We celebrated our many wonderful parent and alumni parent volunteers, including this year’s Thomas Malcolm Volunteer Award winners, at our annual volunteer appreciation dinner May 6.

Launched in 2014, the Malcolm Award is named for Middle School science teacher and Dean of Student Life Tom Malcolm, who has modeled the ideals of community service and volunteerism for our school community for more than three decades.

This year’s award winners were: Thomas Dryjanski, Mark O’Neill, Sharon Eichinger, and Masheba Gailey Harris. Here is Mrs. Sheppard’s full speech:

There is someone here at the Academy who embodies the ideals of community service and volunteerism.
Mr. Thomas Malcolm. He teaches students to care for a cause, to be passionate, to be good to one another.
He is someone who contributes his goodness and works to MPA unselfishly, without seeking any rewards or accolade. His personal passion for the school’s mission is contagious and it motivates me every day. He doesn’t just do the work ~ he makes it work. He is an example to all our students. If you ask any student who embodies MPA the most, his name will come up immediately.
We can’t thank you enough Mr. Malcolm for all that you’ve done during your now 40-year career here at the Academy. It is an honor to announce tonight the Thomas Malcolm Volunteer Award recipients, class of 2016. Please join me, Mr. Malcolm to give the award.
We are giving this award tonight to four members of our community.

The first recipient of the Tom Malcolm award is Tom Dryjanski.

Tom has served MPA with distinction for more than 15 years in various capacities, but mostly as the President of the Fathers Club. He is the proud dad of four MPA graduates. Over the years. Thomson, Gilly, Emma and Elliot could be seen, tagging along with their dad as he oversaw one of the million activities he was organizing. During Tom’s long tenure with the Fathers Club, he and his group coordinated so many school functions: the back to school picnic, the pancake breakfast and homecoming, the annual civics essay class, the sports banquet, weekend family outings such as White Sox games, skating parties, fall and spring campouts and the list goes on. And let’s face it, getting dads to dedicate their free time to school events is no small task. He did it with passion and dedication to the benefit of all our students.

Many alumni parents commented on Tom receiving this award.
David Perry mentioned that Tom is a gracious man, one who leads but always tries to achieve a consensus before moving ahead with projects. He’s always pleasant too; he made me and the other dads feel like we were part of a team. Other than Mr. Malcolm himself, I think Tom put in more volunteer hours than anyone else.
Marcia and Steve Thomas noted how he worked closely with the Mothers’ Club to put kids first and coordinate and help when needed. He was always approachable. One of Marcia and Steve’s favorite memories was watching him hand out donuts in the morning. He would be telling the kids “don’t touch the donuts, point at the one you want!”
As Head of School, I think that it is important that we acknowledge Tom’s dedication to MPA tonight. During his nearly two decade relationship with the Academy, there have been some ups and downs. Tom’s loyalty to MPA never wavered. As a passionate friend of the Academy, Tom has never shied away from expressing his opinion. We are as an institution better off as a result.
It is my honor to recognize all that you have done for our students and community. So that the time you spent helping this community stays as the one lasting memory from MPA. If they could all be here tonight, you would hear the hundreds if not thousands of students saying thank you. So on their behalf. Thank you Tom for all that you have done over these two decades with us. Tom Dryjanski.

The second recipient of the Tom Malcolm award is Mark O’Neill.

Mark is a little bit of an unusual choice for the Tom Malcolm award. Unlike the other recipients tonight, Mark has not been involved with the Parents Association. The reason he is receiving the award tonight is because of his incredible dedication to our student athletes as a coach. Mark is not just about winning championship, but about making sure each student is growing as an athlete and an individual. He is about making sure MPA has the best athletics program.

He is the type of coach who will stay after practice and support athletes who need more help. Even if he is not coaching that particular sports, he will for instance work with pitchers and catchers on the baseball team while coaching the softball team.
As Coach Pariso commented, Mark’s ambition is to improve our overall sports program. He is very interested in having summer camp for baseball and softball for our MPA athletes to work on their skill levels and their commitment to sports.

Coach Drahozal also noted that Mark is a pleasure to work with and students enjoys learning from him.

So Mark, thank you for your leadership in advancing our sports program and for your passion. Your love for athletics is contagious. You have been an outstanding role model for our students. Mark O’Neill

The next recipient of the Tom Malcolm Award is Sharon Eichinger. 

