Dedicated school volunteer steps down after 20 years

Education By Alexandra Herrera, Reporter Thursday, May 19, 2022

     Adriana Schwinghammer is about to retire from a job where her sole reward is the gratification of a job well done. 

     And she’s been at it – as a volunteer at Miami Lakes K-8 Center  – for two decades. 

     Schwinghammer, 52, of Miami Lakes -- the mother of Broderick, 25, Chloe, 22, and Aiden, 14, with her husband Sean Schwinghammer – has watched many, many young lives build their educational foundations at the school.

     “It doesn’t feel like 20 years, when you think about it, it’s gone fairly quickly because I’ve been busy,” Schwinghammer said.

     Schwinghammer will walk out of the school, at 14250 NW 67th Ave., a final time with her youngest son, eighth-grader Aidan Schwinghammer, on June 8. 

     He will graduate, and she will too, in a way.

     She has been credited with everything from helping restart the Parent Teacher Student Association to assisting teachers in their classrooms.

     That work for lower grades included preparing worksheets; readying items for reading activities and special lessons during holidays that may have included food tastings and themed books.

     She also served on the Educational Excellence School Advisory Council.

     The council – with administrators, teachers, parents and community members – identified needs such as new computers and found the money to fulfill them, she said.

     Former principal Rosy Calvo tapped Schwinghammer to be president and restart the PTSA. 

     In that role, Schwinghammer worked for two years to raise funds for gym supplies, buy books and technology and items for celebrations for the kids. 

     She’s been a familiar face to parents, students, teachers and staff.    

     Monica Santos, secretary to the principal, has worked in the elementary school alongside her all this time.

     Santos said despite the volunteer label, Schwinghammer has been as dedicated to the work as if it was a full-time job. 

     The school, where 1,163 students are enrolled in pre-kindergarten through eighth grades, was rated A in 2019, the last year rankings were released.

    “She was practically here every day,” Santos said. 

     Schwinghammer spent roughly 35 hours each week working in classrooms and the school.  She says watching teachers and students work was “amazing. It’s such a special time in their childhoods and it’s so wonderful to see their little minds open up and enjoy everything.”  

     Schwinghammer said her school involvement began when she wanted to be around her own children but said all the other students quickly became like her own.  

     As her kids got older, Schwinghammer advanced with them, helping put together committees to raise funds for fifth and eighth grade field trips and dances.

     Through booster clubs, teachers were reimbursed with gift cards to pay for classroom supplies.

     In 2014, the school nominated her and she was awarded Outstanding Volunteer of the Year with Miami-Dade County Public Schools. 

     “I was really taken a back and it was really special,” Schwinghammer said. 

     She is pursuing a third college degree, this time in Histotechnology, a study of body tissues and abnormalities. 

     Her husband has survived colon cancer and his experience has spurred her to study tissue science. 

     “It’s really time to start focusing on myself a little,” Schwinghammer said. 

    “Even though I have a master’s degree in psychology I decided I wanted to start over.” 

     She is hoping to pursue a career in lab work. 

     While she is excited to resume her own studies, she will miss watching children grow.

     She said she is grateful for the teachers at Miami Lakes K-8 Center who have shared their knowledge and have been so fundamental in the success of the students. 

     She also appreciated the administrators who supported having the PTSA there.

     And she is thankful she could witness how her own kids were taught. 

     “I’m very, very grateful for having experienced [their] childhoods like that,” Schwinghammer. 

 

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