Posted: Monday, March 27, 2023

Ten outstanding GCS employees have been selected for recognition in the Employee Spotlight Program. The Employee Spotlight Program honors staff members who have made significant workplace contributions or accomplishments at Greenville County Schools. Recipients were nominated by fellow GCS employees, who provided information about the employee and his or her work ethic. Each honoree will receive an award and a Cinnamon Roll and Coffee Celebration for the recipient and his or her entire school or department. This program is sponsored by Greenville Federal Credit Union.

Andrew Baker - Assistant Principal - Berea Middle School

Dependable is a word that describes Andrew Baker’s character and professionalism as the Assistant Principal of Berea Middle. He is a team member who supports and encourages both students and educators. He has an open-door policy and provides opportunities for all individuals to come to him for guidance and/or advice. Andrew intentionally reflects on situations that arise in order to help trouble-shoot and provide effective solutions to problems. As an administrator, Andrew holds students accountable for their actions while continuing to be their biggest advocate to work to their full potential.

Andrew Baker

Elaine Currin - Cafeteria Staff - Berea Elementary School

Elaine Currin’s smile and enthusiasm create a positive culture in the cafeteria. She is kind, friendly, professional, and seeks to serve others in any way she can. Elaine intentionally assists students who speak other languages by helping them to learn the English names of foods they choose in the food line. She is a wonderful example to both students and staff to model kindness and positivity with her words and actions. Berea Elementary all agree they are blessed to have her as a teammate!

Elaine Currin

Stephani Ecklund - Special Education Teacher - Bryson Middle School

Bryson Middle is lucky to have Stephani Ecklund support both students and teachers. She sets the bar high for her students, and they reach their goals knowing they have her support. Stephani is an advocate for her students but also teaches them how to advocate for themselves. Classroom teachers eagerly request her to be a co-teacher in their classroom which, in turn, has developed into rich partnerships with her colleagues. Stephani intentionally nurtures the relationships between the elementary schools that feed into Bryson Middle creating open lines of communication to ensure success for students begins before they transition to middle school.

Setphani Ecklund

Jay (John) Grady - Assistant Principal - Blue Ridge Middle School

Jay Grady is a dedicated leader who has unwavering support for the teachers he supervises and the students under his supervision. He is honest, trustworthy, and straightforward. Throughout the day at Blue Ridge Middle, Jay finds opportunities to serve others. Whether he is coaching a teacher or counseling a student, he has the best interest of students in mind. When the day has ended, his door does not close; Jay is always available to support students and teachers before, during, and outside of school. He supports and encourages teachers to work hard and believes in the education profession which, in turn, produces successful students.

Jay (John) Grady

Kim Kelley - FANS Manager - Heritage Elementary School

Heritage Elementary is fortunate to have Kim Kelly, a 25-year employee, as its Cafeteria Manager. Managing the cafeteria is not a job for her but a passion. Although she has worked for Greenville County Schools for many years, she is just as eager to learn new tasks and skills as she was on her first day. She takes time to make students and staff feel important and loved through her smile and kindness. Kim is a dedicated and loyal employee who gives 100% each day, not because it is expected, but because she loves her job and serving others.

Kim Kelley

Kiara Lewis – School Counselor; Bryson Middle

As a School Counselor, Kiara Lewis is dedicated to the students and staff at Bryson Middle. She has created an environment that makes all individuals feel included and important. Kiara makes a point to introduce herself to new students and staff so everyone feels welcome. She looks for strategies to improve the counseling program by asking for feedback from teachers to be sure she is implementing best counseling practices for all students. This year, she organized the first Fall for Bryson family fun night where families were invited to spend time at Bryson Middle with the staff and school community. Kiara is dedicated to making Bryson Middle the best it can be.

Kiara Lewis

Sarah Poole – Instructional Coach; Lake Forest Elementary

As an Instructional Coach, Sarah Poole is committed to the academic success at Lake Forest Elementary. She provides teachers with a variety of resources, assists with unit planning, models lessons, and co-teaches alongside classroom teachers. Because of her deep understanding of state standards and curriculum requirements, teachers have grown in their professional knowledge and execution. Sarah’s ongoing dialogue with educators about how to interpret data and promote student growth and success has helped Lake Forest become more data driven. She played a critical role in helping Lake Forest earn an Excellent Report Card rating.

Sarah Poole

Danilo Ruiz – Special Education Assistant; League Academy

League Academy benefits from having Danilo Ruiz as an employee. He is patient, kind, understanding and friendly and most of all, he has a big heart. Danilo has held a variety of positions in Greenville County Schools before securing his dream job in 2021 as a Special Education Assistant. He enjoys spending extra time with his students to ensure they understand what they are learning, wanting every student in his classroom to be successful. In addition to his classroom role, Danilo wears many hats including working in the Extended Day Program and assisting with building services during the summer. In every role, his heart is focused on making an impact on students.

Danilo Ruiz

Ulysses S. G. Sweeney, IV – Transition Specialist; Sullivan Center

As the Transition Specialist at the Sullivan Center, Ulysses Sweeney works as an advocate for students, motivating them to work hard in school. He meets with school representatives to ensure a smooth transition for students returning to their home school from the Alternative Program. Ulysses schedules meetings between parents, staff, and students so everyone understands the procedures and processes that best benefit the student. Not only does he serve his students well but is always willing to lend a helping hand to his colleagues. He is a valuable team member at the Sullivan Center.

Ulysses S. G. Sweeney, IV

Paula Valencia – Parent and Family Engagement Coordinator; Duncan Chapel Elementary

According to her peers, Paula Valencia is one of the highly regarded team members at Duncan Chapel Elementary. She creates partnerships with teachers, parents and students to ensure the success of all students. This year, Paula implemented Parent University, which is a resource for families to help them learn expectations for students, educate them on how to access district resources, and assist them with creating goals for their students. As a native Spanish speaker, she is a trusted adult for students, a resource for teachers and a point of contact for families. Paula is a valuable connection for the Spanish community at Duncan Chapel Elementary.

Paula Valencia

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