Vikki Ausiello began her volunteer work at Village School in Santa Rosa six years ago as many parents do: helping in her son's kindergarten class, aiding in reading circles and helping with glitter and glue.
But soon she was acting as a dance docent and then an art docent, leading monthly enrichment lessons. Then she picked up an hour-a-day shift in the front office. Four years ago, she was elected treasurer of the Village Elementary Parents Club, and two years ago she was selected as president.
"She spearheads almost every activity we do," Village Principal Maria McCormick said.
"She is one of those parents that just comes in, sees a need and makes it happen," she said. "She certainly has that undying commitment to making students' lives a little happier."
Ausiello, who now has a third-grader on campus, spends about 20 hours a week on campus, spearheading fundraising efforts, representing the campus at district meetings and trying to launch a school garden program. She even brings in extra sets of clothes to have on hand in the office in case little ones have an accident.
"It's a whole team effort," Ausiello said. "I know a lot of parents who want to do it, but they can't because they have to work. I'm really lucky."
Parents and staff who have worked with Ausiello said she has her hands in everything and quietly makes things happen.
"She is in every aspect of what we do at the school," McCormick said. "She is a great face for our school."
The parent group focuses its fundraising efforts on earning enough to support field trips, but also tries to provide new technology to students and teachers. The group organizes cookie-dough and gift-wrap sales, as well as walk-a-thons.
"We just bought five more iPads, but wouldn't it be nice to have a class set of 30?" she said. "We are just chugging away, little by little."
Ausiello said the school's demographics — about half of the school's 416-students qualify for free or reduced-priced lunches and nearly 20 percent are English-language learners — make her work more rewarding.
"I just love to see the growth of the kids — the kids who come to kindergarten who come not speaking a word of English, and by second grade they are reading. It's just amazing," she said.
(Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. She can be reached at 526-8671, email@example.com or on Twitter @benefield.)