecology.  Like those who founded our garden, (thank you Mr. McCasland and Kristen Paull) I believe a connection to the natural world is fundamental in education.
Q. What motivates you to keep giving your time to our school? I love the volunteer spirit at our school!  We all work together toward the best experience for our kids and teachers.  Someone else helps my son in the library and I help out in the garden, etc. I have wonderful support from Booster Club and my two Co-Chairs Melissa Blue and LB Townsend. I appreciate the enthusiasm for the garden and feedback from parents like, "They're learning lessons for life!" 
Q. Tell us about your family. A. John is my supportive and handy husband.  He attached the self-closing hinge on the garden gate and helped drill all the holes for the Square Foot Garden plating method..  He's also coaching FTE's under 8 Westlake Youth Soccer team this fall. Jacob is our "respectful" and "enthusiastic" second grader in Ms. Bloomer's class.  Thankfully he enjoys helping in the garden and caring for the chickens! The fourth member of our family is a Border Collie-Lab mix sweetie named Liza Jane.  She's often with us in the garden on weekends.  
Q. What is your happy place in this world? A. Early mornings, coffee in hand, staring at my backyard as the light changes and the birds chirp and then our boy bounds in and our daily adventure begins.

Sharon Rossie, Copy Room Chair - September 8, 2016
Submitted by Christie Schultz

Our first Volunteer Spotlight is on Sharon Rossie, Chairperson of the Copy Room. Sharon’s job began weeks before school started, right along with the first teachers who begin preparing for the school year. Usually with few volunteers in the first weeks of school before shifts are established, she begins the important jobs of getting billboard items die cut, worksheets printed, and names labels laminated for desks and cubbies. She then recruits and trains a team of volunteers to keep the Copy Room staffed almost every hour of each school day of the year. 

She puts in dozens of hours each month to keep the Copy Room chugging along efficiently and reliably. This support frees up our teachers to do what they do best: spend time teaching our kids. Thank you, Sharon, for all you do!

A Few Q&A's with Sharon:

Q. What made you want to volunteer in your committee? A. I thought it would be a great way to give back to the whole school. 

Q. What motivates you most to keep giving your time to our school? A. Hearing how much the teachers and staff appreciated the copy room volunteers. 

Q. Tell us about your family. A. We have Sabrina (4th grade) and James (1st grade), and my husband is James.

Q. What other hobbies do you have? A. I am on the leadership team of a great ministry called Fearless Mom

Q. What is your "happy place" in this world? A. Aboard a cruise ship

Q. Is there a "little known factoid" about Sharon you might want to share? A. I am allergic to chicken. :)