The men and women throughout the Hernando County School District who support the instructional staff have chosen the 2009-2010 School-Related Employees of the Year at their work sites. They include secretaries, paraprofessionals, bookkeepers, custodians, a cafeteria worker, a health care worker and a bus driver.
They and their colleagues all contribute to the safety, cleanliness, organization, well-being and student success in the schools and in district offices. Tonight, they will be recognized and celebrated and a single representative will be chosen as the district's School-Related Employee of the Year.
These are the site School-Related Employees of the Year and a little bit about them.
Brooksville Elementary School
Deborah B.T. Matherly, 63, is the assistant principal's secretary at Brooksville Elementary. She can be found in the front office and her duties include intercom announcements, assisting with discipline, mail distribution and, she said, "anything that needs to be done."
She has been at the school and with the district since April 1994.
Best part of her job: "The children. Seeing them grow and learn is the most rewarding. They love to share their accomplishments and report cards with me. It is my honor and privilege to be able to work with these children."
Central High School
Kathy Didsbury, 51, is a secretary II. She has been with the school and district for 12 years. She is secretary to assistant principal Laura Kane and helps with discipline for 10th grade. She handles correspondence and the tardy table and assists with the general operations of the B-Hall administration office.
Best part of her job: "I work with great colleagues who really give the best education to the students. They're great people."
Donna Poppy, 47, is the data entry specialist/attendance secretary. Her duties include entering and maintaining data pertaining to all 1,557 students, including demographics, grade verifications and information required by the state. She also maintains schedules for students and teachers at elementary and middle levels.
Poppy has been with the district for seven years and at Challenger for five.
Best part of her job: "Being able to do it every day and loving it."
Chocachatti Elementary School
Frankie Tirado, 47, is a lunchroom aide at Chocachatti Elementary. His job is to monitor more than 900 students during a three-hour lunch period and to ensure a safe environment. He has been with the district and at the school for three years.
Best part of his job: "Working with wonderful students and a GREAT staff."
Deltona Elementary School
Patricia Fretto is the front office secretary at Deltona. She has been with the district for 19 years.
Best part of her job: "Her colleagues, the students and family at Deltona."
D.S. Parrott Middle School
Yvette Hart, 45, is an Exceptional Student Education paraprofessional at Powell Middle. She said she assists students and teachers in their learning environment, acts as a translator, assists wherever needed, and works and relates with all students, but mostly at-risk students.
She has been with the district for nine years and at Parrott for more than five of those.
Best part of her job: "When the students reach out, when I see the gleam of pride in their eyes when they strive to better themselves and achieve it."
Homer Lawson, 50, is a custodian 3 at Explorer. "I oversee the school, give job duties, make purchase/warehouse orders. I'm in charge of the custodial staff ensuring that all their supplies are in order so that they can do their job effectively and efficiently," he said.
Lawson has been with the district for 24 years and is in his second year at the school.
Best part of his job: "Being around all the children and watching them grow throughout the years."
Eastside Elementary School
Lola Earles, 62, is a food and nutrition assistant at Eastside. She helps with meal preparations, puts away stock, serves children and cleans up.
She has been with the district for 22 years and at Eastside for 15.
Best part of her job: "Serving nutritious meals to the students."
F.W. Springstead High School
Marybeth Gajdusek, 51, is a secretary II, working for administration and as an assistant in the assessment office. "We organize and analyze all state and district testing within the school. I also assist students in signing up and getting information needed to prepare for college entry exams. i.e., ACT/SAT/CPT. Additionally, I fill in wherever, whenever and however I am needed."
Gajdusek has been with the district and at Springstead for 13 years.
Best part of her job: "Seeing the accomplishments and success of our students at F.W. Springstead High School, and knowing that in some small way I was a part of it."
Fox Chapel Middle School
Steven Norton, 32, is a custodian 3 at Fox Chapel, responsible for maintaining buildings and the overall site appearance. "I oversee and maintain a high standard of safety, cleanliness, and efficiency of all school functions with the assistance of my custodial staff. Purchase supplies and process work-orders/assist maintenance workers on site. Assist with all truck deliveries and to deliver to offices and classrooms on site.''
Norton is in his fourth year with the district and at Fox Chapel.
Best part of his job: "Helping others and serving my community in a positive way."
Hernando High School
Tammi Cantie, 48, is a district bookkeeper at Hernando High. Her duties include managing school district funds, handling payroll, coordinating substitutes and acting as secretary to assistant principal Jill Renihan.
She has been with the district and at the school for seven years.
Best part of her job: "To be able to help others."
J.D. Floyd K-8
Kevin Kaelin, 49, is a custodian 2. His job includes maintaining buildings and grounds, ordering supplies, making repairs and managing custodial staff. He has been with the district and at the school for three years.
Best part of his job: "The satisfaction of knowing I am helping to provide a safe and clean environment for the kids."
Moton Elementary School
Linda Kelbaugh, 52, is a paraprofessional II. She has been at Moton and with the district for 10 years. Her duties include working with children individually and in small groups.
