Lissner is receiving the Goodwill Award at the Northern Nevada Black Cultural Awareness Society’s 23rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dinner Celebration.
Lissner has 25 years of experience as a self-employed computer software developer and has built about 3,000 homes in Reno. He’s also demonstrated support for various land transactions for Washoe County elementary schools, including donating the land for Cold Springs Middle School and a YMCA in 2005.
Having homeschooled one of his granddaughters, Lissner became involved in the Washoe County School District first as a volunteer at Booth Elementary School then at Vaughn Middle School.
“It’s quite an honor,” Lissner said. “It’s extremely gratifying to watch students turning into adults as others and I at Vaughn work with them. I particularly like middle school because that’s when students are starting to think like adults.”
Lissner began volunteering for an hour a day at Booth Elementary School in the 2007-08 school year. He helped students in the classroom in the subjects of math and language arts. A year later, he went to Vaughn and began devoting four hours a day, assisting in the wood shop and teaching students plumbing and carpentry skills. Lissner then became licensed as a substitute teacher and works full-time teaching computer and electrical skills.
“I’ve always liked teaching and I’ve observed that teachers need a lot of help,” Lissner said. “A volunteer in the classroom gives a teacher a wider range of opportunities and more freedom to do more with their students and to differentiate the instruction.”
Lisa-Marie Lightfoot, volunteer services coordinator for the district, said Lissner’s career experience has provided a significant investment for WCSD children.
“Bob has taken leadership at Vaughn Middle School,” Lightfoot said. “He’s really taken what he knows about his field in construction and he’s developed a volunteer program at Vaughn. He does all this and is running his own program that has been critical in inspiring kids to stay in school and learn more about the trades.”
The winners of the Dr. King’s School essay contest also will be announced at the dinner, as well as the Community Service and Youth Leadership awards.
The celebration takes place today with a reception at 6 p.m. followed by the program and dinner at 7 p.m. at the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino’s Tuscany Ballroom. The theme of this year’s dinner is “Dare to Inspire.”