Jones Elementary School teachers received the gift that keeps on giving.
When Jones School District’s Superintendent Mike Steele told his teachers he was going to do everything he could to see they got a bonus at Christmas, neither he nor the teachers knew for sure how or if it would transpire.
“It has been a while since the teachers have received a raise from the state, seven years in fact,” Steele said. “Even though I was on the opposite side in the negotiations process I gave them a promise that if we could budget a little extra, save a little back, I would like to give certified and non-certified employees a little Christmas bonus.”
Steele said when he mentioned it during the October school board meeting the board members voted overwhelmingly to give certified teachers $200 and non-certified employees $125.
As the months passed many forgot the promise and when the Christmas holidays came around most were surprised to see their December paychecks a little larger.
“It was a small token of the appreciation the administration and the school board have for the faculty and staffs,” Steele said.
What Steele couldn’t know was a non-certified employee at Jones Elementary School was having trouble paying his propane bill for the month and cold weather was forecast. Nor could he know a short time later a teacher with 40 years teaching in the classroom was hit head-on in a car collision, putting her in the hospital with all her limbs broken and in critical condition.
Jones Elementary is a small school by some standards with 550 students enrolled in pre-K through fifth grade and a staff of 50 teachers.
“We are a rural school,” said Principal Cindy Harrison, “ and two weeks before Christmas, one of our staff was having trouble paying for propane for heat.”
The principal sent an email explaining the situation saying the staff member had been there for more than 25 years and if anyone had anything left over to just put it in an envelope.
“We had gotten a bonus check of $200 from the school board and many of the teachers wanted to take their bonus check and give it to the staff member,” Harrison said. “Money started rolling in all day long and into the next day. One of the teachers is married to a Baptist preacher in Choctaw and he brought a check for $300.”
The teachers collected more than $3,000 to help purchase propane and had money left to help the employee with his taxes and buy tires for his vehicle. In an assembly the principal told the students to find a cause and to pay it forward, which is exactly what the teachers had done.
On Wednesday before the Christmas break, a teacher who had been teaching at the elementary school for more than 40 years didn’t show up. She had come in two days prior to sign her evaluation, and at that time she had told Harrison she would be retiring at the end of the year.
“She was always the first one to arrive, and when she wasn’t there we knew something had happened,” Harrison said. “She had been hit in a head-on collision when topping a hill on Britton Road. She has been in the hospital for 30 days now with a severed artery in her stomach and all of her limbs broken as well as other injuries.”
Once again the word went out and everyone started asking what could they do to help.
“We fed her family during the evenings and continue to take quarters to the hospital for the vending machines, and we will take food to the family after she gets home,” Harrison said. “What is weird is the month prior to all of this happening our cheerleaders were chosen to go to the Capital 1 Bowl and several teachers had already given to the $15,000 total raised by the girls in three months.
“They do not have deep pockets,” Harrison said. “They are just that kind of people. So far they have raised more than $1,000 for the teacher and the donating is still ongoing.”
The elementary school has set up an account in a local bank to help with the expenses of the family getting back and forth to the hospital.
“Time and time again we have all been in some situation, something that gave us a spine-chilling feeling,” Harrison said. “These are not monied people. They pay their bills from month to month. They are sacrificing to help someone else. I have lived with this mind-set of the community for years. It shows people do care.”
Harrison said the teachers appreciated the bonus given by the board. But the teachers said they hadn’t budgeted with the bonus in mind.
“Many said the Lord gave it to me, and in giving it away it will come back to me,” Harrison said. “They were paying it forward just like I had urged the students to do in the assembly.”
When Edmond’s Second Street Chick-Fil-A franchise owner Greg Harjo found out what the teachers had done, he and his staff decided to reach across city lines and provide lunch for the teachers to show them Chick-Fil-A’s appreciation for the generosity they had shown to others.
“Jones doesn’t have a Chick-Fil-A, so we, being part of the community from a community event standpoint, just wanted to reach out and show we were supporting them,” Harjo said.
In addition to lunch, the staff was given Chick-Fil-A coupons and cow Pez dispensers, said Laura Longley, spokeswoman for the company. “We wanted to celebrate them taking care of their own, and doing something for someone else, and we as a company are giving back to them.”
The injured teacher is now in rehabilitation and making a wonderful recovery, Harrison said.
The students are making their teacher cards and banners and soon this special education teacher will be skyping with her second- and third-grade students.
“We are thrilled to death with Chick-Fil-A and their generosity,” Steele said. “They are always a good neighbor, and as it turns out, Chick-Fil-A is my favorite place to eat.”
Jones Elementary School teachers received the gift that keeps on giving.
