2nd Quarter Successories winners highlight the power of kindness

district mail courier, IT director, fifth grade teacher, school counselor and nurse
Presenting the 2nd Quarter Successories winners: From the left are Chris Smith, district mail courier and bus driver; Steve Gennett, director of information technology; Kelly Hanson, intermediate school teacher; Stephanie Hotaling, middle school counselor; and Lori Nellis, high school nurse.

Chris Smith wins the day off; Gift cards to be awarded to Steve Gennett, Kelly Hanson, Stephanie Hotaling and Lori Nellis

More than 30 nominations were submitted for the second quarter Successories awards. Most of them reflected the resounding theme of kindness. It’s something that’s so simple. You don’t need money, authority, a degree or special training – just a willingness to be someone’s person for a brief moment in time. Kindness goes such a long way, yet it is so often overlooked as a reason to recognize people.

B-P is proud to recognize all of the kind souls who make the school days brighter. People like Chris Smith, Stephen Gennett, Kelly Hanson, Stephanie Hotaling and Lori Nellis. People like Dorothea DiNicola – every year, she decorates paper bags that are filled with Christmas presents for the residents of Wilkinson Nursing Home. People like Kathy Kilmartin – she always stops to help a teacher who is carrying one too many bags into school. People like Michelle Giallonardo and Noel Ruggeri – they helped a substitute get her lesson plans and checked to make sure she was doing okay. You all have huge hearts!

Congratulations to all of this quarter’s winners and nominees! All nominees are entered into a drawing in June, and could be the grand prize winner of a $100 gift certificate.

Chris Smith: “If I can carry it, I’ll go get it for you”

district mail courierChris Smith of the B-P Transportation Department has been the district’s mail courier for 16 years. She was nominated as a Successory by a coworker who recognizes that Smith’s job is much more than shuttling mail between the post office and the district’s four schools.

“As mail courier, you go above and beyond every day,” the nomination says. “You don’t just shuttle mail between the post office and buildings, you do all the extra things to make our lives easier. You willingly volunteer to drop something off or pick something up for us. If you hear that a staff member is in need of anything in order to do their job, you just get it for them. You are very helpful and kind and we’re fortunate to have you.”

Smith says she loves her job, and her willingness to help people isn’t something she thinks about.

“I like to make people smile,” she said. “If you need something, and I can carry it, I’ll go get it for you.”

Smith is also well known for her cooking and baking. Her nomination made note of her willingness to share the goodies from her kitchen, such as Oreo cookie cake, cinnamon rolls and cookies.

Smith is a veteran bus driver for the district with 21 years of service under her belt. She has annually received a Safety Pin award for having never been in an accident with a school bus.

“I love working here,” she said. “The only time there is a problem is when the weather is bad, but we always get the kids to school safely.”

Steve Gennett (on behalf of TLC)

IT directorIf a B-P staff member is looking for district IT Director Steve Gennett, chances are, they’ve got a tech problem that only he can fix. So when he was sought out to share the news of his Successories win, his initial response was, “What’s wrong, and how can I help?”

That’s why it comes as no surprise that a co-worker at TLC chose to nominate Gennett for an act of generosity to help a student.

“Thank you for taking an interest in all students,” the nomination says. “Your giving nature to help a student’s day by going to the store and donating and providing them with some break activities and supplies was very generous. Seeing a student in need, you did not hesitate to show your true nature and character!”

Gennett says he was shocked when he got his nomination. His work is behind-the-scenes and he doesn’t do it for recognition. He says it was second nature to give back to a student in need, because he remembers what it was like to be one himself.

“I’ve been in that kid’s shoes, and I know what it’s like to wear the same clothes every week and not have the things that other kids might have,” he said. “What this school does best is know the kids who come here and know what they need to succeed. So when I get the chance, I don’t think twice about doing something to help.”

Kelly Hanson (IS)

fifth grade teacherKelly Hanson is a fifth grade teacher. She was nominated by a parent and colleague who recognizes Hanson’s ability to connect with and empower her students.

“Thank you for taking the time to tune into who our son is as a student and as a person!” the nomination says. “Aside from challenging him academically, you strive to make a connection with each and every one of your students and he is no exception. Whether you bond over a favorite author, joke about annoying younger siblings or share early morning doughnuts (in matching sweatshirts) you make certain that he feels loved, validated and heard while at school.”

Hanson said she distinctly remembers the teachers who worked so hard to make a connection with her son Ricky when he was young, and how it gave him the confidence to develop his strengths and interests. Ever since then, Hanson has made it a priority to make those connections with her own students.

“It’s the best thing ever to see a kid develop their confidence. That is what we live for,” Hanson said. “It’s ultimately about personal connections. I’m always looking for the students’ interests and the things that light them up. When you ask them questions, they come alive. And then, all of a sudden they trust you, because they know you care about them, and they’re willing to try things that they might have struggled with.”

Stephanie Hotaling (MS)

middle school counselorStephanie Hotaling is one of the middle school counselors. She was nominated by a coworker who believes that Hotaling’s dedication to her job and her collaboration skills ensure that B-P’s students have the supports they need to be successful.

“Stephanie goes above and beyond as a school counselor,” the nomination says. “She creates positive relationships with her students and with staff. She is always proactive instead of reactive when students have academic and emotional needs. Stephanie participates in numerous school activities and clubs, dedicating her professional and personal time ensuring that responsibilities are met. The relationship she has created with myself, as a special education teacher, is greatly appreciated and has contributed to much of the success of my 6th grade students. So thankful to have her by my side!”

Hotaling said it was validating to be recognized by a peer.

“When I read the nomination, it truly warmed my heart,” she said. “It made me realize how important collaboration is with my coworkers, especially teachers so that our students get everything they need to maximize their achievement.”

Lori Nellis (HS)

high school nurseAs the high school nurse, Nellis takes care of hundreds of high school students. She was nominated by one of them who was recently diagnosed with a serious medical condition. Lori has advocated on the student’s behalf in communicating with the student’s doctor, and has helped and supported the student’s mother.

“Thank you for always being there for me,” the nomination says. “She is always going above and beyond to help me through my days and to keep me safe. She’s my best friend. She always keeps on top of things…my mom would be lost without her as well…I wouldn’t be able to handle my new condition without her.”

Nellis said she was surprised by the nomination, but grateful.

“Instead of having just my four children, I have 460 kids,” she said. “I take care of them like their mine. I want them to do well and be successful, and if they don’t feel good, that won’t happen. I do everything I can to help them.”

Nellis didn’t think twice about calling the teen’s doctor when she noticed the prescribed care wasn’t working the way it should.

“The doctor was grateful to have that information so we could get the best treatment and provide total care,” Nellis said.