This feature is about parent Shaunti Dennis and is a monthly column by USNA to encourage volunteers.
by Melissa Flatt, USNA volunteer coordinator
Last year, I was asked by our illustrious University School of Nashville Association if I would consider being the step-up volunteer coordinator. As the name implies, that is a two-year commitment, with the second year being the volunteer coordinator. It's my second year. Don't get me wrong, it's cool to have a title, but what I really do are two main things: 1. If you say you'd like to get involved at USN, I help you connect with the right person and place (as I said, cool job, but even better, wait for it…), and 2. I get to interview really awesome people who volunteer at USN and share their stories with you. All that said, here's the next installment of this year’s column I like to call “I didn’t realize."
February is a month known for love, and we’re so in love with this month’s USN spotlight volunteer, Shaunti Dennis. Shaunti is married to Ronnie, and they have two beautiful children at USN, Dylan ’26 and Carter ’29. Of course, Shaunti stays busy with her family shuttling kids to Theater Bug, dance, sports, drum lessons, and doctor’s appointments, but she also works full time at Trader Joe’s. Recently, she’s become a new foster mom.
If anyone wouldn’t have time to volunteer, it could be Shaunti. Instead, Shaunti has been fully committed to volunteering at USN for six years, beginning with Dylan’s kindergarten year. She’s been a helping hand, a helping hand coordinator (second grade), a room parent, and an advisory parent. She has helped with Artclectic, Fall Fest, and Fall Book Frenzy. Shaunti has helped with the Middle School musical, Grandparents and Special Friends’ Day, and the nominating committee. Most recently, Shaunti helped chaperone the Middle School trip to the Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta.
Melissa: So, Shaunti, with 1000+ things to occupy your time, why do you volunteer?
Shaunti: Because I love the school, and I want to help foster a feeling of family at USN. Volunteering offers parents a chance to get closer and get to know each other. Our school is small enough that we can create memories with each other and make lifelong commitments to each other as parents and to the children. When I was growing up, my mom wasn’t able to be at my school events, so I’ve craved that parental involvement at school since I was as a young person. I want to be involved. I want to strengthen the community, and that comes through volunteering in that community.
Melissa: Is there anything you’d like to see change here at USN?
Shaunti: I’d like to see more participation in the community for co-curricular activities like pep rallies as well as supporting sports teams and theatre—all the things that are not academic. I want us to have more support from the parents to get out there and support the kids; that support will then encourage our kids.
Melissa: So Shaunti, would you volunteer again?
Shaunti: I will always volunteer wherever I’m needed. The school supports our family. The parents are willing to help out, and the school has been really good about working with special needs my family might have, so I will always help. Oh, and so will Ronnie.
Shaunti, you are amazing, and we will always be there for you, too. Thank you for all that you do. And thank Ronnie for us, too.