Palmetto High School junior Rachel Glassman recently won the Panther of Distinction Award. Glassman is not only a good student who puts school first, she also has a strong record of community service.
Glassman participates in the Achieve Miami program at Goulds Elementary. Teens go to Goulds two Saturdays a month to help the elementary students improve their literacy.
The children are known as Little Buddies. They choose the teen they want to work with. The Little Buddy then reads to the volunteer and the volunteer helps them with any difficult words and asks questions to ensure the child comprehends the story.
“Most of the time I am picked by a fourth or fifth grader and they tend to read chapter books so we don’t normally finish,” she says. “We choose a new book every time so, they take it home to finish reading. At the end, we have recess and we play with them.”
Glassman says it makes her feel special and happy when a little buddy chooses her.
“And they always run up with a huge smile, excited to work with us,” she says.
She became involved at the urging of a friend.
“She kept asking me to go and I finally went and I fell in love with it,” Glassman says. “I haven’t stopped since. Once you leave, you feel so great. You totally made the kid’s week. They look forward to seeing you and that keeps me going back.”
At Palmetto, Glassman is the incoming editor-in-chief for the yearbook.
She’s excited to put her own imprint on the book and to be responsible for more than one section. Palmetto has a long history of terrific yearbooks and she’s thrilled to be able to continue that legacy.
This school year she was the events editor and her sophomore year she was the clubs editor.
She took journalism her freshman year and that’s where she discovered design.
“I love designing,” she says.
For two years, Glassman has been the Student Council liaison on the Inter Club Council. She hopes to have the same position next year.
She’s also a part of the Health Information Project which teaches ninth graders about health topics.
“I really love it,” she says. “We form a bond with the kids we teach. It helps us reach them better.”
Glassman is the current and incoming treasurer of the service club, Interact. Interact participates in community service programs by sponsoring the club member’s service projects and they raise money with their big project, Panthers Got Talent.
The recent talent show raised almost $2,000 that was donated to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.
Interact also participates in the Halloween Trick or Treat, Food to Eat program.
“Instead of going for candy, they will collect cans of food to donate,” she says.
Glassman is also a member of the National Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society.
Outside of school, Glassman is the BBYO vice president of Jewish Heritage, Community Service and Social Action. This year she attended the BBYO International Convention in Orlando.
“It was so exciting,” she says. “The first night we had an opening ceremony. It was amazing to see how many Jews there were in one place, unified. People from all over the country and all over the world.”
She hasn’t had time to consider college applications yet, although she will start this summer, but she would love to follow in her family’s footsteps and become a Florida Gator. She is keeping an open mind though and will explore other options both in state and out of state.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld