VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: October 2018 Caitlin Theriault IACA President Have you had a chance to meet our new IACA President, Caitlin Theriault? Caitlin joined the school community when her son, Brayden, entered 5th grade last year. Now in 6th grade, baseball-loving Brayden has adjusted well and is looking forward to welcoming his younger sister, Addison, to IACS next year. The two middle schoolers are older siblings to 19-month-old Cadence and 7-month-old Lincoln. Caitlin is a busy mom,but she loves carving out time to volunteer and has served at her former school’s PTO as treasurer. She began her IACA adventure early on, starting as a field trip chaperone, a helper for the 5/6 Halloween dance and pumpkin run around this time last year, and volunteer at the end of year BBQ. “I love being a part of my children’s lives, and being involved in the school community keeps our family close and always in the know,” she explains. Last June, Caitlin stepped up as IACA’s president and has been learning a lot about the organization and its responsibilities ever since. She’s incredibly organized and detail-oriented, which has made for a smooth transition. Of course, a lot of helping hands and a full board of familiar faces makes volunteering fun and rewarding, and she loves the endless opportunities that IACA has to express her crafty side and love for baking. Hailing from Lowell, the Theriaults are an active family who love Disney and going hiking, skiing, four wheeling and camping. Her husband Chad, Brayden and Addison are also accomplished in Taekwondo. Caitlin encourages everyone to get involved, even in the smallest ways, to give back to the community that gives us so much.
September 2018 Jessica Francisco IACA Vice President
Newly minted IACA Vice President, Jessica Francisco, joined the IACS community last year when her son Mason entered fifth grade; her second son, Jakoby, is currently a fourth grader, and will enroll next year. Having been active in her hometown school’s PTO, when it came to getting involved in her son’s new school, the seasoned volunteer didn’t hesitate to take part in IACA. After attending the opening meeting in September, Jessica volunteered as chaperone and helper for the 5/6 Halloween dance, and has been active ever since. Since being elected as IACA’s Vice President at the end of the school year, she has jumped in with enthusiasm, so far attending both MS and HS Back to School nights to promote IACA, as well as helping out with the first Book Fair of the year. She looks forward to both upcoming middle school dances again, as well as the school’s pumpkin run. “I feel very fortunate to be apart of such a great community,” she says. “No one is left out and everyone has a place. It takes a great group of kids, parents and staff to create such a caring environment.” Jessica loves spending her free time with her family and friends, which usually involves sitting on a field or court somewhere watching her boys play soccer, baseball, basketball or flag football, depending on the season. She and her husband Manny and the boys live in Lowell. “Regarding my philosophy on volunteering I think Helen Keller said it best,” she offers. ‘Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.’
Kelly Ash spent the spring of 2018 shadowing the chair position and reviewing applications for the IACA Scholarship with the intention of taking on full responsibilities for the committee this coming year. Her oldest child at the school, Kyle, is just in 6th grade, giving her a few years to serve in this capacity before meeting the limitations of having a Junior or Senior student. The role marks an increase in responsibility for her. Being new to the school in 2017, Kelly wanted to start out small; her first gig helping out IACA was chaperoning the 5/6 grade Halloween dance, which she really enjoyed as a fun family activity. She also loves helping to plan events and seeing how things are done behind the scenes. Volunteering gives her a chance to do that. “The personal satisfaction is so rewarding,” she says. “Making friends or just meeting other families that are involved in the IACS community is my favorite part.”
Having an older daughter who is a recent graduate of Norwich University and an older son is currently in college at Plymouth State, Kelly’s also familiar with the college process; taking on scholarship committee chair seemed a good fit for her skills, interest, and availability. “I feel that volunteering is important because it shows your child that you care about their school and their education. It’s also important to be part of the community,” she says. Managing the process by which deserving students are rewarded with IACA scholarships is definitely an important job and a fun, targeted way to get involved.
Her son Kyle started at Innovation as a fifth grader and enjoys playing basketball. Kelly and her fiance, Matt, live in Lowell. In her free time, she enjoys reading and especially loved being at the beach this past summer. “I wish I could hibernate until spring!” she laughs. Despite her teasing, she’s looking forward to this year’s next batch of dance socials for her son. And of course, she is eager to recruit new parent and teacher volunteers to sit on her scholarship committee this April. If you think you'd like to get involved, send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 2018 Heather Landis Casino Night Chairperson
Her email, email@example.com, is a tell-tale sign that Heather Landis is a whirlwind of charm. Her ability to enlist help and get stuff done is truly remarkable, and a definite asset to our school. You might recognize her as our school librarian and fundraising coordinator, but Heather is also an IACA volunteer and mom to three boys who’ve gone through the school from the beginning. Josh, 20, and Noah, 18, preceded their younger brother Nate, 17, who is currently a senior. She shudders to think that all three of her sons will be in college next year. “Yikes!,” she chuckles. While they are all very different, she adds,“IACS has been a wonderful place for them to find themselves. They are three very different learners, with different interests and abilities, IACS has been a great fit for all of them and I feel lucky for that.”
