Happy Good Neighbor Day

HAPPY GOOD NEIGHBOR DAY BY SHELBY AKIN

T E X A R K A N A M O N T H LY

T E X A R K A N A M O N T H LY

SEPTEMBER 29

W hat started out as providing basic photo booth decorations for Kindergarten Adventure at Pleasant Grove Elementary School almost seven years ago, has evolved into Jessica Rich becoming one of Pleasant Grove ISD’s most indispensable volunteers. Her passion and commitment to strengthening education has been an asset to Pleasant Grove, its students, and the community at large. Jessica’s hard work and dedication to Pleasant Grove did not go unnoticed. Last summer, as the Director of Marketing and Communications at Pleasant Grove ISD, I nominated Jessica for the prestigious State Board of Education, Heroes for Children Award. Jessica works with our administration to create an inclusive experience for all the elementary and intermediate students. Her bold style and creative talents have no limit in making Pleasant Grove the most colorful and welcoming place for students in Texarkana. Only fifteen volunteers throughout the entire state of Texas are given the Heroes for Children Award for outstanding service and support to their local school communities, staff, and students. Each recipient represents one of fifteen districts in Texas. Pleasant Grove is proud to announce that this year, Jessica Rich was awarded the 2020 Heroes for Children Award for District 9, which includes Bowie County and 29 other Northeast Texas counties. The State Board of Education established the Heroes for Children award program in 1994. The award is designed to recognize excellence in advocacy for education and to highlight the many outstanding volunteers whose efforts represent significant contributions to public school education in Texas. Jessica’s name will be engraved on a plaque along with other recipients to be permanently displayed at the Texas Education Agency. “When my son was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic in the second grade, I could never have imagined what an indispensable blessing Pleasant Grove schools would be to our family,” Jessica said. “I felt love and support from our school district, and an invaluable peace during such a stressful situation.” Jessica wanted to give back to her school in return. She felt the best way she could do that was to devote her time and energy to the district and be as helpful to them as they were to her family. Whether it is painting hallways or organizing book fairs, Jessica is a part of the team that makes it happen to create a positive impact for Pleasant Grove ISD. Jessica serves as an active board member of PG Connection, Pleasant Grove’s Parent-Teacher organization, which directly supports Pleasant Grove classrooms. As a PG Connection board member, Jessica attends monthly meetings and votes on the distribution of student scholarships and teacher grants. Beyond her commitment to PG Connection, Jessica finds time to serve as the Grade Level Coordinator for Pleasant Grove Intermediate School, where she organizes and manages funds for holiday parties and field trips and coordinates volunteers. She is the Head Coordinator for Pleasant Grove Elementary School as

National Coffee Day

well, coordinating events such as Kindergarten Adventure, holiday parties, Teacher Appreciation Week, Grandparent’s Breakfast, Meet the Teacher, and various field trips. She organizes volunteers, book fairs, teaching materials, monthly teacher treats, and the Homecoming Parade float decorations. Further, the Pleasant Grove Education Foundation is also proud to call Jessica a board member as she brings energy to the Staff Convocation, assists with Hawk Hustle and worked to plan the 2020 Culinary Uncorked event before it was unfortunately cancelled because of COVID-19. Jessica was also part of the PAC that successfully campaigned for the passing of a successful Bond Issue that provided funds to build the new Margaret Fischer Davis Elementary School set to open later this fall. “Working with the PG Connection is probably the contribution nearest and dearest to my heart,” she says. “No matter how much teachers earn, it will never be enough to pay them for the impact they have in the lives of our children. Beyond that, we know that many of them spend their own money to improve the books, materials and supplies used in their classrooms for instruction. For that reason, I’m especially glad to have the chance given by this organization to help put money directly back into their hands in order to relieve the burden placed on them by a limited budget.” In Pleasant Grove ISD’s press release on September 10, Pleasant Grove ISD Superintendent Chad Pirtle said, “Pleasant Grove ISD is fortunate to have individuals that are invested in our community. Jessica Rich puts her heart and soul into everything she does for our children. Our students and teachers benefit daily from her hard work. Mrs. Rich is deserving of this honor, and we look forward to celebrating her this year. I am proud the Texas State Board of Education recognizes individuals like Mrs. Rich for their outstanding service to students.” Love for the students, staff, and the Pleasant Grove community is Jessica’s greatest strength. Few parent volunteers are willing to substitute for both secretaries and teachers, but Jessica does it out of a genuine love of children. Jessica creates experiences and atmospheres of love at Pleasant Grove so that every student feels celebrated. Pleasant Grove’s Athletic Director, Josh Gibson, encourages the Pleasant Grove Hawk football team to be the “Best in State.” Jessica has also taken this challenge and applied it to her volunteerism. With teachers and administrators who are already stretched to their limits, parent volunteers are extremely important to public schools. The saying is true, it takes a village to raise a child. Jessica takes this responsibility to heart as an inclusive volunteer who encourages her community to get involved. “I achieve nothing without an army of other parent volunteers who love our school district as much as I do,” Jessica said. “I am so proud to be a part of a school system that encourages positive parent involvement because, as Helen Keller said, ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.’”

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o say 2020 has been full of the unexpected would be an understatement. From COVID-19 and wildfires, to murder hornets and riots, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been dealing with a little extra stress this year. Add to that the fact that it’s an election year with all the political hullabaloo that accompanies it, and you’ve got yourself a year that will definitely be mentioned in history books. This “Groundhog Day” scenario we’ve been living has been a little disorienting, and one day has rolled right into the next with little fanfare. We’ve been longing for the day when things get back to “normal.” For a while it felt like this storm may never end, but it’s starting to look like there may be a break in the clouds and a little sun may be shining through. Schools and sports have made a comeback, Churches are meeting together in person, and the limited capacity tables of local restaurants are filling up. As we slowly start stepping back into our pre-pandemic routines, it feels like perhaps the end of the world may not be imminent after all. While remaining vigilant and careful, wearing our masks, and remembering to wash our hands, maybe it’s time to shift our focus away from all the things that seem to be falling apart around us and set it instead on things worth celebrating. For us at Texarkana Monthly, September is a month dedicated to doing just that. There’s always something to celebrate if you look hard enough, but if you can’t seem to think of anything, we’ll be sharing some of our ideas. It’s time to look on the bright side. We invite you to celebrate with us!

VFW Day

SEPTEMBER 30

National Love People Day

National Chewing Gum Day

National Mud Pack Day

National Hot Mulled Cider Day

National Women’s Health & Fitness Day– Last Wednesday in September

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H A P P Y G O O D N E I G H B O R D AY

C E L E B R AT E T H E D AY

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