Sunrise Volunteer Named Hero for Children

Sunrise Volunteer Named Hero for Children by SBOE
Orlando Lopez

September 9, 2015 – The State Board of Education (SBOE) will honor 15 Texans who provide hundreds of hours of volunteer service to Texas public schools at the Heroes for Children award at the SBOE meeting on Friday, September 11 in Austin. Local hero Orlando Lopez will receive this award for his dedication to serving the students of Sunrise Elementary with programs such as Tiger Parent Teacher Organization, Leaders are Readers, Boys to Men, and Women of Worth.

The Heroes for Children honorees are selected by the State Board members and recognized for volunteering their time, talents and skills to help improve the public schools in their communities.

Lopez shared in an essay about his service to Sunrise the importance he sees in students learning to invest in their community and how much hope is in the future. “I volunteer at Sunrise because I believe little things done with great love have a large impact,” Lopez shared. “I may not have a student at Sunrise, but I love the students and staff. I identify with the typical Sunrise student.”

Sunrise is a Title I school receiving federal funding to ensure it’s nearly 90 percent of economically disadvantaged students are provided the support necessary to meet challenging academic standards. According to the Texas Academic Performance Report for the 2013-2014 school year, 23.5 percent of Sunrise students are English Language Learners.

“There are cultural experiences I have had as an adult I would never have dreamed were possible as a child of poverty,” Lopez explained. “Why shouldn’t a child who is in a strings course know what an actual symphony or ballet is like? Let them get a taste of life beyond poverty and see them make the commitment to one of the main keys to breaking poverty’s cycle – education.”

Lopez and his wife lead mentor programs for the fifth-grade boys and girls at Sunrise, focusing on self-esteem and leadership skills. In the Boys to Men and Women of Worth lessons taught once a week, the Lopezes’ communicate their desire to see these children succeed by hosting special guests such as city and school district leadership to share personal stories and converse with the children about their own education and career potential.

Nominating Lopez for this honor was an easy decision for Amarillo ISD Program Director of Community Partnerships Denise Blanchard.

“He and his wife have selflessly given their time and have embraced the students at Sunrise,” Blanchard said. “Orlando has stepped into many roles over the years, including helping out at school functions, rounding up door prizes and helping teachers with tasks that help make their jobs a little less stressful. These seemingly small acts of kindness speak volumes to our staff.”

Each hero will receive a certificate of honor, a copy of the resolution scheduled for board approval and photographs commemorating the ceremony. Each hero will also have his or her name engraved on a plaque which will be permanently displayed at the Texas Education Agency.

The State Board of Education meeting and award ceremony will be broadcast online. A link to the webcast will be posted at http://www.texasadmin.com/tea.shtml .

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