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U-46 Honors Districtwide Volunteers

May 22, 2020

School District U-46 annually recognizes many of the volunteers who so generously give their time and talents at the school and District level. For the 2019-20 school year, U-46 names longtime TalentFest volunteer Jeff Grosser as the 2020 Volunteer of the Year, for his extraordinary contribution at the District level. 

“In its tenth year, TalentFest has grown to be an event where students can showcase their many gifts and skills as they compete against their peers from our five high schools” said U-46 Superintendent Tony Sanders. “It has become a staple event in our community, and we appreciate Jeff Grosser’s dedication since initiating this districtwide event.”

TalentFest invites students from the five U-46 high schools to enter the contest with a performance that is judged and voted on by the audience in the first round and a panel of judges in the second round. Winners receive a cash prize as well as a commemorative plaque. In addition, the school whose act receives the most total audience votes is awarded the traveling TalentFest Trophy.

Each year since 2017, the District presents its second category, Helping Hands Award, to recognize the work of volunteers at the school level. Glenbrook Elementary School volunteer Nicole Martinez is this year’s Helping Hands award recipient. 

Nicole has been a volunteer at Glenbrook Elementary School in Streamwood for more than five years, serving in various capacities on the school parent-teacher organization, being an advocate for all students on the school’s School Improvement Planning team, and representing the school in various committees of the U-46 Citizens’ Advisory Council. 

As she completes her volunteer work, Nicole always keeps in mind the needs of all students and works to ensure that everyone is represented. When she found out that some girls did not have a father in their lives, she launched the school’s first Adult/Daughter Dance, allowing students to bring a parent figure to the event. Nicole also checks regularly with school leaders and staff to find the best way to collaborate with families, and she can be found welcoming parents and students at all school events. 

“With her friendly personality and personal touch, Nicole’s service and commitment to Glenbrook has brought a higher attendance to school events, a stronger communication between the staff and families,” said Principal Cheryl DeRoo. “Making her an essential helping hand at Glenbrook.”

This year’s nominees included six for the Volunteer of the Year Award and 13 for the Helping Hands category. Typically, the nominees are recognized and celebrated at a gathering with fellow volunteers at the Educational Services Center. The global pandemic means U-46 can’t celebrate these wonderful individuals in person, but all 19 nominees are highlighted on the District’s Facebook page.