Staff Spotlight: A Time for Hylton Staff to Shine!

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The Staff Spotlight award winners for Janurary 2022!

While most are glad to be back in the classroom, it’s been a hard year for many students and teachers alike in light of COVID-19. Especially for teachers, many are stressed beyond belief and rarely recognized or compensated for their extra time spent on grading, after-school tutoring, lesson planning, etc.

Hylton social studies teachers, Mrs. Terenchin and Mr. Gryder, implemented a system in order to recognize not only teachers but also various Hylton staff for their dedication to Hylton.

Officially named the “Staff Spotlight” award, it is a monthly award given to four hardworking and dedicated Hylton staff members. In which, each month staff members are nominated based solely on their accomplishments and merit to receive this award. If selected by a committee of Hylton staff, the award winners receive a certificate, an embroidered blanket, and various goodies recognizing them for their dedication to the Hylton community.

When asked what motivated them to initiate the Staff Spotlight award, this is what Mrs. Terenchin and Mr. Gryder had to say.

Mrs. Terenchin: “I think the past several years in education have just been really difficult for everyone involved…whether it’s because of going digital and then coming back from digital. And I was worried a bit about staff morale…[and I thought] maybe there was more that we could do to shine the spotlight on staff members. We used to recognize staff members about 3,4, or 5 years ago here, and I just wanted to make sure that we celebrated people again so the idea was to bring this back…and reaching and getting to all members who support students within this building so everyone who provides instructional support…but also cafeteria workers, maintenance and facility workers, front office staff, security…”

Mr. Gryder: “[Mrs. Terenchin] and I talked, and the thought that we could create some postivity [through this award] was a benefit…and it’s nice to be able to highlight people that go above and beyond to benefit the school and the things that happen here.”

Staff Spotlight Winners – January 2022

At the end of January, the first winners of the Staff Spotlight award were recognized. To further highlight these four winners, I asked them a couple of questions so we could get to know them more.

“What has made you stay at Hylton?”

Mr. Lewis: “I have been working at Hylton for 22 years…and the work and the kids [has made me stay at Hylton]…and watching [Hylton students] grow from 9th grade to 12th grade.”

Mr. Lewis – Custodial Manager

Mr. Singletary: “I have been working at Hylton since December 2019…and I have 15 years of security experience…and the people and the students [make me want to stay at Hylton]…Apart of my all-in-all is counseling, and being apart of a kid’s life.”

Ms. Ziemke: “I have been here for 21 years…I wanted a rural school so 21 years ago Hylton was considered a rural [school] and it was farmlands and there wasn’t much development so I picked Hylton…but what kept me here was my people…my students are fantastic! And the diversity is insanely great. I learn so much from my students…and we have a great science department.”

Madame Choi: “I have been teaching at Hylton for 16 or 17 years, and I lived in Switzerland [before Hylton]. And this is the first job where I applied when I came back to the States and they took me so ever since I started [teaching at Hylton], I didn’t want to change schools.

“What do you do outside of Hylton?”

Mr. Singletary – Security Staff Member

Mr. Lewis: “Outside of Hylton, I’m a Christian so I like going to church and being a mentor to teenagers. I like sports. I like football, basketball, baseball, and track. Also, I played football with Ron Rivera, the coach of the Redskins, and I ran track against Carl Lewis in 1976.”

Mr. Singletary: “My life outside of Hylton is me being a husband, father, grandfather…I’m just a family-oriented guy. I’m really laidback, and I like to workout, listen to music, and watch television.”

Ms. Ziemke: “I like to camp so I like to do a lot of camping in the summer. Mrs. Scronce [a retired Hylton chemistry teacher] and I go camping most summers…and I like to work on things and build things so I do home improvements.”

Madame Choi: “I really like to play golf. I used to be an avid golf player and I was quite good. Another thing is…when I was young, I wanted to be a concert pianist… so [now] I like to play the piano.”

“What was your initial reaction upon receiving the Staff Spotlight award?

Ms. Ziemke – Science Teacher

Mr. Lewis: “I guess I was kinda shocked because I didn’t know I was getting an award.”

Mr. Singletary: “Oh man, [it] was awesome man! The fact that people thought about what I do here, I was shocked by it and didn’t even know they had [the Staff Spotlight award]…And I appreciate it and I hope to live up to it and continue to get better at what I do.”

Ms. Ziemke: “Well, it was almost embarrassing…because I’m shy that way…but it was still nice to be recognized. Mr. Terenchin was the one who nominated me and he said some very nice things.”

Madame Choi: “I was more than surprised and grateful that they were thinking about me…It gave me some comfort as a teacher because I find this year very difficult to teach. It’s the toughest year that I ever had at Hylton so [the Staff Spotlight award] gave me some hope.”

“Do you think it’s worth appreciating staff members through these awards? Do you think Mrs.Terenchin and Mr. Gryder made the right decision?”

Mr. Lewis: “Yes, [they] made the right decision. It’s good to recognize people because it makes them want to enjoy work a little bit better. And work sometimes gets stressful so when you get awards and somebody recognizes you, it just makes you feel better.

Madame Choi – Foreign Languages Teacher

Mr. Singletary: “I think it’s awesome because students and everyone don’t get to see what we do as a whole.”

Ms. Ziemke: “I think it’s great to recognize teachers because most of us don’t get recognized. Rarely do we get a pat-on-the-back and get told ‘good job!’ from our bosses.”

Madame Choi: “I think so because it has been really tough on us. I don’t think it’s just me, all of us are more than tired, we are wiped out…and it’s discouraging sometimes so positive things [like the award] are always good.”

Final Remarks

Based on their responses, it is safe to say that the Staff Spotlight award has made an impact on these staff members. This is only the beginning as Mrs. Terenchin and Mr. Gryder are receiving many nominations for the Staff Spotlight award so there are more winners to come.

The next winners will be announced soon for the month of February and the Watchdog staff won’t miss out on highlighting them as well!