December 2013 Excellence Awards

Four employees were selected for the December 2013 recognition. They were honored at the Dec. 10 school board meeting. Pictured left to right are:
• Jeff McCoy, custodian, Felida Elementary School
• Erica Nicewonger, teacher, Back on Track Program
• Jeannie Meyer, counselor, Thomas Jefferson Middle School
• Steve Zimmerman, psychologist/counselor, Harney Elementary School

The Excellence Award is given to two to four employees or small teams each month during the school year. Nominations are open to staff, students, parents and community members. Nominees are selected for recognition by a committee of their peers.

If you hear music in the halls of Felida after school, it can mean only one thing: night custodian Jeff McCoy is on duty! While beautifying the building, Jeff whistles popular tunes, greets staff members and inquires about their day. His sunny disposition has earned him a following. Said a nominator, “He is one of the hardest-working people I have ever met and is constantly exceeding his required duties. I am constantly struck by his generosity, willingness to help and incredibly positive attitude. I find that whenever Jeff’s name is mentioned around the school, everyone smiles.”
Teacher, counselor, mentor—Erica Nicewonger is all these things and more for Back on Track students, who have just one more chance to return to traditional classrooms. Not only does she supervise them as they work toward earning credits, she also addresses social issues and teaches them anger management skills. Erica even works with their families, many of whom are dealing with difficult personal situations. Last year, she watched a Back on Track student graduate from high school, something that may have once seemed impossible. Erica is inspiring students to believe that they can accomplish their goals.
Helping students be successful is one of Thomas Jefferson counselor Jeannie Meyer’s myriad talents. Somewhere in-between her many other duties, Jeannie found time this fall to ease the middle school transition for one student and parent. “Jeannie did much more than I would have expected,” the parent wrote. “She met with me one on one, met with my student and spent time checking in on several occasions through the first week. She emailed teachers with compliments about my child and was full of enthusiasm for learning. I cannot express how thankful I am. Jeannie is amazing!”
“Job description” is a relative term when there’s an opportunity for school psychologist Steve Zimmermann to improve something at Harney Elementary. Whether it’s running the student council, working with the recycling team or mentoring colleagues, Steve can be counted on. He also is the force behind the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports implementation and organized “behavior fairs” that teach students about expectations for conduct. As a member of the core team, Steve helps facilitate student action teams and coach teachers through academic and behavioral interventions. His colleagues say he is glue that holds the school together.

Congratulations to these staff members! They join the more than 250 VPS employees who have received Excellence Awards since 2007.