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Touchmark residents give ‘thumbs up’ to new YMCA
Senior citizens from Touchmark bundled up, braved the cold and the icy roads this week and traveled to the Edmond YMCA Recreation & Aquatic Center at Mitch Park on Covell.
The tour group was one of more than 100 that have been guided through the new facility to show what will be available when it is finished. This $22.5 million facility is a joint project with the the Edmond School District, the City of Edmond and the YMCA.
Joining the group and donning hard hats were Touchmark residents Ellie Lottinville, Judith Harris, Jimmie Cook, John Wayant and Richard Newville along with Carla Scull, Touchmark’s director of life enrichment, and Jesse Walls, driver.
Guthrie-Edmond airport looks to upgrade
The Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport board was told Tuesday by officials from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission that GERA is in good shape but work needs to continue to help maximize everything the airport has to offer.
The board was given a presentation by OAC director Vic Bird and Dale Williams, OAC planning division manager about the state of the aviation industry in Oklahoma and how airports the size of GERA are faring.
AAA: Teens report ‘TWD’ significantly less than adults
High school-aged teens report using their phones or texting while driving substantially less often than adults do, according to new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
While the public often cites teens as being the most common offenders, a recent survey found that adult drivers ages 25-39 were the most likely to admit engaging in these risky behaviors behind the wheel.
Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, said young novice drivers, who are especially susceptible to distracted driving crashes, are using their phones while driving less than older drivers.
AAA to offer free Tipsy Tow rides
Before climbing behind the wheel after drinking at a holiday party, AAA Oklahoma hopes you’ll think again and call them for a free Tipsy Tow ride home for you, your vehicle and one more person.
“Over Christmas and New Year’s, up to 40 percent of all traffic crashes involve alcohol,” said Edmond resident Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “But motorists do have options: Use a designated driver, serve non-alcoholic mocktails at parties or call AAA for a Tipsy Tow.”
Paycom plans HoliDazzle event to benefit Warmth 4 Winter Coat Drive
Paycom has teamed with News Channel 4, The Salvation Army and Rotary Club of South Oklahoma City to host HoliDazzle, a free event at Remington Park on Thursday to kick-off the annual Warmth 4 Winter coat drive.
Parents and children are encouraged to bring a new or gently used coat from 3:30-7:30 p.m. to help ensure that every child and adult stays warm during Oklahoma’s harsh winter months. Those who contribute are encouraged to enjoy an afternoon of holiday fun with train rides, pictures with Santa, hot cocoa and cookies.
Lilyfield reschedules ‘Dunks for Diapers’
Lilyfield Christian Adoption and Foster Care has rescheduled its Dunks for Diapers event.
Lilyfield holds a diaper drive with the Oklahoma Christian University Women’s basketball team to benefit foster children. Anyone bringing diapers, wipes or new baby items for ages 0-24 months will gain free admission to the women’s game versus Lubbock Christian University, which will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Eagles’ Nest on the campus of Oklahoma Christian in Edmond.
“This will allow us to give foster families much-needed necessities when they receive placement of a foster child. Often placements happen with little notice and the child may come into a foster home with nothing but the clothes they are wearing,” said Holly Towers, executive director of Lilyfield Christian Adoption and Foster Care.
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Cold impacts Edmond businesses, city services
Roger Seaton is operating manager of Edmond Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing, 3104 South Kelly Ave., owned by the Seaton family since 1970.
On Tuesday, for the first time in days, the temperature in the Edmond area rose above 32 degrees. At 2:53 p.m. Tuesday, the temperature was 41 degrees at the Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport, surpassing the predicted high of 34, according to the National Weather Service.
Seaton’s business offers plumbing services including water line work and repairs to faucets in the kitchen and bathroom. When it comes to plumbing calls, pipes that burst are a priority, Seaton said. It takes a while for pipes to freeze, he said, and residents began calling by Friday. Calls during the cold spell were both about frozen pipes and pipes that had burst.
If you have no water coming out of a faucet, shut off the water upstream and open cabinet doors to get warmer air circulating around pipes, Seaton said.
School back in session Wednesday
Parents are heaving a sign of relief while some students aren’t going to be quite as happy.
“All classes and activities will resume Wednesday in Edmond Public Schools,” said Susan Parks-Schlepp, director of public information and community involvement. “Slick spots remain and buses may be running a bit late but secondary roads are in much better shape after significant thawing.”
As reported earlier, students will not be making up the four snow days taken off from school this past week.
Kelly widening project progressing
Work progresses smoothly for the Kelly widening project, City Manager Larry Stevens said before the City Council this week. Road work began in July about 1,000 feet north of Covell and continues north to a point 350 feet south of Coffee Creek.
Duit Construction/TTK Construction is in charge of constructing a four-lane divided roadway with left turn lanes at all public streets along the project on Kelly going from Covell to Coffee Creek.
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