July 20, 2021

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  – The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) today announced 10 finalists for the 2021-2022 West Virginia School Service Personnel of the Year. This honor recognizes the commitment and dedication of staff members in the public school system who work beyond expectations to serve students and families in their communities.

This year’s finalists are bus operators, cafeteria managers, secretaries and custodians from around the state:

  • Deidra Burdette, Custodian, Greenmont Elementary School, Wood County
  • Julia “Julie” Clayton, Cafeteria Manager, Glen Dale Elementary School, Marshall County
  • Shelby Lucas, Secretary, Explorer Academy, Cabell County
  • Donald McNeel, Bus Operator, Hillsboro Elementary School, Pocahontas County
  • Jody Miller, Secretary, Ohio County Schools
  • Katherine “Kathy” Miller, Cafeteria Manager, Wayne High School, Wayne County
  • Holly Palmer, Cook III/Cafeteria Manager, Paw Paw Schools, Morgan County
  • Heather Pindell, Transportation Supervisor, Jefferson County Schools
  • Allen Spangler, Bus Operator, Monroe County Schools
  • Angela Trammell, Secretary, Ritchie County High School, Ritchie County

“These individuals truly represent what it means to be a caring adult in the lives of our students,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “They exhibit compassion and dedication to ensure our children have safe, positive and comprehensive educational experiences. As we continue through the pandemic, our school service personnel members are an important part of the network of supports our children need.”

Deidra Burdette is a head custodian at Greenmont Elementary School in Wood County. Burdette is known for making everyone smile and for her love of children. She helps train and mentor Wood County custodians, spending hours teaching necessary skills. Burdette keeps a calendar to recognize everyone’s birthdays. She treats all the students as if they are her own, even providing Halloween costumes when needed. She is always making T-shirts for everyone at the school to make sure they are included in all the activities.

Julia Clayton is a cafeteria manager at Glen Dale Elementary in Marshall County. Clayton has served Marshall County students for 10 years. She prides herself on being in-tune with the needs of her students as well as being motivated to share her positive work ethic and team approach with her co-workers. Clayton consistently goes above and beyond her job description and has spent many days finding lost retainers, dressing up for School Lunch Hero Day, cooking and delivering meals to families and organizing holiday celebrations for her students.

Shelby Lucas is the main office secretary at the Explorer Academy in Cabell County. Due to her upbeat and positive demeanor, Lucas is known to be the heartbeat of the school. She consistently demonstrates that she is a valued resource by assuming non-traditional roles, such as managing the school’s clothing closet and food pantry, taking photographs for the yearbook and assisting with first aid when needed. In addition to her secretarial obligations, Lucas seeks new ways to improve her school and the services it provides for its staff, students and families.

Donald McNeel is a bus operator for Hillsboro Elementary School in Pocahontas County. A 32-year veteran employee of Pocahontas County Schools, he is known as a pillar of the community who carries a reverence for the educational environment. He displays his eagerness to go the extra mile for his students by serving breakfast, offering fatherly advice when needed and delivering assignments to those who are absent. McNeel’s commitment to his community is modeled by serving Pocahontas County as an emergency medical technician, providing yearly emergency first aid and CPR training for county staff and serving as a firefighter.

Jody Miller is a federal programs secretary at Ohio County Schools’ central office. She has served in this capacity for 14 years and is commonly known as the backbone of federal programs. She is a tireless volunteer who works in numerous student-based organizations, works to provide scholarships to future nurses, works with Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), serves as a member of the Junior Police Program, assists with the preparation of events designed to empower students to help each other and is an active member for the Center for Organ Recovery and Education.

Kathy Miller is a cafeteria manager at Wayne High School in Wayne County. A pillar of support for her students and community, she has been in her current role for 19 years. Miller’s consistent dedication is displayed by her involvement in the development and implementation of her school’s meal pick-up program, school improvement days and cooking pre-game meals for the football team. Additionally, she participates in fundraising dinners for Hospice of Huntington and is involved with the Wayne County Special Olympics.

Holly Palmer is a cook III/cafeteria manager at Paw Paw Schools in Morgan County. She prides herself on being knowledgeable about food safety and child nutrition, as well as the best interests of the students she serves. She is the head volleyball coach, a member of the Morgan County Service Personnel Association and an advocate on the Paw Paw Schools Athletic Boosters. Outside of her managerial obligations, Palmer is a member of the local volunteer fire department and a member of the Paw Paw Town Council.

Heather Pindell is a transportation supervisor in Jefferson County. In addition to being known for her welcoming personality and extensive experience in bus transportation, Pindell is known for her level of commitment to her community. She plays an instrumental role in her community’s food distribution program and creates charitable benefits for people in need. Outside of the schools, she contributes to the Fraternal Order of Police as a volunteer for Lodge #83 and fundraises and participates in the “Santa with a Badge” program.

Allen Spangler is a senior bus operator in Monroe County. He has served his community by transporting students for 42 years. Spangler has dedicated his life to building relationships with students, safely transporting students to school or extracurricular trips and making sure his students’ basic needs are met, especially when it comes to food security. When he is off duty, Spangler spends most of his time on his farm, mentoring young farmers, participating in the Cattleman’s Association and serving on Local School Improvement Councils.

Angela Trammell is the finance and food secretary at Ritchie County High School in Ritchie County where she manages financial accounts and maintains accurate records for expenditures and revenue sources. She uses her technology, photography and design skills to promote Ritchie County Schools and her students’ accomplishments, recreates county calendars and senior ads for the yearbook, produces homecoming shirts and more. Outside of her obligations at the school, Trammell has served on the levy and bond community support group, is the secretary for Ritchie County’s Local School Improvement Council and volunteers with the athletic boosters and with the scholarship committee. She also works as a co-sponsor for the Future Business Leaders of America.

West Virginia’s School Service Personnel of the Year and Teacher of the Year will be announced on September 7, 2021, during a ceremony at the West Virginia Culture Center in Charleston.

For more information about the West Virginia Service Personnel of the Year, please visit wvde.us/service-personnel-of-the-year/.

For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications at 304-558-2699 or by emailing communications.wvde@k12.wv.us.

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