Award Info & Nomination Link
The JC Schools Difference Maker Award is presented to district staff members and community partners who've gone above and beyond to serve our students, staff members and schools. Difference Makers are individuals, teams or groups who have made (or are making) a difference in our district. Nominate a Difference Maker here!
JC Schools will thank all Difference Makers nominated, and some, like those pictured below, will be recognized monthly at the JC Schools Board of Education meeting. We love to spotlight Difference Makers that are tied to each of our three organizational pillars: Learning, Partnerships and Stewardship.
Tornado Response: A Continued Culmination Learning, Partnerships & Stewardship
JULY DIFFERENCE MAKERS: THORPE GORDON ELEMENTARY STAFF
We have so much to be proud of when it comes to Jefferson City and our wonderful school district! We are Stronger Together and the days following the May 22nd tornado had so any stories and examples of people working together to help tornado victims.
One group that we would like to honor as Difference Makers is the staff of Thorpe Gordon Elementary. This staff and their leader (Principal, Chris Schmitz) went above and beyond following the tornado. The path of this tornado ripped apart so many of their families homes and apartments. Stories have been shared of how almost immediately following the tornado, Thorpe Gordon teachers were texting and calling their students families to make sure they were alright. After all, these were their babies- their students- their families- it was just hours before that these students had said their last-day-of-school good-byes and hurried home to start their summer break.
Following the news reports of the path of the tornado, their principal, Chris Schmitz, was on the road immediately trying to reach the school, but was blocked by all the debris and devastation on the roads surrounding the school. Once daylight arrived, damage to the school, school grounds, and the entire neighborhood was evident. When the building was deemed safe to enter, Chris and his staff jumped right in with a plan! Summer school was scheduled to start in just a few days, and decisions had to be made- clean-up of classrooms; water removal; summer school classroom reassignments to the first floor; summer school supplies distributed- just to mention a few items on his list. This staff jumped into action with just one text message to them from Chris! It still gives me goosebumps to recall the number of staff who came to Dix Road that day to phone the parents of the students who were signed up for summer school. They filled up two offices and attempted to reach every one of their families. They asked if students were still going to be able to come to summer school, offered information about shelters, found out where parents were temporarily housed, provided information about busing, and just listened to stories that parents needed to share. Following the phone calls, this large group and many other school/community volunteers came to Gordon to clean up. In a short amount of time, all the work that needed to be done was accomplished- inside and out. At the end of the day, staff came out front of Thorpe Gordon and posed for a picture in the spot where a long-time, large oak tree had once stood. A promise was made to plant a new tree in the exact spot!
Many of this staff also took time out to visit the shelter where some of the Thorpe Gordon families were staying. I am also happy to report that this staff had a great plan to welcome students to summer school. Lots of hugs, smiles, and welcome backs were heard. Students could share their stories and staff were able to wrap their loving arms around the students that they consider THEIR own. It was a full summer school! Please join me in congratulating some of the members of the Thorpe Gordon staff and saying thank you for being difference makers for students and families!
-submitted by Lorie Rost, Director of Elementary Education
To view Difference Makers from the previous month, click here. Or, you can find an archive of all past honorees on the left side bar/menu of this page.