Sharon has been a tireless contributor to the MPA community, donating time and treasure for more than 16 years while being the mom of two wonderful MPA lifers: Sarah and Jeffrey, who are now both attending Washington University in St Louis.

She started volunteering at the Academy as part of the Mothers Club and supporting her husband Bob, who at the time was leading the Development Office. She knows a thing or two about auctions, Galas and Salute to Excellence!

Her extraordinary skills at baking made her contributions to pie day, bake sales, school receptions and any occasion calling for culinary talent the envy of all. Sharon, just a reminder, Pi Day is March 14th and I’d like a chocolate cream pie.

No one, and I mean no one can make a deep dark chocolate dessert like this volunteer.

In recent years, even after her children left for college, her service to MPA has continued. She is always in the Archive helping Marcia and other volunteers transform the Museum and Archives. They amount of work Sharon and all the volunteers have done is amazing. The Museum is outstanding and keeps looking better every week. There is no one who can so diligently search and ferret out the extraordinary facts about this 143 year old school. Thanks to her extraordinary organizational skills, she can dig out a 1960s board report in seconds!

Sharon has done it all and seen it all at MPA.

Thank you for your time and dedication. You are a part of the MPA history. Thank you for your unwavering dedication spending hours cooking, grilling, sowing, and sorting through mountains of documents. Sharon might come across as a quiet person, but her work and dedication speak volume.

On behalf of the Academy I want to express my gratitude and admiration. Sharon Eichinger
The final recipient of the Thomas Malcolm award is Masheba Gailey-Harris.

It was 9 years ago that Samaria started Kindergarten followed by Sheridan. They are now in 8th and 5th grade respectively. Time flies!

The Mothers Club at the time did not waste any time in recruiting her to join the Executive Committee where she started as a Public Relation chair. These past years, Masheba has embodied volunteerism at the Academy. She has had MPA tattooed on her heart. Her love for MPA is felt in so many ways. She has held so many posts, chair or help at pretty much all the Parents Association events. She is now the current Parents Association President and will be co-president next year.

Three years ago, she was the first mom to chair the Gala since Salute to Excellence. She trail blazed and transformed the Gala into the fun community event that it is today. She brought fun back into fundraising!

Everyone appreciates her kind leadership. As Shaleein Lopez noted, she always embraces new and returning parent volunteers making them feel welcomed and appreciated.

Sonja Brisard also noted how it is such a pleasure to work with her. She genuinely cares about the school and is very passionate about MPA’s faculty and staff. She will not let anyone else handle the annual faculty and staff appreciation event! She is a consensus builder. She’s very easy going and will roll up her sleeves to get any task done.
Vincent just wanted me to tell you how deserving you are of this award. He is your biggest cheerleader.

If someone who knows Masheba were asked to give one word that epitomizes her, it would likely be kindness or work. Her genuine kindness is unmistakable. So is her reputation as a hard worker.

Masheba, thank you for being the quintessential volunteer and an outstanding person. You lead by example and inspire us. I know how much you love MPA, and I am here to tell you tonight how much MPA loves you. Thank you, Masheba.
Volunteer Recognition

Masheba Gailey Harris, President of the Parents Association, also recognized all the volunteers who made this year so successful. Here is her speech:

Thank you Mrs. Sheppard and thank you all for being here tonight. 
I would like to take the time to acknowledge all the event chairs, who helped make the Parents Association events possible.

I’d like to thank Chuck Lay and all the cooks and volunteers who helped make the Picnic and Homecoming a huge success. To see the entire student body participating, whether they were decorating and riding their bikes around Jones Bowl, or cheering on our warriors, this Homecoming was truly special.

I want to thank Neelu Kingra for chairing another beautiful Gala. Moonlight in Morroco what her tremendous success thanks to her dedication and hard work.

I also want to thank all who helped with the gala and the quilters who made the beautiful quilts that were auctioned off: Katie Nathwani, Marcia Thomas, Michelle Macey, Sharon Eichinger, Ana Kelly, Pat Egan and Meg Simmerling, Manjari Malkani, Emily Fitch, Mimi Johnson and Cynthia Bailey. Thank you.

Organizing the book fair is no small feat, and it went off without a hitch thanks to Antoinette Powell and Natasha Nicholes and many, many dedicated volunteers. They jumped in at the last minute and made it happen! Thank you both for chairing this event. 

I want to thank Betty Callahan for organizing the Holiday Ornament decorating party and Michelle Macey, Sarah Cypher and Emily Drown for sowing all the stockings. We had a huge turnout at the decorating party and I know families appreciate receiving these unique pieces with their child’s photo on it. Thank you.

