PONCA CITY – The Ponca City Public School District is celebrating Education Support Professionals this week November 18-22, 2019. Established by the National Education Association (NEA) as American Education Week, Education Support Professionals Day is annually observed the Wednesday of that week, which is November 20 this year. This designated day honors the contributions of school support employees who provide invaluable services and are essential partners in student’s education process.
PCPS Superintendent Shelley Arrott explained, “We will be honoring our support professionals all over the district this week. Whether it is delivering mail to the sites, serving food to students, or driving a bus, our support employees get involved at every level. Without the dedication of these employees it would be impossible for our district to function on a daily basis. These professionals impact our students and support our teachers in many positive ways. They are very flexible and do whatever it takes to support the learning process.”
“Each site has planned a special week for their support staff,” continued Arrott. “These support professionals are an integral part of our school system and play a huge role in keeping our schools running smoothly and impacting the lives of our students. The district has 382 support employees, which includes administrative support, secretaries, teacher assistants, paraprofessionals, child nutrition workers, maintenance/custodians, transportation employees, crossing guards, lay coaches and more. This number does not include our non-certified substitutes. I would like to invite everyone to join me in showing these employees how much we value and appreciate them! It is a privilege to have these individuals as members of Team PCPS.”
Zach Murray, President of the Ponca City Association of Classroom Teachers, emailed the following message to all staff, “PCPS Family, this week is American Education Week. The Ponca City Association of Classroom Teachers would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our Education Support Professionals. We couldn’t do our jobs without you. You feed our students, keep our rooms and buildings clean, know how to fill out all the paperwork, drive students where they need to be, and more. Thank you so much for all you do for our students and our district.”
Ponca City School teacher assistants and para-professionals assist teachers in the classroom, help in the main office, tutor students and do whatever else is needed. School secretaries are the backbone of the schools taking care of teachers and principals as well as serving as mom away from home for students. They are responsible for state reporting, attendance records, administering medication, greeting the public, and much more on a daily basis.
The District has over one million square feet of buildings and grounds that must be maintained by district maintenance personnel. The maintenance department also has skilled craft employees who do electrical and plumbing work, build, paint and repair school furniture and buildings, repair heating and air conditioning units, install technology, and too many more things to mention. The district employs both day and night custodians who are responsible for opening the buildings each morning, keeping them clean, and in the winter seeing that the snow and ice are removed from sidewalks. In the summer, maintenance and custodial personnel are responsible for mowing, moving classroom furniture, stripping and waxing floors, shampooing carpets, painting and maintaining buildings and so much more to ensure schools are ready to start in August.
Ponca City Schools’ child nutrition program is one of the most progressive student lunch programs in the country as evidenced by earning state and national awards. Cafeteria personnel arrive early in the morning to prepare well-balanced, nutritious meals, serving over 5,000 breakfast and lunch meals per day.
Maintaining an excellent safety record, the transportation department drives over 200,000 miles per year carrying an average of 1700+ students daily. Transportation employees not only pick-up and deliver students to and from school, but they also make additional trips for special activities – all with the safety and well-being of the students uppermost in their minds. Full-time mechanics are employed to keep buses in safe operating condition.
Personnel in the Central Administration Building serve many different functions. With an annual budget of over $42 million, central office personnel stay busy taking care of the business of the district processing purchase orders, paying bills, encumbering funds, and handling activity funds, etc. With 750+ employees and over 100 substitutes employed, the district processes a large payroll, coordinates employee records, benefits and much more. They coordinate school activities and compile reports from all buildings to meet state and federal guidelines and are responsible for maintaining records that are audited by state and federal auditors annually.
Technology staff members are responsible for keeping thousands of district computers, laptops, iPads, Smartboards, and other technology equipment functioning as well as critical network infrastructure, student data bases, websites, mobile communications applications and much more.
It is easy to see why education support personnel are so valuable. Education Support Professionals Day was first celebrated in 1987, and the NEA designated this day as a time to strengthen support and respect for these colleagues. Over 25,000 support employees are working nation-wide as the helping hands in education.
Pictured top: Terry Dufner (custodian)
L-R: Joe Zuvanich (student information system specialist), Scott Layton (bus driver), Tara Fry (child nutrition assistant), Chris Adams (District Broadcast Engineer)