Best part of her job: "When I am in the classroom working with students."
Nature Coast Technical High School
Christa Roberson, 36, is a secretary II at Nature Coast Technical. She is the secretary to assistant principal Robert Griffin, she processes student disciplines and is the Edline coordinator. She has been with the district and at the school for one year.
Best part of her job: "The children. We have amazing young people here at NCT and I feel privileged to be a little part of their lives. Just to be able to offer them a smile or help them get through their day makes my job worthwhile.''
Pine Grove Elementary School
William H. Steele, 63, is a custodian I at Pine Grove. His job includes keeping the campus safe, clean and orderly for all students, faculty and staff. He has been with the district and at the school for nine years.
Best part of his job: "Interacting with the students, faculty and staff and being available to anyone who needs my assistance."
Powell Middle School
Susan Murphy-Hammond handles integrated student support. She assists "Powell's educators in helping students to achieve high performance standards and to help students meet those standards by recognizing that students need diverse pathways for learning," she said.
She has been in the district for seven years and at Powell for six.
Best part of her job: "Working with teachers to help students in developing skills, knowledge and attitudes, so they can have productive futures."
Spring Hill Elementary School
Jo Ann K. Collins, 53, is a paraprofessional with in-school suspension. Her job, she said, is to "assist administration with discipline support." She has been with the district and at Spring Hill for 14 years.
Best part of her job: "Knowing that I have helped a student get through a difficult situation by being able to talk with them about better choices."
Star Education Center
Anne Spano, 46, is bookkeeper at the alternate school and said, "I prepare and process payroll, purchase orders, work orders. Order all supplies, books, software, equipment and any other items the school and staff needs."
She has been with the district for five years and four at STAR.
Best part of her job: "Being able to assist teachers, students, and parents with any concerns or questions. Being able to help them makes my job very fulfilling. When they leave my office smiling it just makes my day."
Suncoast Elementary School
Jessie Jones, 29, is a school health professional. Her duties include taking care of children, dispensing minor first aid, administering fluoride, tracking immunizations and carrying out programs through the health department.
She has been with Suncoast and with the district for three years.
Best part of her job: "We have a great support group around here."
West Hernando Middle School
Grant Gibbs, 61, is a custodian 3. He supervises a crew of eight, cleans the office and is responsible for keeping the school clean and maintained. He has been at West Hernando and with the district for seven years.
Best part of the job: "Seeing that the school is clean and things are in proper order."
Westside Elementary School
Marilyn Koukos, 57, is a secretary II. She handles the front office, coordinates volunteers and substitutes, handles substitute payroll, assists with attendance, coordinates benefits and covers other areas where needed. She is in her third year at Westside and has been with the district for 10 years.
Best part of her job: "All of it is the best part. It has a lot of diversity in it."
Nancy Wright is a human resources operations specialist with Business Services Division/Human Resources Department. She is the secretary to the coordinator of human resources and the contact for the SearchSoft online application system. She collects and maintains evaluations for employees and intern placements.
Wright has been with the district for eight years and at human resources for five.
Best part of my job: "Working with a wonderful group of people in human resources and a terrific group of principals and office staff at the school sites."
Safety and Security
Tony Davidson, 47, is a safety and security specialist. He is the School Board locksmith for 29 facilities. He handles access control systems. He reviews construction plans concerning access and hardware. He takes care of lock service requests for each school in the district.
He has been with the district and Safety and Security for three years.
Best part of the job: "Working with others in the district and within my department towards one common goal, that is the safety and the security of our students and staff in the district so our kids can get a quality education. I also enjoy the challenge of completing multiple projects as I am the only locksmith for the district."
Willie Martinez, 52, is the head custodian for Exceptional Student Education facilities and is responsible for maintaining them. He has been with the district for 18 years and is in his second year at his present site.
Best part of his job: "Being of service to others and maintaining a facility to be proud of."
Edward Piper, 66, is a utility bus operator. "When regular drivers are off, I am responsible for taking their students from home to school and back home again," he said. Utility operators "take spare buses to operators when theirs break down. We pick up paperwork from the administration building and take it to the lounge to be place in individual employee boxes. We work in the dispatch office when needed. We drive buses on field trips. We answer the telephones when needed in the administrating office. I help out with training of new operators who drive the flat-nosed 78-passenger buses. We monitor the two-way radio in the evening after 5:30 p.m. until all buses return from their regular routes. We ensure that all the buildings are secured and all gates are locked before leaving in the evening."
Piper has been with the district for eight years and at his present site for seven years.
The best part of his job: "Driving the school buses and not knowing what job will be assigned to me each morning. I love working with kids and on this job I get a chance to work with kids of all ages and grade levels. We are responsible for the safety of the children on the bus and it is a great feeling of satisfaction when you take children from home to school and back home again safely. From time to time, we are given field trips. We drive kids from one school to play sports, band, ROTC, etc. I really appreciate the trust my supervisors place in me, knowing that I will take care of any situation that comes up after they leave. They also know that I will contact them if something comes up that I cannot handle. I just love this job."