For Teresa Clayton, being named the Grandview Heights City School District's 2015-16 Win-Win Award honoree was a bonus

For Teresa Clayton, being named the Grandview Heights City School District's 2015-16 Win-Win Award honoree was a bonus

"The real reward is being able to live and work in such an incredible school district and community," Clayton said.

"We moved here about 20 years ago primarily because of the schools," she said. "To get to work here is a privilege."

Clayton, the high school's building secretary, was announced as the district's Win-Win Award recipient during the Aug. 15 staff convocation.

The award is given each year to a classified employee for his or her outstanding job performance.

"It was a total surprise," Clayton said. "I was so honored. It means a lot to be accepted by the staff and to not only work but live in a community where people recognize and support the schools as an important part of the community."

Students come first in Grandview, she said.

"Those aren't just words here," Clayton said.

It's the students who make her work special, she said.

"Absolutely -- the students always bring a smile to my face," Clayton said. "I look forward to every morning when they start coming in to school."

The staff in both the main and attendance offices strives to make the spaces welcoming to students, she said.

High school Principal Ken Chaffin "has been very supportive of making the office a warm place for them," Clayton said.

Throughout the day, students volunteer to serve as office workers and turn the room into a mini-study hall, she said.

"We try to create a calm, safe atmosphere where they can come in, have a cup of coffee and find a neutral zone from the day-to-day pressures of high school," she said.

Clayton started serving as a parent volunteer soon after moving to Grandview in 1997.

"Somehow I transitioned after a year or so to becoming a substitute teacher," she said.

She became building secretary at the high school three years ago.

The secretarial duties are only part of her job, Clayton said.

For students who need it, she tries to serve as a kind of surrogate mother, she said.

"I've known a lot of the students since they were in kindergarten," Clayton said. "I've watched them grow up. Sometimes, when they need a friendly face and they open up to you and you feel like you can help them bear a burden, it's the most fulfilling feeling."

Clayton "is an educator through and through," Chaffin said. "She is student-centered and has skills that extend far beyond her work as an administrative assistant."

Most of all, he said, Clayton's caring nature helps nurture students.

"We're really fortunate to have her as part of our team at the high school," Chaffin said.

The most difficult part of her job comes at the end of every school year, Clayton said.

"When the seniors come in to try on their cap and gown, it's an exciting time for them, but I'm already missing them," she said. "I hate to see them leave, but the nice thing is that there is another group of students coming in that I'll get to know."

afroman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekAfroman