Awards go to four West Jeff school employees
In their first annual presentation of recognition awards, Jefferson Local school board members honored a quartet of employees.
High school social studies teacher Jenny Siddiqi, seventh-grade science teacher Paula Nance, Norwood Elementary library aide Melissa Jones, and mechanic Ryan Gross received awards during the Nov. 12 board meeting.
“Jenny always goes above and beyond,” said Principal Dave Metz. Siddiqi’s repertoire of classes includes American government, American history, advanced trial procedures and criminal law.
“She gives of herself completely to our students and our students have been successful because of this lady. She is a graduate of West Jefferson and has a major impact on our students. I would consider her one of the best (teachers) I’ve ever seen.”
Middle school Principal Debbie Omen praised Nance’s work in and out of the classroom and called her “unstoppable.”
“Regardless of the barriers, she’s determined to give students the best possible education and I have a hard time staying out of her classroom,” Omen said. “She grows students and future citizens.”
Gary Bell, Norwood principal, said Jones began volunteering at the school before becoming a library aide and special events organizer.
“She’s an outstanding person and we’re lucky to have her,” Bell said.
Superintendent William Mullet said the service Gross provides to the district goes beyond his job title of bus mechanic.
“He is one of the most talented individuals in our district,” Mullett said. “He saves the district thousands and thousands of dollars, and he doesn’t always get to do it in the greatest of circumstances... Ryan has a lot of interests outside of work and is a fascinating individual.”
Board member Jerry Doran said the board initiated the awards program to recognize employees who do good work. While the first round of awards were initiated by administrators, it will be up to district employees to determine honorees in the future.
In other presentations, middle school guidance counselor Amy Dranschak updated the board on her office’s efforts regarding bullies and cyber bullying.
“We’re trying to get kids to change the school climate a little at a time,” she said. “We discuss bullying situations and how to get out of them. We also talk about how to stand up to a bully and helping friends.”
When asked if she noticed a difference in the building following her presentations, Dranschak said she observed students “being a lot nicer to each other” and doing a good job of apprising adults of potential bullying situations.
“The sixth-graders are really getting involved,” she said. “Kids are asking me to help. I’d like to get them involved more and have peers as models. That would be a wonderful thing.”