Luciano Mondolo was awarded California's AmeriCorps Volunteer of the Year award at the 2012 Governer's Volunteer and Service Awards. Here is the letter of recommendation from Principal Robert Rayburn of Chavez Elementary School.
To Whom it May Concern,
It is my great honor to write this letter to highly recommend Mr. Luciano Mondolo for AmeriCorps Volunteer of the Year. I have been the principal at Chavez Elementary for 5 years and an educator in public schools for nearly 30 years. In my entire career, I have never seen a person so deserving of an honor as our “Coach Mondolo”.
Mr. Mondolo or as we know him “Coach” came to Chavez Elementary School through Playworks.org in September 2011. Chavez Elementary School serves a part of the Norwalk, California community that has over a 90% rate of poverty and a transiency rate over 30%. These are substantial challenges that our students face every day. The challenges that face children living in poverty lead to high dropout rates, failure to meet state academic standards, involvement in gangs, and drugs. At school, common symptoms include negative social interactions such as bullying, fighting, lack of empathy, and apathy.
Before “Coach” arrived at Chavez we worked hard to address the needs of our children and community. Admittedly, we had only mixed success. We also found that as the economy worsens, the conditions of families and children already living in poverty become disproportionately worse and the negative symptoms increase.
Since “Coach Mondolo” arrived at Chavez we have nearly eliminated behavior referrals. Teachers tell me that they have time to teach instead of investigate fights and incidents of bullying. The number of suspensions at Chavez has dropped dramatically. Parents are thrilled; teachers are thrilled, most importantly the children are thrilled. When you walk across the campus during recess you see 100% of the students engaged in creative, exercise dense activities. Students known as “Junior Coaches” monitor and run a huge variety of game stations during each recess. Children all get the opportunity to be a Junior Coach during the school year.
“Coach” has inspired parents in great numbers to arrive at school everyday to assist with a variety of activities such as playground games, helping teachers and school staff, and running community events such as our neighborhood “Play Days”.
In a nutshell, Coach Mondolo has led a social transformation at Cesar Chavez School. Children are focused on learning, parents feel welcome and valued, and teachers feel that they have more time to teach every day. I can say without a doubt that bringing “Coach” (Mr. Luciano Mondolo) to Chavez Elementary is the best thing I have every done as Principal. Our school has become a model for what is possible with ANY community. Mr. Luciano Mondolo is a profoundly excellent leader, person, and educator. He richly deserves to be named AmeriCorp Volunteer of the Year! If I can provide any further information in support of “Coach”, I would be honored to do so.
Principal, Chavez Elementary School