Linda Fawkes is a recipient of the San Francisco Education Fund’s 2015-16 Distinguished Service Award.
This is the second year in a row that Linda Fawkes has been nominated for the Distinguished Service Award.
That her name has been thrown into the ring by multiple school staff is a testament to her presence at Dr. Charles Drew College Prep Academy.
“She is helpful, kind, considerate, caring, trustworthy, and is always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty,” said teacher Kemet Bender, who nominated Linda this year.
While officially a volunteer in our Literacy Program, Linda has become enmeshed with Drew in many more ways since she started dedicating her time there in 2013.
“She volunteers her time during assemblies and performances,” Mr. Bender said. “She also goes on field trips; she been on every one I’ve had and has provided help with the students and snacks.”
She takes care of students as if they were her own and does so without any expectations. The school has a set of burgundy blazers that they loan to students. When she realized the frequency with which students were wearing the school’s blazers, she took it upon herself to spiff them up. She takes them home to wash them and ensures each has its own set of sturdy buttons.
Linda also takes on extra projects like a book sorting assignment in which she is sorting and leveling a massive book donation.
In addition to the extensive list of projects, Linda helps model for students how to make good choices and demonstrates that it’s OK to make mistakes, “because grown-ups make mistakes,” Mr. Bender said. “She shows empathy for others,” he added.
If you watch Linda while she works, you’ll often hear her complimenting her students, who are in 2nd grade this year. “You’ve never seen that word before. Nice job breaking it down,” she’ll say, or “You’re very strong at that” when asking a student to read aloud.
“She makes eye contact with them, and she listens to them, and she knows what they’re interested in and what they’re not interested in,” observed Jessica Blundell, a literacy coordinator at the school.
When the San Francisco Education Fund created the Literacy Program, Linda jumped right in to volunteer. “Literacy competence is critical for their future,” Linda said. “[It is critical] to their ability to get an education, to work, to interact in their world.”
Linda’s constant preparedness and positive attitude makes everyone feel more supported in their work, Ms. Blundell said. She also praised Linda’s desire to learn and ask questions, adding that frequently checks in to ask what she can do to improve her practice.
“She wants very much to help. She also cares enough to learn how a visitor to the Bayview/Hunters Point community might help without unintentionally hurting. It is no easy task to reach out – in an authentic way — across barriers created by difference in culture, language and geography. It requires a deep level of self-awareness and reflection, as well as an emotional and intellectual appreciation of difference. It is clear from her commitment to know and understand our students, that Linda is our partner in the larger project of educational equity.”
Her talent for connecting with people stands out.
“She remembers my birthday and knows what the kids had for lunch,” Ms. Blundell said. “She very much comes in as a human being and treats kids as human beings.”
Linda said she seeks to make a connection with each student she interacts with, and it certainly shows.
“The students are calmer and more relaxed and so am I,” Mr. Bender said, “The students take notice of her kindness and gentleness and are more kind to each other.”
Read about the other two recipients of the 2015-16 Distinguished Service Awards:
Paul Ma, who volunteers in Philip & Sala Burton High School’s junior year engineering class.
Dropbox, a Circle the Schools corporate partner at Mission High School.
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