October 22, 2018
Teachers of the Month and Employees of the Month for October, plus Employee of the Month from September, were honored at the Wakulla County School Board Meeting on October 22, 2018.
Selected by their peers, Teachers of the Month are Michele Lawhon from Medart Elementary School and Melissa Martin of Wakulla Middle School.
Employees are Lisa Stevens from Wakulla Education Center Pre-K and Karyn Crum of Wakulla Middle School. September’s Employee of the Month Heather Miller from Food Services was also honored.
Said Superintendent Bobby Pearce after they were awarded their plaques, “The dedication of these ladies chosen by their peers really influences others more than they know. There is a theme running through all of them that they have positive attitudes and a willingness to go the extra mile.”
Medart Elementary chose 5th grade teacher Michele Lawhon as their October Teacher of the Month. In her 25 years of teaching, she began at Shadeville Elementary for 2 years, then transferred to Medart where she has taught 2nd, 3rd and 5th grade.
She moved to Wakulla County as a middle schooler and attended Wakulla Middle School, then graduated from Wakulla High. Lawhon says her dream was to become a teacher, and she received the Chappie James Most Promising Teacher Scholarship which allowed her to earn degrees from TCC and FSU.
Lawhon notes, “I am blessed to be my students’ parent away from home. I do not take this responsibility lightly and hold it close to my heart. To know the whole child, to know their likes, their aspirations, and to know their concerns is worth every extra hour spent at school. My ultimate gift is when they return to visit me in future years. A graduation invitation has always been the icing on the cake.”
The past 25 years have taught her unique ways to reach the unreachable. She explains, “For an autistic child, we learned about his favorite topic: trains. For another child, I was able to help him make origami after completing his work.” And there are many more examples of Lawhon’s ability to think outside the box to motivate her students.
Involved in many aspects of school life, she is the MES Wellness Coach, Spelling Bee pronouncer, Sunshine Club member, and District Calendar Committee representative. Lawhon has been known to have push up contests with students for PE, Accelerated Reader contests, and has even dressed up as Medart’s Maverick the Mustang to dance at pep rallies.
MES Principal Stan Ward says, “I like to think of Mrs. Lawhon as the Positivity Police on our campus. She is always spreading positive vibes to students, visitors, colleagues, and administrators. She never backs down from a challenge and is always up for a competition. I appreciate all she does to help create a positive atmosphere at our school.”
In her 12th year as an educator, 8th grade Wakulla Middle School teacher Melissa Martin started in Wakulla County as a paraprofessional for a year at Crawfordville Elementary and 3 years at Riversink Elementary while she earned a second college degree after earning a paralegal degree for her first profession. She now holds a bachelor’s degree in Education from Flagler College, and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the American College of Education.
Martin taught at Riversink Elementary for 6 years before transferring to WMS last school year.
The switch to become a teacher proved to be exactly what she wanted. “I love seeing my students get excited about learning. When they walk into my classroom and see the word ‘lab’ on our agenda, they start smiling and telling everyone as they enter ‘We’re doing a lab today.’ It warms my heart to see their motivation to participate and learn.”
Martin has had numerous involvements with NASA in order to teach science better, such as entering a winning proposal for NASA’s Microgravity University for Educators 2018 Challenge along with colleague Katrina Roddenberry and 99 WMS science students. Martin, Roddenberry and four WMS students got to try out their design at the real NASA Center in Houston, Texas in March of 2018.
“I really enjoy teaching students about space,” Martin says. “At the beginning of a recent lesson on gravity, I shared some of my personal experiences with NASA. One student said to me, ‘You sure love science, Mrs. Martin.’ Another turned to a friend and said ‘We should become teachers!’ “
Martin is also the WMS Odyssey of the Mind assistant coach, coach for the WMS Wellness Committee, and a WMS Cross Country/Track coach.
WMS Principal Tolar Griffin says, “Mrs. Martin has been a great addition to our Wildcat family. Teaming with her 8th grade partner Mrs. Roddenberry, they have brought many new and exciting experiences to our WMS students, including a safe viewing of the eclipse and leading students in designing and testing a module at NASA Space Center. She also is an enthusiastic supporter of our running sports. In every situation, she truly cares for her students and goes out of her way to be a positive influence in their lives.”
