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The stars of support


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 12, 2001

Today, the Citrus County School District will honor the people who are the nuts and bolts of the school system: the ones who transport the children, cook for them, tend to their bumps and bruises; maintain their buildings, help their teachers, manage their educations; the ones who keep things running so the children can learn.

These are the school system's support people. One has been selected from each school and district department as its 2001 Support Person of the Year. At the Citrus County Education Foundation Luncheon and Awards Ceremony, each of those will be recognized, and one will be named the Citrus County School District Support Person of the Year.

Here are this year's winners:

Marry Sullivan

Office clerk

Citrus High School

Sullivan has worked for the district for 10 years and has been at Citrus High for five years. She says, "I do enjoy working with students and feel that at times I can be a great influence on these young people."

Helen Wilson

Main cook

Citrus Springs Elementary School

Wilson has been at Citrus Springs for 12 years. She has worked with the school district for 13 years. It was difficult for Wilson to isolate any one part of her job as a favorite part. She simply says she likes, "everything."

Karen Cotton

Data secretary

Citrus Springs Middle School

Cotton says she enjoys the staff, the students, the campus, and the challenges of her job. She has spent her five years with the district at Citrus Springs Middle.

Loretta Smith

Teacher's assistant

CREST School

Smith has been at CREST and in the district for 17 years. She says, "I like everything about my job, especially being able to work with a great staff at CREST. I enjoy working with all trainable mentally handicapped and children and their different abilities.

David Schopfer


Crystal River High School

Schopfer was been at the school for two years. He says, "I like working with teachers and students in a pleasant atmosphere of a school system. It's a fast paced job and very rewarding."

Kathy King

Education teacher assistant

Crystal River Middle School

King has been with the district and at the school for two years. She says, "My job encourages me to stay young, be involved and make a difference, a positive difference in someone's life everyday. I love the enthusiasm, the daily challenges and the feeling when I leave the building that I have encouraged those I have come to know. My co-workers are my extended family and each day I receive a blessing. I get to work with adults to offer the very best to the students they teach. I'm a nurturer and believe that all can and do benefit from those who are willing to sacrifice the time needed to make a difference in a person's life."

Kathrina Scriven

Acting head custodian

Crystal River Primary School

Scriven has been in the district and at Crystal River Primary for 24 years. She says, "I enjoy working with the kids and my co-workers. It's a very rewarding job."

Ana Ramos

District secretary

Education Services

Ramos has worked for the district for four years and has been at her present position for one and a half years. She says, "My job is rewarding in many ways. I work with a family of dedicated and caring individuals in my department. My responsibilities as a district secretary for the Title I program are very special to me. Our program helps children who need extra help with reading skills learned at the elementary level. I also spend many nights during the month traveling from school to school on our Title I Resource Bus. The bus provides reading materials, videos, games and literature for parents. Our Title I reading bus encourages family interaction in our schools and community."

David Benthusen

Transition specialist

District Services Center

Benthusen works with the Exceptional Student Education program. He has been with the district for nine years and in his present position for five. He says, "I enjoy the rewarding feeling when a student who once had barriers to employment becomes a gainfully employed member of society as a result of our Community Based Vocational Instruction Program."

Carol Gallina

Teacher's assistant

Floral City Elementary School

Gallina works with the Exceptional Student Education program and has been at Floral City for 16 years. She has worked for the district for 21 years. Gallina says, "I enjoy working with the students and watching them progress. I have seen some of the children grow into responsible adults. Knowing that I am able to help them makes this job very rewarding."

Cynthia Tobin

Principal's secretary

Forest Ridge Elementary School

Tobin has been at the school for four months. She has been with the district for 11 years. She says, "One of the things that intrigued me about moving to start a new school was the sense of accomplishment that would be achieved by succeeding in preparing the school to open for the first time. The reality of schools today is that everyone must wear many hats to effectively do their job and my position is no different. Being actively involved in so many areas of the school has given me a broad perspective of school administration. The diversity of my position makes each day a new learning experience."

Laura Cronk

Teacher's assistant

Hernando Elementary School

Cronk has been in the district at Hernando for 18 years. She said what she enjoys about her job is "working with the children."

Pam Balkcom

Principal's secretary

Homosassa Elementary School

Balkcom has been at the school for 16 years. She has been with the school district for 21 years. Balkcom says, "I like the challenges that come each day, as they keep my job interesting. The people that I work with are like family. It's nice to come to work in a caring and family environment. I have found working at a school, seeing the children every day, watching them and catching a glimpse of life through their eyes helps me keep my life in perspective."

