Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Lunch Lady with a Passion Part II

In April, Cielo Kramer sent us some of her thoughts about the world she works in. You can read that at Lunch Lady with a Passion Part I

She is now back to share some additional thoughts:

By Cielo Kramer,  Food Service Manager at Cash Elementary School

My honeymoon with the school system was over, the routines are setting in and so are the pressures and challenges.

My first two weeks this school year in a new school had been a mix of tremendous work load and fast transitions.  From South Fork to Cash, I made my way to meet new school staff, parents, students and my new crew and new supervisor.  Standards were laid down; rules are mandated; and yes, expectations are posted!  Quick and right implementations mean keen supervision and determination. Developing team work from among my staff is another thing. Complying to my supervisor’s high standards is an added concern.  And by the way I am also a mother of four!

Starting with positive outlook was my goal and yet there were days that I was overwhelmed and tempted to reconsider my job options. I guess there is nothing wrong with being candid and truthful about my frailties and weaknesses. I asked myself, “Is it worth all my effort?  Is the exchange of life and time fair enough to what I am being compensated for?  Am I truly making a difference?”

Then on the third week , while serving a a little boy in my breakfast line, it dawned on me! My passion can never be overridden by any physical or emotional restraints or challenges . This is what I am called for at this point of time. How can I give up? How can I trade this opportunity of serving these children to what I feel?

I started looking at the lives of the teachers, the selfless service they do for their students, how late they stay to finish their lesson plans and provide after-school tutorials. I met Liz Money, a driven first grade teacher at Ibraham Elementary School for many years. She decorates her classroom and buys special furniture from her own money to give her students a safe and inviting learning environment. She designs costumes, cuts out colorful prints and frames, does field trips and many other extra-curricular activities to awaken the learning minds of these kids. The passion she has is very inspiring! I can give her the Best Teacher Award every year!

Then here comes Beth Hurst, our lead custodian here at Cash for 17 years.  I see her every day with perseverance in her eyes.  I asked her, “So in three years, will you be excited to retire?”  Well, she answered, “I might come to a point where  I will wear my walking stick but I will not be excited to retire from this school.”

“I love my job and I have no plans to retire, they have to drive me away,” she added. Thinking of her job, she comes  every day in the wee hours of  the morning, turns off the alarm, unlocks the doors, turns on all the lights, cleans up rooms, hallways and cafeteria, runs errands, orders and inventories, reports to supervisors and not to mention her duties to her family. Her character says a lot to me.  People with passion know what make them happy rain or shine.

In my kitchen, I have some amazing people too! Kim Williams, working for the school system for less than 18 years, memorized the names of all of the students eating in our cafeteria. Three hundred plus names ingrained to her memory - isn’t that amazing enough?

Loretta Martin, the most popular lunch lady in town! Kids look for her when she out of sight. They give her a hug and exchange funny greetings with her.  She serves with kindness and is always vibrant in dealing with people. Her work is not in any way compromised with the positive way she deals with her co- workers and customers. 

Steve Fulwood,  my people-person kind of staff!! Never a grouch, never a sigh! He’s a friend to everyone! His work as a dishwasher, back-up server and trash porter has never been an issue.  I never hear a word of complaint when I ask him to do extra work in the kitchen.  I am proud to say that my staff goes far above and beyond their job descriptions. They love what they are doing and this encourages me to step higher from what my superiors expects me to accomplish.  They give me reasons to be stronger and determined with my role as their leader.

I scribbled this during my free time while thinking of my co- managers and co-lunch ladies and gentlemen. I am not alone on this ride and I know they are all special in the roles they are in. I am hopeful that by reading this that they will be more encouraged to perform with excellence and know that our toil goes farther than the walls of our kitchens and cafeterias. We are contributors to the great future of these young lives that we are serving every day. Our efforts are not wasted and our labors are not in vain. A work done with heart does not only deserve recognition but it also gives an assurance of a life being given away for the good of others.
Please give a shout to the hundreds of cafeteria workers at WS/FCS!!  Making a mark in the service of the children!

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