GREENVILLE — Greenville Public Schools celebrated employees and honored those who work within public schools on Friday.
For the 30th years, Greenville held its Employee Appreciation Celebration at the Greenville High School Performing Arts Center.
“Greenville Public Schools is blessed,” said Superintendent Pete Haines of the employees in the school system during the welcome of the ceremony.
School Bell Award
During the ceremony, two people — a community member and staff member — were honored for their support through the School Bell Award.
“The School Bell Award is our most prestigious award,” Haines said.
Bruce Brissette was awarded with the community School Bell Award. His nomination stated he has flown to the rescue of anyone who has needed help.
“He has gone far beyond the call of duty,” Haines said.
Brissette, who is the husband of Assistant Superintendent Diane Brissette, was a man of few words Friday.
“Thanks, everybody,” he said, humbly.
Fran Gibbs, a Lincoln Heights Elementary School teacher, was awarded with the School Bell Award as a staff member. Gibbs was in tears as she took the stage, seeing her children and grandchildren from New York that she only gets to see a few times a year.
Haines read nominations that were full of kind words about Gibbs and her dedication to coming back to the students after her fight with cancer.
“She has left a mark as a teacher that goes far beyond the classroom,” Haines said.
Gibbs tearfully hugged Haines and thanked everyone for the award.
“This was completely unexpected,” Gibbs said. “Thank you so much. Thank you for standing by me in my battle with cancer and letting me come back to a job that I love.”
Greenville Area Community Foundation Director of Grants and Communications Amy O’Brien announced many grants that had been awarded to Greenville school employees to help with education. More than $200,000 total was given to help better the education of students and staff.
“Congrats to all Greenville Area Community Foundation (recipients),” O’Brien said. “We are proud to be able to support the local school system.”
However, it did not stop there. Wendy Baty, executive director of the Education Foundation of Greenville, also listed several awards that had been presented to the Greenville staff. She said the OUR 3 Campaign alone awarded $17,438 total.
“This summer when you are planning for next year, please keep the Education Foundation of Greenville in mind,” Baty said.
During Friday’s ceremony, 54 educators were recognized and given service awards for their time spent at Greenville. Staff received awards for being a part of the Greenville school district for five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 years.
Celebrating five years were Rachel Bartrum, Allyson Bradley, Kathy Bresnanhan, Sara DeVries, Stacy DeWeerd, Amy Gunderson, Robert Hilliker, Nathan Lewis, Loretta McColley, Velda Patten, Patricia Pixley, Donna Seelman, Brian Sullivan and Candance Weaver.
Celebrating 10 years were Kelly Bailey, Jenny Diehl, Alissa Donnelly, Angela Marcum, David Moore, Nicole Norburg, Sonja Peterson, Lori Simon, Amy Sullivan, Jamie VanSyckle and Gary Wondergem.
Celebrating 15 years were Pamela Boomer, Christopher Chapman, Barbara Fox, Katherine Frank, Fran Gibbs, John Hostetler, Reina Jensen, Jason Neil, Kimberly Nestle, Valerie Ockert, Kimberly Ramos, Jeanine Reimer, Geneese Sutphen, Carol Wisniewski and Brian Zdanowski.
Celebrating 20 years were Mary Adams, Michelle Blaszczynski, Karen Carman, Deb Hansen, Debra Howe and Marilyn Rewa.
Celebrating 25 years were Joy Feuerstein, Joe Pendleton, Debra Struble and Kethleen Wilkin.
Celebrating 30 years were Betsy Gryka and Joel Van Houten.
Baldwin Heights Elementary School educator Janet Wulf-Marvin has been with Greenville schools for 35 years.
“At some point, reasons change for getting up in the morning,” Haines noted. “After 35 years, you don’t do it for the paycheck anymore.
Staff members were also able to say goodbye and honor those who are retiring. Seven staff members retired and one, Zu Shule, was honored as she will be moving back to China. Retirees include Melanie Daniels, Fran Gibbs, Pam Gress, Kathy Kent, Karen Komorowski, Marcia Matevich and Noella Plambeck.
Greenville Public Schools Board of Education President Janet Ralph shared recent hardships she has experienced, resulting in her missing events for the first time in almost 40 years. She said through her hard time, she saw an outpouring from the community and school, which meant a lot for her.
“I observed what a remarkable school this is,” Ralph said. “It’s amazing to hear all that you have accomplished.”