Head cook named Douglas County classified employee of the year
Running a school cafeteria is not the most glamorous job, but according to her supervisors, Cindy Marchant does it with a finesse that is hard to find elsewhere.
That is why Marchant, head cook at Minden Elementary School, was chosen over 12 other Douglas County classified employees as the school district classified employee of the year Friday morning during a recognition breakfast at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School
An obviously shocked Marchant couldn’t get up from her seat right away as Principal Klaire Pirtle rushed to give her a hug.
This year’s teacher of the year, Janell Sheets, is also from MES and Pirtle said it is “such an honor for our school” to have both employees of the year.
Pirtle and Marchant’s direct supervisor, school district nutrition program supervisor Denise Higgins, both stepped up to the podium to recognize Marchant as the school’s employee of the year, before the big award was announced.
“Cindy’s a wonderful addition to our school,” Pirtle said. “She gives us more than just great meals. She also does the serving so she’s out with the kids everyday and she’s so good with the children and with the staff. She allows special salads and special things for the staff and even bends the rules a little. Because Cindy cooks with love, the food tastes better.”
Higgins said that MES has the highest percentage of student participation in the lunch program.
“To see how the children participate in the program, I think that says a lot. People like to come and eat in her cafeteria,”Higgins said.
Pirtle said Marchant, who has been at MES for about two years, has a “special empathy” for the kids and interacts with them everyday.
“She loves to go out and serve them, and our serving area is in the middle of our cafeteria, so it’s not a window and the kids surround her. She’s literally right in the midsts of them every day, with a smile on her face,” Pirtle said.
Marchant lost her son, Eric to suicide two years ago, and since then has been heavily involved in the Yellow Ribbon Project, which brings suicide prevention information to district students.
Pirtle said Marchant works with counselors to provide information to the students and Pirtle said she asked Marchant to talk to a class last year that was having problems with bullying. Pirtle said the kids’ eyes were opened to how their actions could affect other students.
“The class was having some problems and I went in to talk to them about tolerance and kindness and the problems Eric had,” Marchant said.
During Marchant’s acceptance speech, she said she was apprehensive about going back to the school after losing her son.
“My job has become such a family to me. When my son died, I wasn’t sure I could continue working around children, but I know I made the right choice. Everyday I just want to hug them all,” she said.
Marchant, who said interacting with the kids and the staff is her favorite part of the job, joined the district 4-1/2 years ago after she found her job in the grocery industry frustrating.
Marchant, whose husband Larry manages the Lahontan Fish Hatchery, received a glass plaque, but all the school winners received a certificate and a hat with the district logo on it.
Before introducing Marchant as the employee of the year, each nominee was introduced by their boss and director of classified personnel Sandy King. Superintendent Pendery Clark told the group she wanted them to know she believed they represented all the excellent classified employees at all the sites and believed they were the backbone of the school district.
The other employees recognized were:
Nick Carter, who has been with the district for 12 years and is a head custodian at PWLMS. He also runs a car and airplane model club for the students after school.
Irma Erb, who has been with the school district for 19 years and is retiring as Douglas High School registrar this year.
Margaret Guzman, who has been greeting people at Pinon Hills Elementary School as secretary for four years.
Diana Hermann, who watches out for the kids at C.C. Meneley Elementary School as playground aide. She has been with the district for nine years.
Rocky Koch, a maintenance worker with plant operations for three years.
Davelyn Miyashiro, a playground aide with Scarselli Elementary School who also runs a chess club after school.
Olivia Sullivan is leaving Carson Valley Middle School after four years as library technician. She recently earned a college degree to become a public librarian.
Paul Taylor, who has been a mechanic in the vehicle maintenance department for the past 3-1/2 years and is also a volunteer with Johnson Lane Fire Department.
Neyzer Torres, a Spanish teacher at Gardnerville Elementary School for four years. Principal Dick Brownfield said her husband had to translate during her interview, but she has learned English quickly and is an excellent Spanish teacher.
Scott Walker, a bus driver with the district for five years who organizes field trips and was classified employees spokesperson during contract negotiations.
Mary Wheeler, who has been with the district for 20 years and is currently secretary for the occupational education department at DHS.
And Lauren Young, head secretary at Jacks Valley Elementary School for two years, who has worked for the district for four years.