BUCKHANNON — For the first time in history, Upshur County has two exemplary employees simultaneously advancing as top five finalists for the honors of West Virginia Service Personnel of the Year and Teacher of the Year, according to Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus. Payroll Coordinator for Upshur County Schools, Stephanie Bennett, will receive the news in September or October regarding her final standing on the state level.
In May, Bennett was selected by her peers as the Upshur County Service Personnel of the Year for the 2019-2020 school year. She operates out of the central office and has been employed by the Board of Education for 18 years in a variety of capacities, including Coordinator of Services and Secretary for Personnel. Aside from her responsibility with the BOE, she also holds numerous West Virginia service certifications and currently holds the position of President of the Upshur County Service Personnel Association.
In order to be considered on the state level, Bennett had to have two letters of recommendation from colleagues and one from the Superintendent supporting her application. She also had to present information to a nominating committee, as well as submit professional development and continuing education hours from the last five years. Bennett explained that the requirement is 18 hours, but added, “They want to know what you did above and beyond those 18 hours.” It is evident that Bennett exceeded those expectations.
“I want to thank Mrs. Bennett for her work ethic and concern for our community. She has been very active in the food delivery and distribution from the beginning, and she has stepped up in a variety of capacities as we have faced this pandemic. She is, indeed, an ‘essential’ employee,” Dr. Stankus stated regarding Bennett’s hard work and dedication.
Superintendent Stankus added, “School service personnel have different jobs and different roles in our Upshur County School system. Each role is essential to the education of the children of West Virginia. Mrs. Bennett never missed a day of work during the entire pandemic. Our employees never missed a paycheck as a result of her dedication. She understands the importance of her work in the school system and represents our county in a very positive way. She is bright, hard-working and dedicated, but most importantly she cares about the students and our employees. We are delighted that she has earned her spot at the top!”
BOE President Dr. Tammy Samples stated, “Upshur County service personnel are so important to the school system and the success of our students. Our service personnel extend themselves beyond basic required duties each and every day.”
Bennett explained she was surprised to move on as a top five finalist in the state, but she is also very honored to receive this award. She was surprised to receive the county award, and even more surprised on her achievement at the state level. “But I am not one to toot my own horn,” Bennett expressed.
Although Bennett’s job hasn’t varied in a lot of ways, she has had to execute a couple of added responsibilities since the COVID-19 outbreak. She revealed that her favorite part about her job is getting to contribute to the staff and students of the county, as well as keeping people paid and happy to provide all the services to the students.