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Linda Anello, support employee of the year, says the award means a lot to those who serve as the school's ''bottom line.''
By DONNA WINCHESTER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 5, 2003
Linda Anello's heart skipped a beat Friday morning when she saw the line of children stretching from one end of Shore Acres Elementary to the other. All she could think of was that a fire drill was in progress.
It wasn't until she got out of her car in the bus circle that she heard the chanting: "You're No. 1! You're No. 1!"
The students had assembled within minutes of receiving a call that Anello was headed back to the school after being named Support Employee of the Year at a breakfast hosted by the Pinellas County Teachers Credit Union.
The welcoming party was the icing on the cake for the secretary-bookkeeper, who has received two prior nominations during her 18 years at Shore Acres.
"I had told my principal, 'I'm having a good year. It might be my turn,' " she said. "But I never really expected it. I didn't want to get my hopes up."
Anello is among 7,500 full- and part-time support services staff members who were eligible for nomination. She said the recognition means a lot to those who serve as the "bottom line" in the schools.
"We do a lot that's important. We're not directly linked with teaching, but we have more contact with the kids than anybody realizes," she said."
Besides answering phones, scheduling appointments and buying supplies, Anello is a mentor and monitors a program that rewards children for politeness, manners and kindness. She also directs a first-day registration program for students and parents.
Gloria Smith, secretary III at the Pinellas Academy for Leadership Development, was first runnerup. In 14 years with the district, she created a training and development program for support employees and improved their school bus rider program.
Arlene Collins, teacher assistant II at Hamilton Disston School, was second runnerup. She has worked for the district for 15 years. She collects and records behavior data, serves as a mentor in the turnaround room and accompanies high school students on their morning and afternoon bus rides.
In addition to Anello, Smith and Collins, this year's finalists included Jill Allison, Paul B. Stephens Exceptional Student Education Center; Brian Denson, North Ward Elementary; Patricia Lewis, Azalea Elementary; Kathleen Brisson-Marshall, Blanton Elementary; Eunice Morales, Bay Point Elementary; Cynthia Carbone, Riviera Middle; and Celette Williams, Secondary Social Studies.
Recognized as semifinalists were April Boshers, Paul B. Stephens Exceptional Student Education Center; Deborah King, Bay Vista Fundamental Elementary; Candace Brooks, Ozona Elementary; Alzena Patten, Lealman Avenue Elementary; Cynthia Constantinou, Clearwater High; Melissa Rodrigues, Blanton Elementary; Leslie Ingleman, McMullen-Booth Elementary; Teresa Scholle, Pinellas Central Elementary; Michael Kazouris, Pinellas County Schools Police Services; and Deborah Stone, Blanton Elementary.