PENCIL Foundation honors more than 30 years of volunteers in Metro Schools

Parents know it, teachers know it and students know it: Metro schools thrive on volunteers. It's why we are so grateful to have the PENCIL Foundation as a key partner. For more than 30 years, PENCIL Partners have donated countless volunteer hours to our students and schools. At a beautiful luncheon last week, PENCIL recognized some of the very best and most dedicated of these volunteers. They represent groups that have given generously of their time and resources to make schools better. Fittingly, the event is called "BRAVO!". Mayor Karl Dean presented the awards himself.

Here are the winners:

Cover Art

  • Winner - Chloe Boissiere
  • Honorable Mentions Kylie Singleton Mardus Miller Kijani X

Enduring Partnerships Awards


  • Salama Urban Ministries, Inc. and Carter-Lawrence Elementary Magnet
  • Belmont Heights Baptist Church and Fall-Hamilton Elementary Enhanced Option
  • The Buntin Group and Carter-Lawrence Elementary Magnet
  • Fifty Forward and Fall-Hamilton Elementary Enhanced Option
  • McDonald's Management Company and Brick Church Middle
  • Pinnacle Financial Partners and Tom Joy Elementary
  • 15th Avenue Baptist Church and Buena Vista Elementary Enhanced Option
  • The Frist Center for the Visual Arts and Hume-Fogg High Academic Magnet
  • Belle Meade Plantation and Buena Vista Elementary Enhanced Option
  • Greater Nashville Association of REALTORS and H. G. Hill Middle
  • Christ Presbyterian Church and Glencliff Elementary
  • Watkins College of Art & Design and Buena Vista Elementary Enhanced Option


  • The Nashville Symphony and Nashville School of the Arts
  • Northside Church of Christ and Bellshire Elementary
  • Southminster Presbyterian Church and Norman Binkley Elementary
  • Ray of Hope Community Church and Glenn Elementary Enhanced Option
  • Trevecca Nazarene University and J. T. Moore Middle
  • Granny's Flower Shop and J. T. Moore Middle
  • Kroger, Nashboro Village and Lakeview Elementary


  • Belmont University, Department of Education and Overton High
  • Kroger, Eastland
  • Kroger, Donelson and McGavock Elementary
  • Permanent General Companies


  • Kroger, Goodlettsville and Goodlettsville Elementary
  • Davidson County Juvenile Court and Stratton Elementary
  • Alley-Cassetty Coal Company and Glenn Elementary Enhanced Option
  • Kroger, Bellevue and Harpeth Valley Elementary
  • Earl Swensson Associates
  • Metro Nashville Airport Authority


  • Belmont Church and Carter Lawrence Elementary Magnet
  • Saint Thomas Health Services
  • Lipscomb University
  • Piedmont Natural Gas
  • Citizens Bank

Outstanding School Partnership

  • Winner - Hospital Corporation of America in partnership with Hillwood High School Over the past year alone, HCA volunteers have logged over 200 volunteer hours.  They’ve provided classroom speakers, hosted two college and career fairs, a teacher externship and a school beautification day.  They also conducted student internships at Centennial Hospital and judged student capstone projects -- all with the goal of increasing graduation rates, daily attendance and ACT scores.   HCA also contributed $100,000 to build an additional health science lab where students can earn their EMS and CNA certifications BEFORE they graduate high school.
  • Honorable Mention - US Community Credit Union in partnership with McGavock High School In this exemplary partnership, there is actually a student-run USCCU branch located at McGavock High.  A loaned employee manages the branch daily during banking hours and works with the students who run the bank itself.  Students opening an account are counseled on how to balance a checkbook and manage their finances.  Over 600 students have participated in their financial literacy, marketing and sales program.  In the past year alone, over 2,250 hours of volunteer service have been logged by USCCU.
  • Honorable Mention - Deloitte in partnership with Antioch High School When Deloitte professionals offered to help families complete the federal financial aid forms for students, over 700 people attended the learning sessions.   In their “Be the First” program, employees worked with 11th and 12th graders on resume writing and interviewing and study skills.  They then practiced with students in mock interviews to better prepare them for college admissions and career opportunities.
  • Honorable Mention - Nashville Division – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in partnership with Stratford STEM Magnet High School From hydrologists to biologists to public relations to the Commander, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has provided 502 hours of volunteer efforts.  Over 400 students participated in Engineering Day and 101 students entered the Stratford STEM Expo with projects directly aligned with state standards in math, science and language arts.

