It is with great pleasure and admiration that Northport K-8 School present to Rev. Dr. Rad Orlandi our highest achievement award as Northport Senior Volunteer of the Year for the 2017-2018 school year. Dr. Orlandi has demonstrated a true commitment to Northport with his organizational ability, his communication skills and his real care and concern for the children who attend the Title I school.

At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, Dr. Orlandi approached the school media specialist with a plan. Since the school and the church were where Rad serves as an assistant pastor, First United Methodist church of Port Saint Lucie was so close and the church and school were neighbors, why not work together and collaborate to bring volunteers and reading initiatives to Northport? Rad’s main goal when collaborating with the school was to bring people with the time and the drive to help children in need together with the school administration, teachers and students to place a volunteer from the church into each K-2 Northport classroom.

The plan worked and the initiative started with a flourish. At this time, there are at least fifteen adult and student volunteers from First United Methodist Church of Port Saint Lucie who volunteer their time regularly to help teachers with read alouds, small group instruction, tutoring and mentoring. These services are vital to the functioning of the school. Northport has worked without pause to bring our Title I school from a C grade to a B grade. We believe that community dedication to teaching and learning has played a huge role in helping us move forward as a school and help our students progress.

Rad also spearheaded the Northport Summer Reading initiative last school year. The church worked as a group to collect 1,005 new or gently used books to kick-start the Northport summer reading program. Volunteers from the church delivered the books to the school. The books were set up like a store in the media center and students in grades VPK through fifth grade, including all exceptional education students, were able to “shop” for at least three books each. Students were instructed to keep their stack of books in a special place to remind them to read each day over the summer. It was a wonderful program. This school year, First United Methodist Church (FUMC) reached out to First Baptist Church of Port Saint Lucie to deepen the summer reading program by collecting enough books for the entire school, including all middle grades students.

Rad and the people of FUMC also collected ninety backpacks for needy students for the 2017-2018 school year. The backpacks were loaded with much needed school supplies — enough supplies for the entire year. When Rad and the volunteers from FUMC of Port Saint Lucie visit Northport, the students are excited to see them. The children know that the church volunteers love and care about them and that extra learning for the students and the support for the teacher are vital.

Rad has volunteered at Northport for two years and has employed a weekly average, including all program initiatives, of approximately five hours per week. Rad and his wife, Pat, volunteer in Michelle Kemp’s third grade class weekly, but his reach into the school has been all encompassing. The church initiatives touch all aspects of the school and extend into all classrooms.

Rad’s goal for this year is to increase volunteersism and to help bring in more churches to support student learning and teacher and family needs. The collaboration is a win for the school and a win for the church. Everyone involved just loves helping out the children and families in their own community.

A huge thank you to Reverend Dr. Rad Orlandi and to all the members of the First United Methodist Church of Port Saint Lucie for adding the children of Northport to the top of their community outreach program

Author: LYNNE Gruszka

Northport K-8 School Media and Marketing Specialist