Two members of Louisa County Public Schools’ staff were given special recognition during a dinner hosted by the school division at Tavern on the Green at Spring Creek on May 8.
Six teachers, one from each county school, were in the running for the prestigious William G. Thomas Educator of the Year Award. Seven classified staff members, one from each school and another from the central office, were contenders for the Chuck L. Tingler MVP of the Year Award.
In the end, Louisa County Middle School Teacher Doreen Kaiser was named the Educator of the Year, and Moss-Nuckols Elementary School Cafeteria Manager Cheryl Seay was honored as the MVP of the Year.
Educator of the Year, Doreen Kaiser
Kaiser has been teaching in Louisa schools for 26 years and is in her first year teaching the life skills class at the middle school. There, she and her two instructional assistants work to teach the students how to be independent.
Filling out a library card application, job application, making change, preparing meals, washing dishes, keeping up with weather conditions, calendars and planning are among the skills that the sixth through eighth grade students learn how to accomplish.
Kaiser’s eyes light up and her face beams when she talks about her kids and their innate kindness and desire to help classmates.
“They are a very close-knit group of kids,” she said.
Most of the class has been together since elementary school. Many of them got their start at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, and a few arrived from the other local elementary schools.
“So, they really know each other,” Kaiser said. “They’re kind of like brothers and sisters.”
Last week, the class was looking forward to an upcoming field trip to Charlottesville. Before they were dismissed at the end of the school day, Kaiser was filling out her daily reports to parents in various notebooks piled on her desk. A master of multi-tasking, she was able to finish the notes, keep an eye on what everyone was doing and remind various students about what they needed to do to prepare for the next day’s field trip.
Kaiser was hired by former Principal Lewis Stephens for a special education job at Louisa County High School in 1993. Her first classroom was in the original two-story high school building in what faculty termed the book closet. She initially taught six seventh-grade students.
MVP of the Year, Cheryl Seay
Seay has worked for Louisa County Public Schools for three decades, starting out as a cafeteria worker at the high school in 1989. In 1996, she was promoted to cafeteria manager at Trevilians Elementary School.
When Moss-Nuckols Elementary School opened nine years ago, she was transferred to that location to manage the cafeteria and its five-member staff.
Over the years, Seay has served thousands of children, too many to count, and they all refer to her as “Nana.”
The 2019 MVP of the Year said her most important goal is to feed students healthy, nutritious meals every day.
“We want to create a happy atmosphere to come in and enjoy their [meals],” she said. “To me, a big part of every morning is greeting the kids with a smile, a hug, whatever, to make them feel welcome.”
Seay is responsible for many details as cafeteria manager including ordering the food, handling immense volumes of paperwork and ensuring everything operates smoothly. In addition, she is often out on the floor helping fellow cafeteria workers.
“I like to chip in whenever I can,” she said. “We have a good team. I don’t ask the ladies to do anything I won’t do.”
Seay is modest about being chosen for the award and said that there are many other people who deserve it. She credits her staff for making it possible to get her job done each day.
Foremost in her mind when she arrives at work at about 5:45 a.m. each school day is the importance of feeding the kids.
“We don’t know what the kids go through day to day,” she said. “We don’t know what their life is at home.”
For some, she said, school breakfast and lunch may be the only meals the children eat on a regular basis. The cafeteria staff serves 600 meals per day—250 breakfasts and about 350 lunches.
(Article by Deana Meredith)
This is a partial article. Read the full story in The Central Virginian’s May 23, 2019 issue.