Lisa Stevens was chosen as October Employee of the Month by the Wakulla Education Center Pre-K staff. In 2008, she began as a substitute teacher for one year, then was hired as a paraprofessional at WEC where she is in her 10th year. She says, “I came to work in Wakulla County Schools because I loved volunteering when my oldest child started Readimobile with Mrs. Rene’.”
Stevens is actually working at the same site where she attended elementary school when Shadeville Elementary was located at WEC. She then attended Wakulla Middle School and graduated from Wakulla High School.
She says, “I enjoy working with all of our Pre-K friends, both students and co-workers. I love seeing smiles on the students’ faces every single day and getting hugs from them too. I love seeing how they come to school full of enthusiasm and seeing their excitement when they learn something new.”
Involving her husband with Pre-K events, she notes, “My husband used to bring his Monster Truck to Family Fun Day each year. All the children would be so excited to get inside and have their pictures taken. This year we are bringing a race car and I can’t wait to see their reactions!”
Stevens has been a committee member for the Blessings in a Backpack program, and is currently chairman of the Pre-K Graduation events. She is also a committee member for Family Fun Day, Project Learning Tree, and the Wakulla County Schools Celebration of the Arts.
WEC Principal Laura Kelley notes, “Ms. Lisa has worked in a variety of classrooms, from the smallest self-contained with the most severe special needs children to a standard size Exceptional Student Education classroom to her current placement in an inclusion classroom of VPK (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten) and ESE students. This year she is serving as a peer mentor to several new paraprofessionals. Her kindness towards others and willingness to volunteer for additional responsibilities with a positive attitude make her well-respected by her peers.”
Karen Crum was selected by Wakulla Middle School as October Employee of the Month in her second year as the WMS Data Entry and Attendance Clerk. In prior years, she had worked as a Wakulla County Schools bus driver and as a WMS paraprofessional.
She says, “I enjoy working with students and my wonderful work family. I can truly say that I never mind getting up to go to work or staying a little late. Every day is a new adventure and I am always learning.”
Crum has been so positively influenced by the academic atmosphere at WHS that she earned an AA degree from TCC and is currently enrolled at Western Governors University to continue her education. “I did not think this was something I could achieve at my age and I do not think that I would have followed through had it not been for working at WMS and having educators like Catherine Cutchen telling me that she believed in me.”
Notes WMS Principal Tolar Griffin, “Ms. Crum does an outstanding job. Being responsible for inputting student data, schedules, and attendance is as job that requires attention to detail. She excels in this role. Ms. Crum learns new systems quickly and is easily able to obtain the reports we need. She also brings a positive attitude to her work, creating great relationships with students, parents, staff and community members. A hard worker, she is always eager to take on any task.”
Heather Miller from Wakulla County Schools Food Services was selected as the September Employee of the Month and was awarded at the October School Board meeting due to a conflict last month. Miller is the Food Services Manager at Shadeville Elementary School.
In 2004, Miller was working at Subway. She became friends with Teresa Harden, the Food Services Manager at Medart Elementary, because Harden would stop by every Friday to get subs and they would chat. “One day, we started talking about our jobs. I was telling her I had been there for 10 years and I was tired of making subs. She said that WCSB was hiring and to go put my application in and to use her as a reference. That was in May and I was hired in August, 2004,” says Miller.
From 2004 to 2014, Miller was a food service employee at Wakulla Middle School and then at Medart Elementary. Then she was named Food Service Manager at Riversink Elementary in February, 2014 and moved to Shadeville as Food Service Manager in July of 2018. “Getting the manager’s position in 2014 was an exciting moment in my career. It made me feel like someone noticed the hard work I do every day,” says Miller.
About her current job she adds, “I just like coming to work seeing the kids and knowing that I can brighten their day with a hot breakfast and lunch because these are the only hot meals they might get.”
Miller’s supervisor Lisa McCloudy, General Manager of Wakulla County Schools Sodexo Food Services, says, “Ms. Miller is dedicated to her job and to her team. She has excellent customer service when it comes to feeding the children of Wakulla County. She is an extraordinary woman with a great personality and a positive attitude towards others.”