Experience Making a Difference

Experience Making a Difference

IVC NCA Members “Team Up” in Service at St. Philip the Apostle Catholic School

by | Apr 4, 2024

At St. Philip the Apostle Catholic School in Camp Springs, Md., IVC Service Corps members Flavia Favali, Maureen McMahon, and Maria Otoo are not only volunteer staff members – they are also considered part of the school family. “We’re very grateful to them,” says Mr. Raven A. Wilkins, Sr.,  the school’s principal. “They go over and beyond, and our students and teachers love having them here.”

With a diverse enrollment of 140 students from PreK 3’s through eighth grade, St. Philip offers a well-rounded curriculum, featuring core subjects such as mathematics, reading, and science. Students also benefit from music, art, Spanish, and computer instruction, among others. This year,  the school’s library is especially “the place to be” –  with programs facilitated by IVC service corps members.

Wilkins first contacted IVC for staff support in 2022, when he envisioned restoring the library as a welcoming place for students to sit and quietly read. Flavia Favali, a former Prince George’s County teacher who holds master’s degrees in transitional special education and church and community leadership, became IVC’s first service corps member at St. Philip. She staffs the library one day each week, providing multiple grades each with their own forty-five-minute learning and reading session. “Every week is different,” she says. “I do what the teachers want, but I also have a lesson plan prepared.”

This year, Favali also arranged for an all-school field trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and, to learn more about being good stewards of the environment,  for another field trip to Montgomery County Recycles. She plans on starting a composting program at St. Philip in the 2024-25 school year!

Also staffing the library is Maureen McMahon, who works with multiple grades on her assigned day.  For the PreK 3, PreK 4, and Kindergarten classes, “each child is given their own special book to read on their visit, and then we spend time drawing,” she says.  “And the older students write odes to a person, place, or thing that they love.”  McMahon, who holds a master’s degree in English, is a retired college and high school educator.  She really enjoys her assignment working with young students. “I like being there.  I taught for over thirty years, and this is really a delight because I want to make them happy – and it’s a break for them and their teachers.”

Joining Favali and McMahon at St. Philip this year is Maria Otoo, who volunteers one day each week in the main office. “I enjoy helping out wherever I can,” she says of her service that includes going through files, updating records, and responding to inquiries.  Otoo notes that the school’s two full-time staff members have a lot to do, and helping make their jobs easier brings good feelings all around.  For this retired Ph.D Federal Reserve Board economist – doing something completely different at St. Philip is very fulfilling. “Just seeing the kids is priceless!”

For Principal Wilkins, having IVC members serve at St. Philip has made all the difference.  “They are invested in St. Philip, which we love and appreciate.  By offering library periods, teachers have additional planning time, and our office staff isn’t overwhelmed.  Share the love for IVC – for anyone interested in being a part of it, I recommend joining!”