Shelby County Schools honors 2020-2021 support personnel

By WILLIAM MARLOW | Special to the Reporter

HELENA – The Shelby County Board of Education presented the 2020-2021 Educational Support Personnel awards on Thursday, May 20, honoring members of the district’s support team.

The ceremony was held at Helena High School, and the awards were presented by Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks. This year’s winners were specifically praised for helping the school district overcome one of the most challenging school years on record due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“The 2020-2021 school year has certainly been a year full of challenges, but also a year full of opportunities to serve our students,” Brooks said. “Tonight, we honor support personnel winners from various job categories, who have all risen to the occasion so that our students could have as normal of a school year as possible.”

Eight faculty members were honored from Shelby County Schools, including a new Nursing Services category, which was created specifically in response to the pandemic.

This past year, 13 school nurses in total were honored throughout the school district for their part in mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Because of that fact, the Board created a special category this year just for nursing services.

Beth Stone, the school nurse for Oak Mountain Middle School, was the overall category winner for the Nursing Services award, and was also honored the award of Educational Support Person of the Year.

This moment is especially significant for Stone, who after working with the school district for 20 years, will retire at the end of this year’s academic term.

Stone said she was honored, and that she particularly enjoys helping meet students’ needs and keeping them healthy. Throughout her 20 years of service, Stone said she has often become friends with members of entire families as they pass through her office in the course of their education.

“I have been lucky enough to meet the oldest child to have come through, then you get the next one, and sometimes I have even gotten a third or fourth child. So I feel like I know the entire family,” she said.

During the March 25 tornadoes earlier this year, Stone was temporarily transferred to Oak Mountain High School after the middle school was severely damaged during the storms. During that time, she was able to catch up with several of her former students.

The judges for the award also appreciated Stone’s personal touch and noted her work ethic during the pandemic. Stone was instrumental in Oak Mountain’s response to the coronavirus and had frequently remained at work well after hours to help contact parents of students who needed to be quarantined or who had tested positive for the virus.

The school board estimates that Stone’s workload increased by 50 percent over the past year.

“Despite all of this, she never lost her positive attitude and just kept diligently working and continuing to do her duty,” said Cindy Warner, the public relations and community education supervisor for Shelby County Schools.

In addition to Stone, the district also honored seven other category winners, which included the following:

  • Misty Lewter – Bookkeeper, Wilsonville Elementary –  Accounting Category
  • Samantha Bailey – Child Nutrition Program Manager, Calera Elementary
  • Bradley Rhodes – Custodian – Calera Elementary School – Food Services Category
  • Brad Manley– Instructional Aide, Linda Nolen Learning Center – Instructional Category
  • Walter Rowser – Maintenance Technician, Inverness Elementary – Maintenance Category
  • Chris Wilson– Bus Driver, Calera Intermediate – Transportation Category
  • Tonya Vick – Secretary, Career Technical Educational Center – Secretarial

The school board also honored Josh Bennefield from Montevallo Elementary School and Courtney Albritton Borden from the Linda Nolen Learning Center as the school district’s New Teachers of the Year.