Heather started out volunteering by bringing in food for a homebase breakfast. As her boys grew and got involved in Track and other sports, drama, music, robotics, and international trips, she met more people and started to branch out. Over the years, she feels thankful for the many close friendships that were forged chaperoning a dance, driving students to a field trip or organizing a fundraiser like the fall Pumpkin Run. Her most recent project is actually a gig that she has been running for many years now, though she is currently looking for her successor. Innovation’s Big Time Fundraiser, Casino Night, is a significant undertaking that involves coordination of silent auction donors, a host venue, ticket sales, bakers, and other logistics. The payoff, however, is definitely rewarding. As one of the school’s most successful FUNdraisers, Casino Night represents the efforts of countless volunteers, resulting in a memorable evening of adult-only fun in celebration of our school with a great meal, tons of attractive auction items, an insane bidfest for delicious dessert trays and centerpieces, and mock gambling. Many of our IACA functions are centered around students; Casino Night is the one event that caters to parents and staff. This year’s event is right around the corner, on Friday, April 6th. Tickets are nearly sold out, but if you’d like to get out for the night with your fellow IACS community contact her at the email above and she’ll try to fit you in.
“I'm proud of our community, our collective students are, on the whole, polite, respectful, kind humans and I'm grateful to every staff member and volunteer for creating the experiences at IACS that have helped them become the great people that they are becoming.” she says.
Heather and her family live in Billerica. Even her husband, Eric, is an involved parent who enjoys playing in a “garage band” called DadBand with a fellow IACS dad. In her free time, Heather loves yoga and playing board games/cards, “but I've been told that I can be sort of competitive,” she admits. Competitive or not, Heather is driven to create a successful future for IACS, and we are all grateful!
January 2018 Angela Caputo Griswold Kim Bilawchuk Embrace Winter Coordinators
What does it take to plan a successful school-wide family fun event? Just ask Embrace Winter Social co-coordinators, Angela Caputo Griswold and Kim Bilawchuk. When they took on the responsibility, the two IACA members put their heads together to brainstorm the kinds of feasible, family-oriented activities that would be a great way to celebrate being indoors and connect with community. Some things, like a tasty taco bar, they decided, were a bit out of reach logistically and financially. Who doesn’t love tacos, right? But such is the life of an event planner, when keeping it simple with Bingo and snacks become more realistic. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of organizing an evening of entertainment that all would enjoy, they admit, was pulling together and crafting an amazing assortment of themed baskets to award lucky raffle winners! Made possible through donations of students and parents and a team of volunteer creators (special thanks to Fran Bilotta, Jen Gierke, Jenna Heroux, Ann Marie Palmer, and Andrea Rhodes!), these baskets reflect creativity and resourcefulness. At end of they day, Angela and Kim are ready for a great night that builds community and raises money for IACA. Says Angela, “We hope the raffles are exciting and stimulate lots of interest, and that people go home with great baskets! If folks walk away having met one new person or having spent some quality time with current friends, we'll that's even better!”
In fact, for Kim and Angela, this sense of community is at the heart of volunteering. Says Angela, “It sounds cliché, but you really get what you give when you volunteer. I try to build community and by doing so, my family and I become a part of it. That's the reward I get from volunteering.” Kim agrees. “I've always volunteered at my kids' schools, serving on the PTO at Pawtucketville Memorial in Lowell and chaperoning field trips. I find it's a great way to meet other families and learn more about what's going on at school.”
It was their kids who brought these two amazing ladies together. Like Angela’s son, Owen, Kim’s daughter Cassidy is in 6th grade. The two met through the new family welcome picnic before school started in fall of 2016. Having valued the experience of that early introduction, they decided to work together last summer to plan the same event for incoming families. Angela and Kim also volunteer on Melissa Kapeckas’ MS Parent/Principal Advisory Council, offering valuable parent input on current and future school initiatives.
In addition to her chairperson and council member responsibilities, Angela serves IACA as the board’s secretary. “Building community is even more important at IACS than at a traditional public school because, as a regional school, we are spread out among several towns. My drive in volunteering is to build community. I love to see people making meaningful connections, and if I can help that process in some way, it's a win-win!” she says.
Angela’s son Owen plays basketball and is currently in the ensemble cast for this spring’s production of Gilligan’s Island. His younger sister, Ellen, will come to IACS next year in 5th grade from Chelmsford public. Cassidy likewise has a younger sibling in grade 3 at the Lowell public schools. He’s pretty excited about coming to IACS and being able to join Robotics Club like his sister!
Like most parents who volunteer, Angela and Kim admit that it is their children who drive their interest in volunteering. Both have been have been helping in one capacity or another since their earliest days of school. Angela was the PTO president at her kids’ elementary school for a few years and found it very rewarding. It made getting involved with IACA easy from the start. She and Kim thank all the volunteers and contributors who are helping to make Embrace Winter possible, and hope that everyone comes out for a great night of family fun and fundraising!
