Four employees were selected for the November 2013 recognition. They were honored at the Nov. 26 school board meeting. Pictured left to right are:
• Scott Counard, bus driver, transportation
• Eva Unger, principal, Hough Elementary School
• MaryJane Mellmer, teacher, Marshall Elementary School
• Rudi Lies, human resources/professional development specialist, human resources

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.

When bus driver Scott Counard is behind the wheel, getting kids to school safely isn’t the only priority; Scott also works to accelerate the enjoyment of riding a bus. Rather than chastise students who struggle with appropriate rider behavior, Scott engages them with fun games or meets with staff and parents to brainstorm solutions. As a reward for a successful week, he plays songs and lets students sing along. He even purchases prizes for Truman Elementary’s weekly Super Truman Bus Rider raffle and most afternoons stops in at the office with a friendly greeting for the staff. Scott is driving positive school culture at Truman.
Ask staff, students, and community members to define what makes a great principal, and they may offer differing opinions. But on one thing they can all agree: Hough Principal Eva Unger is it. She epitomizes dedication, care and respect. Eva has the rare ability to affect everyone around her in a positive way. Her can-do attitude and warm encouragement can inspire one’s belief that anything is possible—even transforming the Hough schoolyard into an outdoor learning space. Under Eva’s leadership, students and staff complete challenges with compassion, thoroughness, vitality and a sense of humor. The Hough community feels honored to have Eva as its guide.
Marshall teacher MaryJane Mellmer has developed and led a team of miracle workers who meet the needs of each student in the school’s Structured Communication Classroom. “We have not encountered many teachers who take the amount of pride and care in their jobs that MaryJane does,” said one nominator. Added another, “It’s humbling to watch her work with our kids. She has so much patience and love for each one.” She’s also mentored fellow teachers and helped organize the new SCC room. If you hear the words “above and beyond” spoken by someone at Marshall, don’t be surprised if they’re talking about MaryJane!
In the bustle of activity in the human resources office, Rudi Lies can always be counted on to assist with a wide range of tasks. Dedication, flexibility, accuracy and resourcefulness are this human resources specialist’s calling cards. Rudi has become a key person in the operation of Aesop and the Teacher/Principal Evaluation Project eVAL tool, as well as a force in the daily demands of juggling substitute teachers, administrative internships and the human resources front desk. And no matter how difficult the work, she always summons a smile and caring attitude. It’s no wonder that Rudi’s colleagues say they’re privileged to work with her.

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