Making A Difference
Utrust is in the process of identifying school employees who have made and/or are making a significant difference in their schools, school systems or the lives of students or other employees who work in the schools. The following school employees have been nominated by someone in their school district as a difference maker. Some of the persons whose stories are highly inspirational and motivational to others have been selected as a Utrust Difference Maker. They are identified with a Utrust Difference Maker logo and a link to a video and/or a written story about each of them is included. Their stories have become a permanent part of the Utrust online library.
We welcome and appreciate your submitting stories to recognize and honor those who have distinguished themselves by their service to others in a school setting. Please complete a nomination form
for anyone that you wish to honor in this manner.
Those selected will be honored with recognition in their local newspaper and will earn the title "Utrust Difference Maker".
We commend each of the following for being identified by someone in their school system for making a difference:
SUBMITTED BY JACKSON COUNTY’S FREDA HAMMOCK.
Alex Patterson should be considered for Employee of the Year. Mr. Alex does an exceptional job at teaching Social Studies, coaching basketball and sponsoring FCA. Social Studies test scores have increased since he has taken on that role and responsibility in the upper grades. Our boys’ basketball team has just made back to back appearances in the Springfield A tournament. Mr. Alex helped our students in FCA complete a shoe box project for the needy at Christmas. Mr. Alex did an excellent job in first grade, but when a position came open in the upper grades, I asked him to consider taking it. I wanted him to be a role model for our upper grade boys. He is definitely that role model. He sets an example inside the classroom, on the court as coach and outside in his everyday life. He brings Social Studies to life as he teaches. If you visit his classroom, the decor brings about great conversations about different eras of our history. Students like Mr. Alex, but they also respect him. He is definitely a motivator. Specifically, this year I have seen his influence on a young man on the basketball team. He has pushed him to work on his temper and aggression on the court as well as setting goals in the classroom to improve. That young man communicated to me during a conference how much Mr. Alex’s words play in his head and have made him stop and think. Although this is one specific example, I know there are many other young men who are touched by Mr. Alex and his desire to help students be the best they can be. In addition, Mr. Alex is an excellent artist. He has volunteered and given his time repeatedly to help with backdrops for summer school plays and holiday productions. Overall, Mr. Alex is a huge asset to Dodson Branch School. He makes a difference and should be considered for Employee of the Year!
SUBMITTED BY JACKSON COUNTY SCHOOL STAFF AND FREDA HAMMOCK.
MR. JOE BARLOW
While our employees positively impact the lives of children every day, the person who really makes the difference in the Jackson County School System is our Director of Schools Joe Barlow. Of course the director of a school system should be the person who most impacts students and staff, but few directors put in the time and effort that Mr. Barlow does.
His door is never closed to students, parents or teachers. If he were paid by the hour, he is probably not even receiving minimum wage. He always arrives at the office before 7:00 AM and rarely leaves before 5:00 PM. On "snow days" he is out checking roads before 3:00 AM. Add to that, board meetings, athletic and academic events, community events, and professional meetings, and he really puts in long hours!
He currently serves as Director of the Upper Cumberland Superintendent's Study Council, serves on the State Superintendent's Study Council Board, the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Advisory Board, and the Jackson County Health Council. In addition, he just completed his Ed.S at Tennessee Technological University in December of 2008.
Despite all these commitments, Mr. Barlow is noted for his caring compassion for students. Whether he is reading to a group of Pre-K students, cheering on our High School football team, observing a science experiment in a middle school class, or lobbying lawmakers for more support for education, Mr. Barlow always puts the children of Jackson County first. He is also a vocal supporter for teachers and staff in he system, and never misses an opportunity to show them that they are appreciated. His caring example encourages his employees to be the best they can be.
DR. JANET BARNARD:
SUBMITTED BY DR. C. EDDIE SHOFFNER, DIRECTOR.
Dr. Janet Barnard is a person who makes a difference in the Claiborne County School System. She is the Supervisor of Instruction K-8 for the Claiborne County School System. Prior to that, she served as Special Education Director and Principal of Springdale Elementary School.
