Aiming to help students is what is appreciated by school patrons and co-workers for the two 2015 Jordan Education Foundation’s Outstanding Classified Employees who work in South Jordan.
South Jordan Elementary’s nutrition manager, Angela Allen, and Jordan Ridge Elementary’s school administrative assistant, Traci Mariano, both were honored May 26 with a wooden plaque and $1,000. Joining them were Jordan School District facility safety specialist William (Mark) Raines, Herriman High School nutrition manager Jodie Bowles and bus driver Lydia Hart.
The awards, made possible by the Jordan Education Foundation as a result of fundraising efforts by members of the board of directors, are evaluated on professional accomplishments, professional expertise and initiative, significant contributions to school or Jordan School District and qualities that set employees apart from others.
“We accept nominations from each school or district department, meaning that we can review up to 60 nominations,” Jordan Education Foundation Director Steve Hall said. “We know that so many of our employees are great, but we know that these people have demonstrated above and beyond what they’re expected to do. These employees don’t often get the recognition they deserve and they’d all probably just appreciate a pat on the back, but what a neat thing it is to show appreciation for their dedication and hard work.”
Allen’s recommendation by South Jordan Elementary Principal Ken Westwood was supported by others, with various comments, including: she prepared special meals during religious holidays, provided students with lunches on field trips even if they didn’t pre-order, helped new students learn how to punch in their lunch number, or simply turned someone’s hard day into a better one with a cheerful offer of a warm cinnamon roll.
“I never realized just how positive Angela’s impact on our school has been until I invited members of our school community to comment,” Westwood said. “The qualities referenced again and again in dozens of responses have been professionalism and service with a smile.”
Allen learned in a roundabout way that she was the recipient of the award.
“I didn’t know that I was even nominated,” Allen said. “The principal came into the cafeteria when the custodian was there and said how he messed up on the school sign outside and for us to all to go outside and see what the sign said. I thought it was a little strange, but we went and then I read where it said that I was an outstanding employee and it still didn’t sink in until everyone was congratulating me.”
Allen also didn’t realize that Westwood consulted with several of her co-workers and had them write recommendations for her to receive the award.
“I was there every day and asked, ‘When did you do this?’ I was told it was when I was in the cooler. It was all very surprising,” she said.
Allen, who has worked at Foothills Elementary, South Hills Middle School and as a district sub-manager overseeing other schools, said she was excited to return to an elementary school. This is her second year at South Jordan Elementary.
“I want to feel connected to a school and get to know the kids better. I like schools and the environment where I get to see them grow and learn. I do this job because I love it, and Ken is very appreciative of the people he works with and pays attention to those who work hard and help others,” she said.
In Mariano’s nomination from Jordan Ridge Principal Catherine Anderson and Assistant Principal Tiffany Cooke, it states, “Traci Mariano is an amazing secretary who sets the tone for our entire school. The first thing you see when you walk into the school is her happy, positive, helpful attitude.”
Her professionalism and positivity were highlighted by those who work with her. One teacher said, “One of the things that I love about Traci is that she never gets mad or frustrated when you ask her a question or have to interrupt her to find out something. I know she must get hundreds of interruptions each day while she is trying to get her own work done, and yet she never gets flustered or upset.”
Mariano also has taken it upon herself to advance in learning more computer technology, taking classes on her own time that are not required in her duties. She has learned skills on both a PC and a Mac, so she’s familiar with both platforms.
“In addition to learning new skills from these classes, Traci wants to share her knowledge with others in the school. She has become the informal expert on computers and technology in the school,” her nomination said.
Mariano, who wrote the Jordan Education Foundation Board, told them she was “humbled, honored and grateful” to have been selected as an honoree.
She thanked her principal and assistant principal, Jordan Ridge staff and the students.
“Without them, there would be no point to what I do,” she said. “They deserve my very best effort every day.”
Mariano summed up what many award recipients say: “Like many others, I always do my best and expect nothing in return, albeit, your thoughtfulness means so very much to me.”
Both the president of Jordan Education Foundation, David Jenkins, and president-elect, Mike Haynes, are South Jordan residents. The chairman of the Jordan Education Foundation classified employee awards committee is Jordan Federal Credit Union president Jim Hofeling.