Congratulations to Our January Employees of the Month!

Each month, our partner school districts submit glowing reviews of our employees, from which we select four employees of the month. We’re pleased to recognize our honorees from January 2024!

Mary Branscum
Brookland Public Schools, AR

Mary Branscum was nominated nine times by colleagues from Brookland Elementary School who had such fantastic things to say about how wonderful she is to work with.

Chastity Son, Teacher, wrote: “Mrs. Branscum is trustworthy, reliable, and does a wonderful job stepping right into any classroom in our building to teach and care for our students just as we would do ourselves. We know that our students are in great hands when Ms. Branscum is with them. Our entire staff loves and trusts her.”

Allie Brooks, Technology Teacher, wrote: “Mrs. Branscum comes to work with a smile and a willing attitude. She is very flexible and always does a great job. We love her, and our students love her.”

Kristen Scarlett, Teacher, wrote: “Mrs. Branscum is phenomenal. I know when I have to be out, I don’t have to worry when she is in charge. She works with my kiddos, loves them, and ensures they are cared for and learning. I can leave my regular curriculum because I know it will be taught and done correctly. She is the hardest worker and such a joy to be around. I love it when she subs for my peers in my pod because I can interact with her throughout the day. She is amazing and absolutely deserving of this award and so much more!!! I hope when I am 82 years old, I am still active and working hard like her. She inspires me daily!”

Havilyn Baker, Teacher, wrote: “Mrs. Branscum has been a substitute in my classroom for many years. She has always been a top pick. She is on the ball and will do everything I leave for her. My students love her, and she has excellent classroom management skills.”

Melissa Duckett, Interventionist, wrote: “Mrs. Branscum is incredible. She is always willing to jump in and substitute teach anytime and is so good with the kids. You never have to worry about anything when she is subbing for you. We see her in this school practically every day. She’s basically a full-time substitute, and that in itself is commendable. We appreciate her so much!”

Rachell Elmore, Teacher, wrote: “Mrs. Branscum is an incredible, dependable substitute who loves the students. She is willing to take on any task left for her, whether it be small groups, assemblies, or the occasional field trip. She creates a stable environment for students. They know her expectations and behave to her standard. She deserves recognition for all the hard work she has put in for so many years.”

Paige Barnes, Teacher, wrote: “Mary has been with us for years! We see her as one of our own! She loves our babies like they are hers. She works hard when she is here to do her best for our classes. Mary has had to substitute on many party days, and she’s jumped right in and had fun with them. I wish we had more ‘Mrs. Branscums’ to request to substitute teach!”

Morgan Despain, Certified Lead Interventionist, wrote: “Mary is always willing to fill in for our teachers. She is even there when we are in a pinch. She is part of our Bearcat family, and we appreciate her willingness to fill in wherever she is needed. Our kids love her, and she has a loving heart for them.”

Kelsey Wallace, Teacher, wrote: “She is ALWAYS happy to substitute teach for me with a smile on her face! The kids love her. I was out unexpectedly before Christmas, and she threw my Christmas Party for me, and the kids loved it!”

Patricia Chambliss
Dayton Public Schools, OH

Patricia Chambliss was nominated by Gail Thalheimer, Secretary at David H. Ponitz Career Technology Center, who wrote: “Ms. Chambliss has subbed for Ponitz for many years. She is always willing to take an assignment unless she already has a scheduling conflict, and even then, she has tried to change her appointment to be here. Ms. Chambliss arrives on time with a smile on her face. She is always prepared and ready for the day, dressing appropriately, showing interest, and asking questions regarding the position when necessary. On occasion, she has taken long-term positions that greatly help us, and I know she will be here for the duration. When we are short-staffed, she has given up her planning period to accommodate the need, which is so appreciated. With gratitude, I say we are fortunate Ms. Chambliss has become part of the Ponitz Family! Thank you, Pat!”

Penny Parks-Dean
Carlisle Area School District,

Penny Parks-Dean was nominated four times this month by colleagues from the Carlisle Area School District Student Services office, who had such fantastic things to say about her work ethic.

Joshua Barr, Assistant Director of Student Services, wrote: “Penny always comes to work with the best possible attitude. She works hard and is detail-oriented! She continues to be flexible as we change procedures and duties.”

Kim Day, Student Services Secretary, wrote: “My nominee, Penny Parks-Dean, is exceptional in many ways!

Penny is a wonderful co-worker! She always has a positive attitude and is willing to help. She keeps track of all our special education documents, ensuring they have all the required signatures, and then prints those documents for the student’s files. She is excellent at organizing the entire Special Education Department with all the required paperwork.

Penny takes an interest in the special education students. She supports the special needs students in learning real-life skills by selling snacks through a school store overseen by their Special Education Teacher. She also recently participated in the Polar Plunge to support the Special Olympics.

In addition to the above, Penny is blazing trails for future part-time secretaries with ESS as it seems as though ESS is more accustomed to working with aides. There have been some logistical issues and Penny’s patience, kindness, and grace are always top notch!

As you can see, I feel that Penny is a very deserving person of Employee of the Month. She is a very exceptional employee who takes great pride in doing a great job!”

Brittany Sanchez, Assistant Director of Student Services, wrote: “Penny is a dedicated, hard-working employee who goes above and beyond to get her job done. She is a great communicator and always has a smile on her face. She brings joy and happiness to her colleagues every day.”

Heather Morris, Executive Secretary to the Director of Student Services, wrote: “I’m writing to nominate, Penny Parks-Dean for ESS Employee of the Month. Penny is a vital member of our Student Services office, making sure our district paperwork is complete and in tip-top shape with the proper documents, dates, and staff for all special education paperwork. Her attention to detail is key in making sure everything is completed properly.

Penny comes to work each day with a great attitude and works well with other staff in and outside of our department. From the moment she gets there to the moment she leaves, she puts her all into her tasks. She is also always the first to jump in when others may need help or a special task arises. She does her job and more without a complaint.

Penny is always looking for ways to help others, whether pitching in around the office or doing a fundraising bike ride for a needy family. She is amazing. She even plunged into a freezing cold local lake with some of our Unified Bocce team members to raise money for the Special Olympics in which some students participate. That is dedication!

Our office runs smoothly thanks to the contributions of Penny Parks-Dean and she deserves to be named an ESS Employee of the Month.”

Eric Verporter
Hamilton County Schools, TN

Eric Verporter was nominated by Amy Chapin, Secretary at Normal Park Museum Magnet, who wrote: “Eric is wonderful! He is our permanent substitute this year. Our students and staff love him! He goes above and beyond every day. When not assigned to a position, he takes the time to visit each classroom throughout the day to offer help! He always responds to needs on the walkie-talkie to help students without fail. He is rarely absent. He has even taken the time to learn how to use and change out the laminator (a task no one wants). He has also learned many office duties in my absence. Every morning, you can find him at the top of the stairs in the main hall, welcoming each student for the day. He has made a point of learning ALL students’ names. He always pops into the lunchroom to help or sit and chat with students. Eric is a true example who goes above and beyond every day!”

Congratulations and keep up the excellent work!