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Hopkins Foundation Recognizes Four School Employees

May 4, 2017 | District News Release

Spring 2017 Awards Give Out $8,000

BrandiMorris - CopyFour long-time employees of Emporia schools today received Hopkins Awards for excelling in their support of students. Hopkins Awards were presented this morning to:

  • Marsha Peterson, a teacher aide at Walnut Elementary

  • Brandi Morris, a teacher aide at W.A. White Elementary
  • Mary Rodriguez, secretary at Maynard Early Childhood Center
  • Kelly Olson, special education teacher at Riverside Elementary

Each of the four honorees received a $2,000 cash award from Michelle Hopkins-Molinaro, vice president and managing director of the foundation.

With today’s awards, the Hopkins Foundation has given nearly $700,000 to teachers and support KellyOlsonstaff members in the Emporia schools since the inception of the awards. The awards program was a dream of Molinaro’s grandfather, E.L. Hopkins, as a way to reward educators.

MarshaPetersonMarsha Peterson has been a teacher’s aide at Walnut for 20 years. Her nominations were filled with praise for her willingness to help anyone, anytime. “Marsha is Walnut’s biggest cheerleader and true supporter of the entire staff. She’s always there willing and ready to help anyone in need and we all know it!”

She fills in as “grandma” for students at school events, arrives early to have breakfast with students needing some extra attention, and always donates her time and talent to school projects. “She is one of those people who goes above and beyond on a daily basis,” one nominator wrote.

“Marsha takes time to learn student’s names and something special about each of our students. She is the ‘sunshine’ that keeps kids excited about school. My life is better and my teaching life is definitely better for having her in it.”

Brandi Morris is known at W.A. White Elementary as a dependable and positive team player. “Brandi is a terrific team player.  She works closely with any staff she comes into contact with.  She is a leader in the classroom, lunchroom, and playground,” a nominator wrote.

Co-workers describe her as dedicated to the students and teachers and an excellent role model for students.  “Students watch her work hard every day with a caring heart and a smile on her face.”

“Brandi has the patience of a saint and knows how to explain things to students so they understand. She is well respected by staff, students and parents. Not only within the walls of the school, but outside the school as well. She helps out through the community with foreign exchange students, in her church and missions.”

MaryRodriguezMary Rodriguez, secretary at Maynard Early Childhood Center, is described as a caring person who always has a smile on her face. “Mary has been an integral part of the Maynard Early Childhood Center for many years. She has been the secretary at that building for a long time serving USD253 and ECKAN as the secretary of the Head Start program for many years,” one nominator wrote.

She is a long-time Emporian who is well-known in the community. “Mary has such a warm and caring spirit. She truly cares about the families and children that she serves. She has a wonderful rapport with them and is well known and trusted throughout the Hispanic community and the community of Emporia as a whole.”

Maynard staff relies on her to help where ever she is needed.  “She is a hard worker. No matter what is thrown at her she will get it done. She is a person who is dedicated to her job. She is definitely a person worthy of this award.”

Kelly Olson is a life skills teacher at Riverside Elementary, where she has taught many years, serving students with multiple disabilities. She is known as a strong advocate for her students and as a school leader among her co-workers.

“Kelly wants her students to be included in any and all classroom experiences if possible. She works with classroom teachers to find ways that her students can be integrated with same-age peers,” a nominator wrote. “A result of having Kelly’s Kids in our school is that we have grown a culture of support and protection for these students. I know when they leave our school to go to the Middle School, Kelly’s Kids will have a whole support group of friends from Riverside that will look after them and be their friends.”

She is seen as a positive image for the school. “She is so very passionate about serving this special population of our school. It’s people like her that make Riverside an awesome place for our kids and families and staff.

Hopkins Award nominations can be submitted anytime during the year by parents, student and staff. An online nomination form is posted on the homepage of the district website, www.usd253.org. A selection committee meets to review nominations and select winners.  The recipients of the award are individuals who have gone above and beyond their normal job responsibilities. Winners exemplify one or more of these criteria:

  • Innovation/Initiative/Simplification that demonstrates leadership or participation in a project or process of improvement that aligns with the district mission and/or streamlines operations.
  • Collaboration as one team, school or district that demonstrates an outstanding commitment to teamwork by thinking creatively, removing internal boundaries and communicating effectively.
  • Noteworthy Service that is extraordinary and exceeds expectations.
  • Inspiring others to try new things or excel in new ways.
  • Commitment to excellence in any endeavor that enhances the workplace and creates a positive work environment and culture of learning.
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