It’s easy to spot Garfield cleaner Nadia Bouti. She’s the one with the mega-watt smile that never goes away. The smile is just one part of a never-wavering positive attitude that has led Nadia to be named one of our June Staff Spotlight nominees.
Nadia takes great pride in helping to maintain her building and is driven by her desire to have “everyone be proud of the school.” She is proactive in her work and has a keen eye for when something needs fixed and works immediately to resolve the issue.
Said her nominator, Garfield teacher Liz Street, “Nadia is pleasant, positive, polite, and works so hard to make Garfield a beautiful building.” Liz also noted Nadia’s willingness to mentor new or substitute cleaners who work the evening shift.
Nadia, who has worked at Garfield nearly a decade, says she loves everything about her job and has one goal as she approaches her work each day: “I always want to make everyone happy.”
Garfield Principal Mark Walter calls Nadia most deserving of this honor. “She is hard-working, conscientious and always with a smile,” he said. Or as Liz said in her nomination, “Nadia is a great example of what a Lakewood Schools employee should be.”
As adviser for the Facing History Girls’ Leadership Group, Lakewood High history teacher Megan Eadah brings together our high school girls who are new to this country with their established American peers to bridge the cultural gap among them and foster bonds of sisterhood. Her girls’ group has provided a comfortable and safe space for some of our most vulnerable students. Her efforts have brought the admiration of her peers and this recognition as one of our June Staff Spotlight honorees.
Megan’s 3-year-old Facing History group has met an important need for our refugee and immigrant girls to help them assimilate and feel part of the LHS community. Megan says she has always had a passion for our refugee population and starting the girls’ group was a way she could reach out to those students while also broadening perspectives for the American girls in the group.
The group members share their cultures with each other through food, music and sharing of stories, which often are both inspiring and tragic. They take field trips together and work on service projects that benefit the refugee population such as a household goods drive.
This good work does not go unnoticed by her colleagues: “Megan is a beacon of hope for many of our students who struggle to assimilate in their new community,” said LHS teacher Lauren Flynn, one of her nominators.
In her history classes, Megan is praised for her ability to connect past events with events and issues relevant to students today. Recently, her freshmen class engaged in a virtual cultural exchange with a Pakistani school, sharing videos of their communities with each other.
Megan’s cultural outreach is driven by her belief that a sense of community can be fostered when we share stories. Another of her nominators, interpreter Laura Shewalter, believes it’s working: “Through (Megan’s) example I truly believe she is creating a kinder world. Our students and community are lucky to have her.”
Navigating the hills and valleys of middle school and high school is not easy. Thankfully, the students at Lakewood City Academy have dropout prevention agent Renee Kolecki to help direct them to the right path. Because of her tireless efforts on behalf of LCA students and her support and guidance offered to her fellow staff members, Renee is being honored as one of our June Staff Spotlight honorees.
The work Renee has done with students over the last nine years at LCA as a professional clinical counselor is a wonder to those around her. “Her unconditional care and effort for every student on a daily basis is truly inspiring,” said LCA teacher Pat Barrett, one of Renee’s many nominators.
Others notice that Renee does not shy from having tough conversations with students and that the students respond because as another of her nominator’s Missy McCarthy says, “they know that what she says is out of real love and concern.”
In her job, Renee not only counsels students to help them make healthy choices that will lead them to be better students and people, but she also provides support to parents. She supplies families with social service and community organization referrals because she knows it’s tougher for students to succeed when their family is in crisis.
Renee likes to say that her role with the students is “to listen and help them express things in a way that will help them be heard.” Her office is a welcoming place for students, a safe space. And although her job can be challenging, for Renee, the joy that comes from a day like today – graduation day – makes it all worth it.
For Roosevelt third grade teacher Cindy Vullo, teaching comes naturally. She is a daughter of a teacher and her giving, caring nature and desire to educate young minds was instilled in her from as early as she can remember. “It’s just something I love to do,” she says.
Her dedication to her students and her school, her continual self-evaluation and adjusting to her students needs has inspired her fellow teachers and earned her the recognition as one of our June Staff Spotlight honorees.
“Cindy is constantly finding new ways to reach not only the students in her classroom, but students throughout our school,” said her nominator and fellow 3rd grade teacher Melissa Hare. “She goes out of her way to meet students where they are and push them to the next level.”
Cindy treats her students as if they were her own, giving them a smile each day they walk in and a rub on the back if they look like they need it. “We are a family,” she says. “We take care of each other.”
Cindy believes that school experiences outside of the classroom are just as valuable to creating life-long learners. She volunteers her time to lead the incredibly successful Walking Club – which
brings multiple generations together for camaraderie and exercise, the Roosevelt Service Club, and the Talent Show.
Cindy’s positivity and wisdom gained from 25 years as a Lakewood City Schools teacher has earned the admiration of those around her. Says Melissa Hare: “I am a better teacher, more compassionate and organized because I have had the privilege of working alongside this dedicated, kind, caring, loving educator!”