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Falkville RIF worker receives national award

By By Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Jalonda Smith, a mother of two who works as a Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) volunteer at Falkville Elementary School, has been chosen as one of three recipients of the non-profit organization’s National Volunteer of the Year Award in 2008-09.
She will be a guest of honor at RIF’s Art of Reading Gala in Washington, D.C. on June 2 In addition, she will receive a certificate of achievement and bring home a $500 cash award for the FES Library. Accompanying her on the all-expenses-paid trip will be Gail Ayres, school librarian and a recipient of the award in 2006.
Two representatives of RIF, Cody Ruxton, manager of volunteer engagement, and Marcus Lee, a photographer assigned to the Communications Department, visited the school campus May 5 to conduct an interview with Smith and shoot photographs for a promotional video. To spotlight the occasion, students were invited to participate in an “Aloha” theme party in the outdoor classroom. Each student celebrated by receiving a free book of his or choice from the library, compliments of the Volunteer Center of Morgan County, and eating a serving of fruit and nuts, compliment of local businesses.
The party was planned and conducted by Smith and other parent volunteers.
Over the past school year, Smith spent the night with about 30 students during a Read-A-Thon, led students in making Angel Book Christmas Ornaments to decorate a Christmas tree for the library, and dressed up as a bag lady to emphasize the need for students to take good care of library books.
Smith, a stay-at-home mom, has been active as a RIF volunteer for the past six years. She and her husband Matt operated a poultry farm at Lacon, and he is also employed at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Cullman. They have a daughter, Heather Rose, 14, and a son, Galen, 11. Both attend Falkville schools.