November 2017 Fabiane Kelley Grade 6 Mom
When it came time to think about middle school options for her oldest son, Andrew, Fabiane Kelley and her husband were attracted to Innovation’s mission and teachers who invest their time in understanding how their child learns. Now in their second year at IACS, “Faby” is happy to watch her sixth grader be so inspired and encouraged by a community of creative, hands-on students and faculty. From stop motion animated movies to LEGOS and Dungeons and Dragons club, Andrew has learned how much he loves to create. In fact, Miss Shaby’s “Young Architect” rubric has motivated the 11-year-old to think about studying the field in college.
Like all of us, Faby’s lIfe is fairly busy managing a household and three active children, but she hasn’t let that stop her. “Nobody HAS the time to volunteer, we MAKE the time!” she says. And making time is something she has done consistently, since Andrew arrived at IACS. She started in the classroom, volunteering to help out for the contraption rubric and canoe trip. Faby has rolled up her sleeves for bigger tasks too, like helping Miss Shaby prepare for the Art Show and the school’s year-end barbecue and summer ice cream social. As time goes on, she contributes in ways that make sense for her, and has recently taken on coordinating middle school student dances for IACA! Getting involved, she says, has its many rewards. “Along the way, we laugh, we share, make friends, and learn that many other families are just like us, while strengthening our child’s sense of belonging in the school.” In the free time she is careful to carve out, Faby enjoys traveling and looks forward to her annual getaways that she and her husband Andrew plan for their anniversaries. Faby, Andrew, and their children Andrew (11), Theodore (8) and Mazzy (4) live in Lowell.
Got suggestions for future volunteer spotlights? Nominate someone to be featured in a future edition of Meet IACA and we’ll be happy to introduce them!
October 2017 Bernadette Baird Fundraising Coordinator
It’s no secret that IACA is a major source of funding for our school community. What people may not know, however, is that it takes a lot of creativity and perseverance to coordinate events that generate money for our school. Bernadette Baird is no stranger to the demands of this challenging position. From BoxTops to Amazon Smile, from Yankee Candle to vendor recruiting, and our newest Dining for a Cause nights, she’s been the driving force behind a lot of our important revenue generation activities. But, Bernadette’s talents aren’t limited to raising money. In fact, ever since her daughter Katy came to IACS in 5th grade, Bernadette has been an enthusiastic volunteer, beginning with her first adventure as a chaperone on the Plimoth Plantation field trip. For her, getting involved was an easy decision. “At its most basic level, volunteering is an act of gratitude and love for a person or organization,” she says. Watching her daughter thrive, not only in class but track, the Scribbler, and most recently the performing arts group, inspired her to want to give back. “This school’s incredible community of faculty and staff work very hard to provide our kids with a unique education -- one that they will benefit from for the rest of their lives,” she says. Even small blocks of time, like making photo copies for teachers, or helping out at the year-end barbecue, give her the chance to support Katy, now a Freshman, in her school experience. When asked her favorite part of being a member of the IACS community, Bernadette doesn’t hesitate. “Watching the kids have fun, grow together, and knowing that our family is part of something very special,” she says. “ Volunteering is my way of saying thank you.” Bernadette, her husband Mike, and Katy live in Lowell.
September 2017 Jo Anne Frazier IACA President
Meet your IACA president, Jo Anne Frazier. Easily recognized by her sunny smile and cheerful disposition, you can find her supporting activities across the school, from her daughters’ sporting events to performing arts shows, from bake sales to Casino Night. Her three girls, Cameron, Morgan and Keira, have been here since 5th grade, and are now a senior, sophomore and 6th grader. Through their active participation in soccer, dance team, and DI, Jo and her husband, Matt have made many enriching connections with other IACS families over the past 8 years. In that time, she has learned how important it is to get involved in the school community. “Of all of the educational opportunities out there, private, Catholic, public, tech schools, we have all chosen Innovation Academy. And that makes us a unique community. We aren't all from the same town, but we all want the best for our children, and we all agree that Innovation provides what we look for in an educational institution. I have found volunteering with IACA to be incredibly rewarding.” she says.
Jo began as IACA scholarship committee chair 4 years ago, before stepping up as president of the board. Now in her third term, Jo is training her Vice President to succeed in this role next year. Jo balances her busy life of motherhood, shuttle service, a career, and volunteerism with knitting, sewing, and cooking. She is an avid soccer fan and dance mom who enjoys watching her daughters compete, and is looking forward to Cameron being able to drive! Her advice for members of our community, new and old? “We gain new perspectives from every person we meet, every person we connect with. You are already a part of the IACS community. Get inspired. Have fun. Pay it forward, and pay it back.”
VOLUNTEER SIGN-UP SHEET
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