During her tenure, Dr. Barnard has become on of the state's experts in reading and math. She has worked hard and diligently to mainstream special education, and implemented reading intervention programs that are above and beyond most rural school districts. She has been instrumental in finding grant money to provide in-service and summer programs. Dr. Janet Barnard is one of the most intelligent educators I've ever met in my life. I have worked in three school systems, and can say without a doubt that she has made a difference far and beyond what I've seen in my tenure in education.
Dr. Barnard has given her personal money, and time to make sure Claiborne County was meeting the standards as set forth in "No Child Left Behind". She is a team leader, has the highest ethical and moral standards, and is an example for everyone to follow. She, more than anyone else, is responsible for the progress that the Claiborne County School System has made.
SUBMITTED BY: GRAINGER COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT
Jodie Roach has been the school secretary/bookkeeper at Joppa Elementary School for thirteen years. Before that, she spent several years as a fourth grade teaching assistant. Mrs. Roach makes an amazing impact on day to day operations of the school. She is very knowledgeable of all technical information needed for school record keeping. Her track record for yearly audits is impeccable. Mrs. Roach maintains student records with great attention to detail and volunteers many hours to ensure the office runs smoothly. However, what makes Mrs. Roach such a great asset to Joppa School is her approach to her job and her relationship with parents, staff and most importantly students. She is rarely absent, and is happy to pick up any supplies needed to help school operations. Mrs. Roach greets everyone that enters the office with a warm and inviting smile. It is very apparent that she enjoys her job and takes pleasure in talking with everyone that comes through the office. Parents feel very comfortable with her and enjoy coming in to pick up their children. She makes each of them feel important and can call most of the students by name. The staff looks to Mrs. Roach to help with some of the daily communication with parents and can depend on her to keep student information confidential. The students are very much at ease with Mrs. Roach and often refer to her lovingly as the "owner of the school". She frequently entertains the students by dressing up as the "Cat in the Hat" or some other character when needed for a school function. Her devotion to her job helps to make Joppa School a great place to work and a great school to attend. Jodie Roach is a rare find in a school secretary and we are very fortunate to have her.
SUBMITTED BY: FAYETTEVILLE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT
Brenda Posey is a special person who works diligently for the students and staff of Fayetteville Intermediate School. She is a "first line" substitute, meaning that she fills in for any teacher who is absent. On the rare occasion that no teacher is absent, she is an instructional assistant, helping both students and teachers make the day run smoothly. When something out of the ordinary needs to be done, Brenda is the person on which to call. She willingly helps out with activities outside the school day, always putting the students and staff first. Brenda Posey truly makes a difference.
SUBMITTED BY: WARREN COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM
One could say that Ms. Joye Fuston's phone extension is on everyone's speed dial list. She is the quintessential "multi-tasker". Ms. Fuston has the ability to type up school board meeting minutes, field phone calls from parents, teachers, administrators, the media and board members, as well as keeping up with weather alerts broadcast on NOAH radio, and all at the same time! According to Director of Schools, Dr. Jerry Hale, "Ms. Fuston is efficient, professional, and committed to the students, parents, and employees of our school system."
In addition to Ms. Fuston's service to the Warren County School System, she is dedicated to her church and outreach programs for those in need. She tutors inmates at our local jail each week, teaching them to read and to pray. Lending support to her son and his family during his third tour of duty in Iraq, Ms. Fuston regularly packs and sends care packages to her son and his fellow comrades. Her care for her co-workers includes driving colleagues to doctor's appointments, sending care packages and cards when someone is sick, and cooking and delivering meals to those who are unable to do some for themselves.
Ms. Joye Fuston is a gift to our school system and we are fortunate to call her our friend.
