SCS honors UAB’s Jaye Locks with Journey Shaper award

By WILLIAM MARLOW | Special to the Reporter

Shelby County Schools Superintendent Lewis Brooks honored Jaye Locks, ambulatory services administrator for UAB Medicine, with the school district’s “Journey Shaper” award for her assistance in coordinating the district’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Locks helped inoculate 1,300 Shelby County Schools employees over the last month and a half, and was honored for her efforts during the school district’s April 15 Board of Education meeting.

Brooks said that Shelby County Schools’ partnership with Locks and UAB Medicine has resulted in a record-number of school district employee vaccinations.

“Mrs. Locks was the catalyst for helping the district to secure vaccinations for the large majority of school district employees. When finding a large clinic to service the district seemed virtually impossible, she found to provide this opportunity,” Brooks said. “Through her leadership, UAB provided over 1,300 inoculations for Shelby County Schools employees. I am grateful for what was provided and she has definitely helped to shape the journey for our school district.”

Locks said this mission had been very much a personal one for her. She lives in Shelby County, and her child attends Montevallo High School, a Shelby County School. In addition to assisting schools with vaccine distribution, Locks has also been helping inoculate the greater Shelby County area.

On April 11, she established a vaccine clinic at Montevallo High School to serve the county’s Hispanic community. This was a challenge according to Locks because many in the Hispanic community are apprehensive about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine over fears of deportation. With the help of MHS Principal Steve Bromley and ESL teacher Milene Panzica, Locks said she was able to ease concerns and educate community members on the vaccine process. Ultimately, UAB was able to administer vaccines to about 350 Hispanic community members.

“Our Latino community can sometimes be forgotten so we decided to take the vaccine to the people, and we were able to make a big difference in that community,” Locks said.

Locks previously served as an administrator for UAB Medicine’s Family Care and Medicine Services, and was appointed to oversee the company’s employee health department last year, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was sweeping across Alabama and the U.S.

Instead of just keeping patients well, Locks said she was suddenly tasked with trying to prevent illness, and that her department soon became the most integral part of UAB’s hospital system due to the pandemic. Locks said that the past year has been filled with challenges, but also tremendous hope.

“What I saw was our community came together in a way that was unprecedented,” she said.

Now with vaccines being distributed at a speedily rate across the state, Locks said she is even more confident of a return to normalcy soon. As of April 15, Locks said that zero UAB employees have tested positive for COVID-19.