Hickory Elementary School volunteer earns countywide recognition

Principal: Tina Carrazco is 'a great, supportive mother'

April 05, 2010|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- It's a fine balancing act -- co-parenting four children, working full time, and volunteering in her church and children's school.

But it's one Tina Carrazco enjoys and seems to manage with ease.

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed, and a nomination by the staff at Hickory Elementary School has led to her being named the countywide winner of the Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Award.

The award is a collaboration between Comcast and the Maryland State Department of Education. Five finalists and a statewide winner, selected from 24 semifinalists, will be announced May 6 at a celebration in Towson, Md., which Carrazco will attend.

"When Mrs. Vantz (Hickory's family/school liaison) told me she wanted to put in the nomination, I was a little surprised. I didn't feel qualified. I never thought it would go any further than the nomination," Carrazco said.


Hickory Principal Amy Norris said Carrazco "just exemplifies everything about this award. She's a great, supportive mother. I admire her."

Carrazco, 39, said no matter what the outcome May 6, she is honored knowing how the staff at Hickory Elementary feels about her.

"I do what I can and help where I can. I don't feel like I do a whole lot," Carrazco said.

That being said, Carrazco wears many hats at the school. She is PTA president and, with the support of her employer, Citigroup, she takes one workday off a month to volunteer at Hickory. She also saves vacation time for her school volunteering, which includes going on field trips.

She spends time helping in the classrooms of her three youngest children, who are in kindergarten, first grade and second grade. Her oldest son is an eighth-grader at Northern Middle School.

Carrazco also helps where needed at Hickory, where her volunteer efforts began during the 2006-07 school year.

"I'm not just supporting my kids' teachers. My mission is to support the whole school -- everyone, everything," she said.

Carrazco's involvement in her children's lives is non-negotiable.

"I feel it's my responsibility. God gave these children to me, and I need to be involved in their lives," she said.

Carrazco realizes it's hard for parents to volunteer because of work and other commitments. Her suggestion for those who can't help at school is to take an active part in their children's education by checking their homework.

As the parent of a special needs child, she is also aware of the importance of parents/guardians being advocates for their children. Carrazco said her volunteer efforts have helped her build a rapport with her children's teachers, which makes it easier to talk to them when she has a concern.

She lists her priorities as "my God, my family (including school volunteering) and my work," in that order.

Carrazco and her family are involved with the Hispanic congregation at Gateway Ministries in Williamsport. She is a 2009 graduate of Victory Bible Institute, a three-year program.

A Washington County native, Carrazco attended Salem Avenue Elementary, Western Heights Middle School and Grace Academy, before graduating from North Hagerstown High School in 1988 and attending Hagerstown Business College, which is now Kaplan University.

She and her husband, Ignacio, have been married eight years. Carrazco said her husband supports her volunteer work by making sure she gets a couple of hours to herself on Sunday afternoons.

While she might have a lot on her plate, Carrazco said she is happy to be involved.

"Sometimes it seems crazy, but it all works out in the end," she said.

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