Ann Harris

Health room attendant

Inverness Middle School

Harris has been in the district and at the school for 12 years. She says, "I'm dedicated to the people I work with, the students, their parents and the entire staff at my school. I'm not only there to help the students when they are sick, I'm there to listen when they simply need someone to talk to. That's the best part of my job."

Joni Eastman

Health room attendant

Inverness Primary School

Eastman has been with the district for 17 years and at the school for 12 years. She says what she likes about her job is "caring for and helping our children."

Patricia Grant

Health room attendant

Lecanto High School

Grant has been at Lecanto for five years. She has been with the district for 12 years. Grant says she likes "everything" about her job. She says, "The rewards of sharing my day with students on a daily basis is very fulfilling. I'm their mom away from home. They come to me for every problem imaginable and I try to guide them in the right direction."

Joanie Lewis

Job coach

Lecanto Middle School

Lewis has been at the school for two years. She has worked in the district for seven years. She says, "I love working with the students in the career awareness program. Laura Norton and I piloted this program last year. TOgether we have created a prevocational classroom which teaches functional academics as well as life skills and non-paid work experience. Each day is filled with new challenges and I feel very fortunate to be part of this team."

Lynn Kuder

Teacher's assistant

Lecanto Primary School

Kuder has been in the district and at the school for 10 years. She says she likes "the opportunity to work with a diverse group of individuals who all come together for one purpose, to provide a safe and caring environment and make learning fun."

William Weldon

Facilities technician IV welder


Weldon has been a with the district for 19 years. He says he enjoys, "doing what I get to do for the children."

Helen Pannelli

Administrative secretary

Management Services

Pannelli has been at the District Services Center in planning and development for five years. She says, "I LOVE MY JOB! I am solely responsible for the entering of inservice points for all of our staff-administrative, board members, instructional and support staff. Our staff uses inservice points for renewal of their teaching certificates or incentive pay raises. Our staff attends trainings, workshops, conferences, college classes and vocational trainings. We are a great team working together and one cannot do without the rest of the team.

Sarah Windham

Principal's secretary

Pleasant Grove Elementary School

Windham has been at the school and in the district for 12 years. She says, "I enjoy working with the entire staff. They are such a pleasure."

Virginia Watson

Learning assistant

Renaissance Center

Watson has worked in the district for three years and at the school for two. She says, "There are many things I like about my job at the Renaissance Center. These students need my love, compassion, and attention and I enjoy that feeling of being needed. I believe the students at this school need to feel, not only that a staff member works here, but also wants to and enjoys working here. I am one of those staff members. The students have had a tough time in school and need to know there are people out there that care about and believe in them. The most compelling and enjoyable part of my job is working with the peers I do. We share a special bond at the Renaissance Center. We have a tough job and have to work together to ensure that each day is a brand new beginning for every one of our students."

Mary Parrish

Teacher's assistant

Rock Crusher Elementary School

Parrish works with the Exceptional Student Education program in the augmentative communication classroom. She has been at Rock Crusher for seven years, but is in her first year in the augmentative class. She says, "What I like most about my job is that I am part of a team that can give a child a way to communicate. I love what I do and want to make a difference in the lives of the children with whom I work, and the young adult with whom I live, as individuals who learn and communicate in a different way. I feel that I have accomplished something when I am part of the team that has given a student a tool to communicate and the student smiles at you and reaches up to you to give you a hug as to say thank you. I sincerely feel that everyone deserves to be recognized because we all work hard to make our day successful."

Judy McKendry

Data secretary

Administrative Services

McKendry works with the district purchasing department. She has been with the district for 10 years and in her current position for two. She says, "I like many aspects of my job, from researching items to be purchased, communicating with vendors and school employees, to assuring that the schools have received the most competitive prices. I feel fortunate to work with so many wonderful people who make my job enjoyable."

James Horn

Bus driver


Horn has be driving bus in the district and for Crystal River High School for three years. He says, "I like being around people. I enjoy being around the kids. They're good kids. I like the kids."

Marjorie Pulcini

Teacher's assistant

Withlacoochee Technical Institute

Pulcini has been at WTI for two years and with the district for six years. She says, "I try to create and enhance projects given to me by my co-workers by using state-of-the-art technology and software. In doing so, I make the classroom atmosphere more conductive to the learning environment."

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