Jefferson Schools awards staff members
By Kevin Dye
The Jefferson Local Board of Education opened their meeting Monday night by recognizing individuals in the district who have made an impact in the classroom and in the district garage with the newly created Staff Recognition Awards.
School principals Gary Bell, Debbie Omen, Dave Metz and Superintendent William Mullett presented individuals for the Staff Recognition Awards. The individuals who received the awards were Norwood Elementary library aide Melissa Jones, West Jefferson Middle School seventh grade science teacher Paula Nance, West Jefferson High School social studies teacher Jenny Siddiqi and mechanic Ryan Gross.
“It’s my distinct honor to recognize Melissa Jones,” Norwood Principal Bell said. “She puts in a lot of time after school. She spends a lot of time with our book fair, which helps us financially. Whenever we have an after-school event, you can bet she is the driving force behind it. She is a real asset to our building.”
West Jefferson Middle School principal Debbie Omen had equal praise for Paula Nance and she shared with the board what a positive influence she is for the students of the middle school.
“Our students know that when Mrs. Nance talks about them, she honestly cares about them,” Omen said. “She provides opportunity for students to work hard. She tries every day to make a difference in the life of her students and she makes learning fun.”
Teacher Jenny Siddiqi wears many hats at the high school and she is instrumental in offering the government classes at the school as well as the advanced history projects, community service projects and mock trial events.
“Jenny’s advanced history student projects have received advanced and state recognition,” Principal Metz said. “She is in charge or our students service community projects and you can see the result of those in the community. She gives of herself completely and obviously our students have been very successful because of this lady.”
The final Staff Recognition award went to mechanic Ryan Gross. He was recognized for the attention to detail he takes in preparing the district’s school buses and for the care and work he performs in his role at the district garage. Gross’ dedication to his craft and the district’s fleet many times saves the district un-told funds by completing work that would normally have to be sent out for repairs.
“Ryan is one of the most talented people we have in the district,” Superintendent Mullett said. “He saves the district thousands and thousands of dollars by working on our buses. It’s work that we would normally have to send out, but Ryan is the guy to fix it. He is a very fascinating individual to get to know.”
The board was also presented with a presentation from middle school guidance counselor Amy Dranschak on how she is working to change the culture at the school when it comes to the subject of bullying and is working to Roughrider Virtues at the school.
Dranschak said that she has presented a three part program to the middle school students on bullying. The first part helped students to identify the types of bullying and it included a bully pretest to see what students knew about the subject. The second part of the program dealt with specific bullying issues, including how to stand up to bullying and ways to help diffuse a bullying situation. It also offered advice on when the situation required the individual to report the bullying incident.
The final part of the bullying program dealt with cyber-bullying. It taught students how to protect themselves from incidents of bullying online and bullying when it came to cell phone use. The students also took a post bullying test for them to recall some of the material they had learned from the three part program.
Dranschak also said that she has worked to make sure that students know where her office is and how to contact her when the need arises. Board president Dave Harper asked if Dranschak had seen any improvement in student behavior or any drop in the amount of bullying incidents since the program was completed.
“I try to model the behavior that I want the students to exhibit,” Dranschak said. “So, I say Hi to everyone in the halls and ask how they are. I’ve noticed that the kids are acting a lot nicer to one another. They are saying Hi to each other and saying things like that’s a nice outfit you have on today.”
She also explained that the middle school has instituted the Roughrider Virtue awards for students. Any student who is witnessed by a staff member demonstrating one or more Roughrider Virtues can receive the recognition. Roughrider Virtues cover such things as honesty, caring, integrity, peace making, friendly, kind, diligent and respectful behaviors. Once a student has been recognized for one of the Roughrider Virtues the student receives a Roughrider locker tag recognizing their accomplishment and a note is sent home to inform their parents of their child’s recognition.
The middle school students also raised $337.75 from the recent Spirit Day event. The students will use $150 of the funds to prepare and serve a meal to families using the Ronald McDonald House at Children’s Hospital in Columbus and the rest will be used to purchase gift cards to help with the community toy drive.