The International Day luncheon was no different; Led by Nicole Goss-Smith, Em Leonard, Mary Rosen and a host of volunteers, everyone made sure we piled our plates high with delicious cuisines from around the world. Thank you all for keeping this wonderful tradition alive. 

I want to thank the staff at Southwest arena for helping me host another successful Skating Party. We all had a wonderful time.

I want to thank Kelli Low for organizing the SkyZone mother-son event. It was a wonderful event that got everyone moving!

Behind the piles of pies were a dedicated group of volunteers who sorted, cut and served these thousands of servings to make Pi Day a mathematical success. Special thanks to Kelli Low and Chaltrese Bazile and all the volunteers.

Academy’s Got Talent performances went so smoothly thanks to Brian Hensel who was manning the sound booth. I also want to thank all the parents who were helping backstage keeping all the performers quiet and ready to perform! Thank you for all your help. 

I also want to thank Aaron Beals, Nicole Goss-Smith, Shelly Perez, Diana Kamin, Chaltrese Bazile and Iris Fullilove for helping me organize the Faculty and Staff appreciation luncheon. It was a wonderful event that I always enjoy organizing for our dedicated faculty.

We are looking forward to another successful Father Daughter Dance. I want to thank Sharon Bryant, who I think is decorating the room as I speak!

I know our seniors look forward to the Senior Picnic. Special thanks to all the senior moms for organizing this event.

I need not to forget to thank Marcia Thomas, Sharon Eichinger, and Linda Cuadros and all the other volunteers, whose archival expertise was greatly appreciated as our students and alumni researched our storied history. Thank you for all the work that you do. It doesn’t go unnoticed.

I want to thank Alicia Howell for taking on the School Kits and coordinating with teachers, so that I don’t have to scramble to buy school supplies at the very last minute.

And another thank you to Chaltrese Bazile for collecting the Box Tops. 
Speaking of fundraising, we couldn’t have done so much if we weren’t eating so many cookies! Thanks to all who bought, sold and helped with the Cookie Dough Fundraiser. 

Nicole Goss Smith and Sonja Brisard were also responsible for selling a lot of MPA merchandise this year. Thank you for helping us cheer on our Warriors wearing the Maroon and White!

In addition to after-school events, volunteers also make a tremendous impact in the classroom as Room Parents organizing the Halloween Party, Holiday Celebrations and the Valentine’s Day party I would like to acknowledge all the room parents: 

Pre-K (3) – Ms. Goggin 
Qiana Bradley and Moses Evans

Pre-K (4) – Ms. Donohue
Kirstie Dates and Charlene Metcalf
Kindergarten – Ms. Davis
Zandra El Chisolm
LaTanyia Gordon
Carshena Ross
Dana Reed-Benford
Moses Evans
Kindergarten – Ms. Misulonas
Kay Tworek-Sanchez and Kenya Grooms
1st- Ms. Ferguson
Kay Sanchez
1st – Ms. Gray
Robin Whatley-Beachum
Yahesa Worsham
2nd – Ms. Arnold
Kristen Carbone
Kristen Cooper
Aparna Palakodeti
Antoinette Powell
2nd – Ms. Raser
Michelle Macey 
Elizabeth Akers 
Romina Brown
Dunni Cosey-Gay
Malaika Tyson
3rd – Ms. Schmidt
Tara Fifer
Myesha McClendon
Julie Perry4th – Ms. Barnicle
Camille Isabell
Michelle Rushing 
Felicia D. Towns-Bell
4th – Ms. Smoler
Felicia Frazier 
Evelyn Lara
5th – Ms. Fitch Cynthia Fry
Karen Norington- Reaves
5th – Ms. McAlister
Tracey Brooks
Joy Cabrera
Karla Rochelle
Aprna Palakodeti

Middle School coordinator, Vicki Beals

I would like to ask the members of this year’s Executive Committee to stand up. 
Masheba Gailey Harris, Kelli Low, Sonja Brisard, Chuck Lay, Ryan Bergin, and Deondre Bedgood. And for next year, we have three more members joining the board, please stand up as well: Brian Hensel, Vickie Beals and Antoinette Powell.

This was a long list of volunteers. I hope I did not forget anyone. We couldn’t do so much for our community if it weren’t for all of you who helped.

Thank you all for being a part of the MPA family and for having such a positive impact on our students!

Want to get involved? Contact the Parents Association (email).