District Notebook: Grandview Heights Schools' convocation's differences do not deter its mission

ANDY CULP
Andy Culp

Even though the 2020-21 school year began in an unusual way, we are pleased to report that so far, the year is going well thanks to our wonderful staff and supportive families.

Each one of us is being asked to think differently, adjust quickly and do what it takes to make the most of this unusual time. Whether it is remote learning, a hybrid schedule or all-in-person or online classes, residents can be assured our staff is committed to our students' success.

Like most school districts across the country, Grandview Heights Schools traditionally begins each school year with a staff meeting or convocation. Convocation also is the time we celebrate our teachers and staff and the amazing work they do to fulfill our mission to maximize and personalize every student's learning. We believe It is important to celebrate and recognize those who affect our daily lives in positive ways.

Obviously, in the age of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic we could not gather together as we normally do. Instead, we videotaped our important messages and announcements and invited staff to a virtual meeting to view the video together.

I would like to share a few highlights from our 2020-21 convocation.

Congratulations to Grandview Heights High School Science Teacher Jo Lee who received the distinguished Teacher of the Year Award. GHHS Principal Robert Brown, in presenting the award, said Lee exemplifies the characteristics we all strive for and she is very deserving of this honor. She commits herself to providing opportunities for students. She is always available to help her students and consistently gives up most of her mornings and lunch periods throughout the year to do so.

Brown spoke for all of us when he said, "Thank you to Dr. Lee and all of our teachers for believing in our students and making sure they grow and progress no matter what."

Our support staff also celebrates an employee by bestowing the Win-Win Employee of the Year Award. This award is given to a classified employee who exemplifies these attributes: good communication skills, dedication and ongoing service, a positive and professional attitude, job enthusiasm and a willingness to go above and beyond expectations.

This year the group decided to not honor just one individual, but rather to honor each and every support staff member by presenting the award collectively to all support staff members for going above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In making the announcement, Grandview Heights Schools Educational Support Staff Association President Carrie O'Mara celebrated our custodians and maintenance staff who clean and sanitized the buildings, paraprofessionals who support students in person and virtually, cooks who prepare food for those in need and secretaries who not only got last spring's report cards out on time, but had things ready to start the 2020-21 school year on time.

The support staff enables teachers to teach and students to learn. As educators, we can't do our jobs without their hard work and support.

Convocation celebrates the beginning of a new school year and also provides the opportunity to celebrate long and fruitful careers.

Best wishes to our retirees Susan Falk (third-grade teacher), Carmen Mendoza (Spanish teacher) and Rebecca Krouse (paraprofessional). Thank you for your many years of service and dedication to the students and staff of Grandview Heights Schools. We wish you the best. While Grandview Heights Schools may have celebrated the beginning of the school year a little bit differently this year, the bond between our students, staff and community is stronger than ever due to the commitment of our board of education, administrators, teachers and staff members to serve every student every day.

Andy Culp is superintendent of Grandview Heights Schools.