April 16, 2018
Teachers of the Month for April and Employees of the Month for March and April were honored at the Wakulla County School Board Meeting on April 16, 2018.
Says Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “Teachers Katie Hart and Carrie Pigott plus employees Patricia Larsen, Kathy Galloway and Lucinda McClendon were selected by their peers to be recognized for their positive impact on Wakulla County students, staff, and community. I am proud to be able to honor them.”
Riversink Elementary chose library media specialist Katie Hart as the April Teacher of the Month.
Originally from Indiana, Hart earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Ball State.
She went on to earn a master’s degree in School Library from the University of South Florida.
Hart worked as a teacher and media specialist for 14 years in Citrus, Osceola, and Leon Counties in Florida.
“We moved to Wakulla County in 2001 because of the school system’s reputation, and I was fortunate enough to later be hired here and open a new library,” Hart explains. She is now in her 10th year as library media specialist at Riversink Elementary as part of the flagship faculty that opened the new school in 2008.
“I love helping all students at Riversink find books they want to read. I usually see every child at least once a week; oftentimes I feel like the grandma of Riversink!”
Hart has one of the few positions which interacts with every child in the school, so she encourages students however she can. As part of a recent assembly to encourage the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders who take the Florida Standards Assessment test, she used money from book fairs to purchase every student and teacher blue “You know it. Now show it.” bracelets and Smarties.
“I encouraged them to wear their bracelets during testing to remind themselves to do their best.”
Hart also has organized the Riversink Positive Behavior Support program for 10 years. She is also the RES Calendar Committee representative and is a member of the Delta Kappa Gamma women educators’ honor society.
RES Principal Simeon Nelson notes, “Mrs. Hart is one of the most dedicated teachers I have seen. She makes the library fun for our students while giving them a sense of independence and freedom to pursue their interests. Mrs. Hart is the ‘heart’ of RES not just in location, but in spirit as well.”
Carrie Pigott is in her 4th year as a Wakulla Pre-K teacher. After 15 years of working for the Secretary of State and the Florida Senate, she pursued her dream of teaching.
A graduate of Leon High School in Tallahassee, she earned her AA degree at Tallahassee Community College and a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Flagler College.
“In 2014 I applied for a time-limited position at Crawfordville Elementary and was given a chance to realize my dream thanks to then Principal Angie Walker.”
“I have two children who graduated from Wakulla High and one currently in Shadeville Elementary, so I know the quality of education in our schools and wouldn’t want to teach anywhere else.”
As a pre-kindergarten teacher, she says, “I love being a part of a student’s first experience in school, making sure they feel safe, secure, and loved. I love experiencing things with them for the first time and seeing their excitement when learning something new.”
If she had to pick her favorite thing, she says it is “the gratification I feel when I see the academic and social progress they make throughout the year.”
Pigott adds, “I often spend Saturdays going to garage sales, thrift stores, and department stores’ clearance sales looking for interesting books and thematic toys to use in my classroom. In the new home that we built, my husband insisted on a fourth bedroom so I would have room for all of my ‘stuff’!”
She serves on the Pre-K Graduation and Kagan Strategies committees and is the Project Learning Tree coordinator.
Says Wakulla Pre-K Principal Laura Kelley, “Her classroom is full of action with hands-on activities, music and movement, scientific inquiry, and exploration that directly relate to the theme or unit she’s teaching. Plus, she is a team player, working closely with her colleagues to plan school-wide activities for Earth Day and our school garden.”
“Ms. Pigott’s inclusive classroom includes students with disabilities and Voluntary Pre-K 4-year-olds. Her warm smile and calm, soothing voice make her students feel welcome, safe, and loved.”
Patricia Larsen was chosen from Transportation to be a March Employee of the Month. She was awarded at the April 16 School Board Meeting due to a March School Board Meeting conflict.
Larsen is in her 7th year as a van driver for children with special needs. She feels it is important to get to know their parents as well.
“I enjoy the children, their parents, my co-workers, and my supervisor Ms. Pat Jones. I’m very proud to be a part of the Wakulla County School System,” she says.
Larsen adds, “I sing with the children on the van and make funny faces. I never know who might see me and what they might think, but as long as the children are happy, I’ll keep on singing!”
Coordinator of Transportation Pat Jones says, “Mrs. Larsen is a delightful, reliable, energetic and dependable van driver. She shows great compassion for the special students she transports. When I talk with parents, their common remark is ‘Miss Patricia (as they call her) always shows love and concern for my child.’ ”
Adds Jones, “In addition to her dedication to the safety of her precious cargo, Mrs. Larsen is an employee who always reassures young and old with a pat on the back and a smile at just the right moment. We are very blessed to have employees like Mrs. Larsen with a compassionate spirit and a love for our Wakulla County students.”
Employee of the Month for April is Kathy Galloway from Facilities and Maintenance.
Since 1977, Galloway has worked for Wakulla schools as a substitute teacher, a one-on-one student assistant, a teacher’s assistant, and is now in her 26th year of working as the Administrative Secretary for the Director of Facilities and Maintenance of the entire school system.
A product of Wakulla schools, she attended Crawfordville High School for grades 1 through 9 and graduated from Wakulla High School attending grades 10 through 12.
“I began substituting when my children started school so I could still be at home when they were, as well as be involved with their activities at school. Then I was hired to be a one-on-one assistant for a blind kindergarten student, which was a wonderful experience,” says Galloway.
“This led to being asked to work one-on-one with a middle school student. After this, I worked in an Exceptional Student Education classroom and later moved to Crawfordville Elementary in the Emotionally Handicapped classroom. Next I was hired in my current position in Facilities and Maintenance.”
She loves her current job, citing, “There are so many different aspects, from the construction of a brand new school to ordering custodial supplies, dealing with emergencies such as HVAC issues, and all sorts of other repairs.”
Galloway adds, “I really enjoy working with the people in Maintenance, my foreman at each of the facilities, and Randy Bristol, Executive Director of Facilities and Maintenance. They make coming to work enjoyable.”
Says Bristol, “Kathy is a dedicated employee and an asset to the school system. I appreciate her commitment to this office and to the school system as a whole. I can always rely on her to be responsible for maintaining this office and taking care of our employees.”
“She is well-respected by her peers and everyone enjoys working with her. You won’t find anyone who can say a negative word about her because she sincerely loves our employees and our school system.”
April Employee of the Month from Food Service is Lucinda McClendon from Riversprings Middle School, where she is in her 5th year. Before that, she worked at Shadeville Elementary for two years, and for a petroleum company for 17 years before that.
After the petroleum office closed, McClendon was hired to work for Wakulla County Schools, and she says, “One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is the ladies I work with. We all get along and having a great time at work makes me want to show up every day.”
She adds, “The students also make my day. I might not be having the best day, but there is always a student who will make me smile.”
McClendon sees the RMS Food Service employees as a team and believes it’s important to get in the spirit of school activities. “We have dressed up for Spirit Week, Halloween, Christmas and all other major holidays. I have really enjoyed all the ideas we have come up with to be a part of the Riversprings team. We will even be celebrating Cinco de Mayo on the Cuatro (4th) de Mayo!”
She was nominated by Donna Pease, General Manager for Sodexo Food Services, which runs the Wakulla County School System Food Services Department. McClendon’s immediate supervisor, RMS Cafeteria Manager Ingrid Funderburke, had many positive comments to say about her.
“Lucinda, whom we call Rochelle, is an excellent worker and I am very fortunate to have her here at the RMS cafeteria since coming from Shadeville Elementary in 2013.”
Funderburke adds, “I not only consider her a great co-worker, but also a very good friend. She has a great personality and a huge heart, always willing to help anyone who needs her. I probably call her 10 to 20 times a day and even though she rolls her eyes jokingly at me, I know she will help when I call.”
“I am very glad she was chosen as Employee of the Month by Donna Pease because she really deserves it.”