Spring ‘Excellence’ award winners named

Melissa Nixon, left, and Edie Archer were honored with Excellence in Service awards at the March 11 Board of Education meeting.

Melissa Nixon, left, and Edie Archer were honored with Excellence in Service awards at the March 11 Board of Education meeting.

Two school employees and two volunteers were honored by the Jackson County Board of Education with Excellence in Service awards in March and April.

Melissa Nixon, who works with family engagement at South Jackson Elementary School, was honored March 11 for her willingness to “immediately take action to find and/or support those in need.”

Her nominator pointed out that Mrs.Nixon noticed that many SJES grandparents are raising grandchildren and needed support navigating the requirements of school in the 21st century. 

“She created a grandparents support group that meets regularly to discuss topics of interest,” the nominator wrote.

Mrs. Nixon also coordinates school events designed to involve SJES families. 

Edie Archer, receptionist and secretary at North Jackson Elementary School, also was honored at the March BOE meeting, which was held at West Jackson Elementary School.

Her nominator listed some of the many roles she fills: “secretary, receptionist, greeter, private investigator, and student spoiler.”

In any given morning, “this lady can answer the phone, answer the door, accept medicine from parents, take care of sick students, answer parents’ questions and make sure they fill out tardy slip, listen to bus radio and make sure there aren’t any problems with our students, and help parents who want to register their children — sometimes all at the same time, and all while being calm, cool, and collected.

“After the bell rings, she is checking attendance, calling parents to check on absent students, and logging information into Infinite Campus. She does the bus schedule, makes copies for teachers, sorts mail, checks in visitors, sends attendance letters, and continues doing her daily duties.  

“Most of all keeps us safe by identifying who can be on our campus and who can not be here. She even knows what vehicle most parents drive.”

Mrs. Archer makes time to listen to students read their first book and lets them know how proud she is of their accomplishment “with either a song, a dance, or a treat — and sometimes all three!”

At the April 15 BOE meeting, held at North Jackson Elementary School, two individuals who have left their marks as volunteers were recognized.

Excellence in Service awards went to parent volunteers Mark Kuczka and Aimee Souto at the April 15 meeting of the Board of Education.

Excellence in Service awards went to parent volunteers Mark Kuczka and Aimee Souto at the April 15 meeting of the Board of Education.

Aimee Souto “wears many hats” at West Jackson Middle School, according to her nominator. “She is a mentor. She serves as one of our Partners in Education (through Pinnacle Bank in Braselton). She is a consistent volunteer for various activities, and is a member of our Parent Advisory Council. She goes above and beyond to make sure the students at West Jackson Middle School are safe and loved.” 

The nominator continued, “Her nickname is ‘the shoe lady’ because whenever we have a student in need of shoes, she immediately volunteers to purchase them – and these are NICE shoes. In addition, she purchases other clothing our kids need.” 

Souto’s work with the Braselton Rotary Club, of which she is a member and former officer, to provide an AED machine for the field house also was cited. 

“She does all of this with a smile on her face, and we love to see her walk in our front door.”

Mark Kuczka, a parent volunteer at West Jackson Elementary School, was honored for stepping up to help meet a challenge several months ago.

“At the beginning of the school year, when things were a little harried and a bit crazy in the car-rider line, Mr. Mark, as we all know him, called – not to complain, but to say, ‘I can help.’ (Now) he volunteers every morning in our car rider line.

“I have watched him open car doors in the unbearable heat, pouring down rain, and the extreme cold. He is there greeting parents and students with a warm, ‘Good morning,’ or, ‘How are you doing today?’ and, ‘I hope you have a great day.’

The nominator noticed that Mr. Kuczka “has even picked up trash that has fallen out of a car and put it in his pocket to dispose of later.”

And, the nominator pointed out, “Mr. Mark isn’t a stay-at-home dad – he leaves us and begins his day at work. His presence has helped to make our car-rider line go faster, which is always a good thing for parents who are trying to get to work and students who are getting their day started.”

The nominator concluded, “I just want to thank you, Mr. Mark, for your selfless giving to our WJES students, staff, and community.”

All four of the nominators chose to remain anonymous, an option provided on the form submitted to suggest someone for the awards, which were presented by Dr. Selena Blankenship, JCSS human resources director. 

Honorees are chosen by a committee of personnel from across the district, and Dr. Blankenship said anyone can submit a nomination.

The award is intended to highlight the “unsung heroes who serve the students and staff of the school system,” often without recognition of any kind, Dr. Blankenship said. School system employees, volunteers, or community partners will be considered “for going above and beyond in service to our school community,” she said.

The nomination form is available online at http://bit.ly/JCSS_18Excellence. Nominators must provide their names and email addresses for verification purposes, but they may choose to remain anonymous when the winners are announced.

Nominations should range from 150-300 words and should be submitted by the 25th of each month. The award is presented monthly, and nominations remain active during the school year in which they were submitted.