Gove Elementary nominates Outstanding Volunteer

BELLE GLADE — Gove Elementary is honored to nominate Florencio Zavala as Gove’s most outstanding volunteer. He has been a volunteer for the school and the Glades community for over 18 years. Florencio’s ability and willingness to mentor and motivate students and staff has made him a teacher’s “dream maker.”

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Florencio Zavala has been volunteering for Gove Elementary and the Glades community for over 18 years.

Prior to his retirement five years ago, “Flo” was a valuable volunteer for the Very Special Arts (VSA) West Festival. The VSA Festival is an annual event for elementary students with disabilities. He worked enthusiastically for 16 years to oversee registration of 300 students.

At Gove, Flo used his organizational skills to create an innovative system to manage reading intervention materials. This new system streamlined the accessibility of materials to ensure teachers had the intervention books and tests that they needed. In addition, he made copies on a weekly basis to ensure testing materials were restocked.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Students enjoy the gardens that Flo has created using his expert gardening and carpentry skills.

Flo has used his expert gardening and carpentry skills to create wildflower/rock, vegetable, and sunflower gardens. As a co-sponsor of the Garden Club, Flo developed hands-on lessons that enabled students to develop teamwork skills, which will benefit them when they transition to the workforce. Flo mentors the Garden Club members by giving his “heart” and fatherly advice while working alongside them on exciting projects. An example of a recent project is our aroma garden, which contains fragrant plants from over eight countries. Another club project is an herb garden, which is used to provide gifts to visitors and is part of a Glades school based “green market.”

Flo also worked closely with teachers and other volunteers to transform an unappealing area into a beautiful butterfly garden. He accomplished this feat by building two screened butterfly houses and an “information station” that brought learning outside. The “information station” comes equipped with an outdoor thermometer/humidity gauge, areas for holding field guides, learning lab activities and tools. Students have made several discoveries about the life cycle of butterflies while visiting this outdoor classroom.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Flo worked with teachers and other volunteers to transform an unappealing area into a beautiful butterfly garden with two screened-in butterfly houses.

Flo recently worked collaboratively with all kindergarten classes to install bird feeders that students made with recycled materials. He is currently building flower boxes for a second grade sunflower garden field study, as well as working on a first grade project to create an outdoor play area using plants.

Flo has been an integral part of accomplishing many “green” projects on Gove’s campus. These projects led to Gove’s Green Team winning several awards such as the 2017 Pine Jog’s School of Quality, 2018 School of Excellence, 2018 Everglades Champion School at a Gold Level and the Green Ribbon School Award for Florida.

Florencio Zavala is an invaluable part of our Gove family. Our students are ALWAYS excited to work and learn when Mr. Flo is on campus. He serves as a positive male role model for many of our students who do not have one in their lives. His support for our school and community is the reason why we are proud to nominate him as the most outstanding volunteer at Gove Elementary.

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