SUBMITTED BY: HAWKINS COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM
Bus Driver Mrs. Joann Sexton goes the extra mile everyday! She shows a genuine caring for the kids. She asks them about their families, and tells them she misses them when they've been absent. Kindergarten students from her intervention groups sing the ABC's to her on the bus ride home. One student on her bus has started reading on the ride home, this I think is due to her bragging on him at school to others. She buys her own treats to give to the students daily. She pitches in with anything we have a need for at school, putting up tables, unpacking boxes, hanging up thousands of sheets of paper from book reports. Mrs. Sexton comes in early daily and lends a hand throughout the school to help us out. We all love Mrs. JoAnn!
SUBMITTED BY PRINCIPAL CHARLOTTE WEBB AT JOSEPH ROGERS PRIMARY IN HAWKINS COUNTY
Rita Harris is a shining star who greets our students by name each morning outside in the cold, rain or heat. She works with them throughout the day, prepares beautiful seasonal displays for our school and visitors. She's also a fantastic cook and brings surprise meals for her grade-level faculty and staff. She comes prepared to make a difference every day.
SUBMITTED BY: PRINCIPAL GAIL MYERS, JACKSON COUNTY MIDDLE SCHOOL
June Stewart is the receptionist at Jackson County Middle School. Even though she is paid to work from 7:00-2:30 with a 30 minute lunch, she stays until 3:00 and works through lunch EVERY day just to put students first in every way. She manages a mirage of tasks daily and no two minutes are the same. She comes in early daily to unlock the doos for those students who are dropped off before 7:00 AM. June signs students in through the office for early morning tutoring, helps supervise Sammie, who needs a little extra care, and organizes the mail, all before 7:30.
If someone calls in sick, she rushes to finds a sub or rearrange parapro's schedules to cover. She answers the phone (four incoming lines and all the teachers' in-house calls) transferring, taking messages, and giving out information on topics from annual sales to ball practice schedules. June makes announcements, answers the door, and helps the school nurse pass out meds. She repairs glasses, decorates the office, and knows all 500-plus students by name, their parents, and where most of them live.
She works when she doesn't feel like it, and makes things work for everyone. Her energetic, positive outlook is contagious. She's GREAT!
SUBMITTED BY: JACKSON COUNTY SCHOOLS & SPECIAL ED. SUPERVISOR DANNY HOLDER
Jody has distinguished herself as an outstanding member of our school team over her many years of service in the Jackson County School System. Her dedication to providing quality service while maintaining a caring persona exemplifies what an educator should be. She consistently maintains an exemplary level of professionalism. Jody's job requires her to safeguard confidential information of special need's students, which she has consistently demonstrated throughout her career. Her attention to the individual needs of students is truly remarkable. Jody has never lost the personal touch. While juggling her assorted duties, she has been able to retain the "sparkle" that is reflected in the eyes of her students. In addition to providing for the individual needs of the students, she provides a positive example to her peers as well. Jody is every bit the team player.
SUBMITTED BY: WILSON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT
Mattie Gregory has been a valuable employee of Wilson County Schools for approximately 23 years. She is the receptionist at the Central Office, but her duties and responsibilities go far beyond answering the phones. She is instrumental in the day to day management of the Central Office while performing her duties in assisting callers and visitors with the correct contact person and information. She represents Wilson County Schools very well as the first person you meet upon entering or calling the Wilson County Board of Education. Her knowledge and friendly disposition serves as a reminder that “first impressions” are important.
But, what really makes Mattie shine is her baking. Magic Mattie, as an employee referred to her yesterday, bakes everyone at the Central Office a cake on their birthday. You just love having birthdays, because you know Mattie is going to bake you a “made from scratch” cake to share with your co-workers.
Mattie Gregory “Makes a Difference” every day!
SUBMITTED BY: GRAINGER COUNTY SCHOOLS
On school days, Sheila Morgan serves food for thought. Her breakfasts and lunches fuel learning at Rutledge Elementary where she’s worked for eight years. But on Friday’s, holidays and through the summer, she sends children home with food-filled backpacks that feed their souls. Because, due to her efforts with Second Harvest, Morgan makes sure "the children of Grainger County don't go to bed hungry."
Retired Principal Stanley Roach and Morgan dreamed up the backpack plan four years ago. Since then , the program has quadrupled.