Outstanding System-wide Partnership

  • Winner - Assistance League of Nashville Assistance League is an all-volunteer organization with 88 members and no paid staff.  Operation School Bell is their primary program designed to provide new school clothes and other necessities to economically disadvantaged children.  Assistance League held fundraisers for the wholesale purchase of standard school attire and contributed nearly $90,000 in clothing and other items to 3,283 students. Because of their work, 94% of principals reported a reduced need for emergency clothing and reduced time out of the classroom for dress code issues.  Assistance League members donated over 2,500 hours of volunteer service this school year.
  • Honorable Mention - United4Hope United4Hope has a singular vision – to help students achieve academic excellence by developing partnerships between faith-based organizations and our schools.  More than 175 volunteers contributed 2,256 volunteer hours in 9 schools.  United4Hope leadership meets with principals to identify and meet school needs.  Student support this year included tutoring, reading buddies, book fairs, standard school attire and a career night.

Volunteer of the Year

  • Vanderbilt University PENCIL Projects This year, the Volunteer of the Year Award goes to more than a group of more than 60 Vanderbilt students who have participated in PENCIL Projects, an organization under the umbrella of Vanderbilt’s Office of Active Citizenship and Service.  And talk about well-organized! The PENCIL Projects group has continued for more than a decade, with a governing board, an organizational constitution, and an internal structure for working with PENCIL’s Reading Partners and Math Partners programs to recruit and train student volunteers and organize volunteer carpools. Every year, a senior student serves as Coordinator, so let me use the words of Caroline Flannery Wattenmaker, this year’s graduating Coordinator, to describe the significance of the program.“PENCIL Projects pairs Vanderbilt tutors with elementary or middle school students in Nashville public schools. As college students who have continued our education for 20+ years, we inspire and motivate the children to learn to love learning in a way that goes beyond the end-of-year standardized exams. We focus on tutoring in math and reading – the two subjects we think are most fundamental and critical to a young student’s success. To me, seeing the students’ excitement for learning is the most moving aspect of our volunteer work. Every week upon arrival, the excitement of the child is tangible. I am so grateful for the PENCIL Foundation’s work with Vanderbilt, for I truly believe that I have learned just as much from the third-grader at Cumberland Elementary I tutored this year as he has from me.”

Academies of Nashville 2014 Students of the Year

  • Simale Abadula - Overton
  • Hunter Bowman - Whites Creek
  • Ray Carey - Hillsboro
  • Rashid Gordon - Antioch High School
  • Jakala Kimmons - Cane Ridge High School
  • Kaylyn Leslie - Pearl Cohn
  • Mohamad Mohamad - Stratford
  • Austin Owen - Maplewood
  • Kendra Rankins - Hunters Lane
  • Mena Sargios - Glencliff
  • Katherine Zecevic - Hillwood
  • Klara Zeneloku - McGavock

E. Bronson Ingram Award Each year, the PENCIL Board of Directors recognizes a community member who has been a leader in bringing support to our schools. This is a community member who has contributed in a way that is long lasting and meaningful, just as Bronson Ingram, former board chairman and business leader, was instrumental in starting PENCIL.

  • Denine Torr - Director of Community Initiatives at Dollar General Denine has been instrumental in the creation of Dollar General’s Employee Assistance Foundation and growth of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. She has designed and executed funding initiatives for Dollar General that have raised more than $100 million.  To date, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $92 million to literacy initiatives since 1993, helping more than 5 and 1/2 million children and adults learn to read, receive their GED, or learn the English language.

    Dr. Karen Hamilton, former Principal at Hattie Cotton Elementary School, writes “there is no one who could be any more deserving of this award than Mrs. Denine Torr. Ten years ago, I received a request to meet with Mrs. Torr to discuss the PENCIL partnership between Hattie Cotton and Dollar General Corporation.

    “I was told that the partnership was established many years prior to my arrival and that it was her desire for it to continue many years going forward.  Mrs. Torr told me how they helped in the past and asked me to write a proposal for the upcoming year.  I asked her to give me some indication of what else could possibly be added to thousands of dollars for books and literacy initiatives.  What else could be added to a plethora of student reading and behavior incentives?  What else could be added to hundreds of hours of volunteers reading in classrooms as well as volunteers for other school activities and events? Mrs. Torr responded, 'Whatever else will help Hattie Cotton Elementary School students, staff, community, and you be successful.’”

    Denine is a member and former chairman of the PENCIL Foundation Board of Directors and also serves on the boards for the Nashville Public Library Foundation and YWCA of Middle Tennessee. She serves as the co-chair of the policy council for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.