Christina school secretary honored

NEWARK — Alice Williams, a senior administrative secretary from Christina School District’s Jennie E. Smith Elementary School in Newark, is the first Delaware Educational Support Professional of the Year.
Twenty educational support professionals — one for each school district and the Delaware Charter School Network — were nominated this year. The award recognizes outstanding paraprofessionals, custodians, secretaries, nutritional staff and bus drivers and aides employed by schools or districts.
“It was here that I learned to look past the first impressions of each family and to attempt to remove the obstacles that prevent student success,” Ms. Williams said in a statement. “I have witnessed hidden and overt criticism of parents when students are unprepared for school or when the adults appear unsupportive. I quickly learned that hygiene issues can be the result of transient living situations, unavailable washers or dryers or non-working utilities.
“Parents or guardians may not be able to produce the necessary documents to register their child for school because they’re behind in paying the utility bills that are required to verify the address or have utilities in the name of another person due to past balance. A parent who uses public transportation will take hours to come pick up a sick child or may have to walk if they don’t have bus fare,” she added.
“My experience has helped me recognize the balancing act that parents have between their job and family responsibilities. Sending a parent away and asking them to come back to school with the required documents can force a choice between keeping their job or not registering their child for school.”
From those nominated at a building level, one educational support professional moves forward to represent each district or charter school community in the state program. Each district/charter network winner receives a $1,000 award.
The state program then chooses one person to serve as Delaware’s Educational Support Professional of the Year. State winners receive an additional $1,500 from the Department of Education, as well as $2,500 to be used for the educational benefit of his or her students.
A selection committee reviewed the local winners’ state applications to select the 2021 Delaware Educational Support Professional of the Year.