'I couldn’t believe it’: Amelia Co. Public Schools full-time employees given $1,000 each

Updated: Nov. 11, 2020 at 6:29 PM EST
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AMELIA Co., Va. (WWBT) - All full-time Amelia County school employees received a big surprise Tuesday from the Superintendent and school board, a $1,000 check.

For several weeks Superintendent Dr. Lori Harper said she had been trying to find a way to show her appreciation to ACPS employees and the hardships faced by them during the pandemic.

After consulting with several administrators, Harper headed to the school board who then approved her proposal Monday night for a One Time Hazard and Enhancement of Learning Pay (OTHELP). Full-time employees received $1,000 while two part-time employees received $500.

“It’s always gratifying to work with the student, even if money is involved or not,” said Sherry Spurlock, the Special Education Coordinator for Amelia Middle School.

“Teachers go into teaching because we want to make an inspiration to children,” added Ashley Harris, a fourth-grade teacher at Amelia Elementary School. “We do what we do for the kids.”

On Tuesday, Harper and school board members made their rounds to 220 employees to drop off the checks one-on-one and in small groups.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Clara Squire, a bus driver.

On Tuesday,November 10, 2020, Dr. Lori Harper, Division Superintendent, accompanied by Mr. Mike Neller, School Board...

Posted by Amelia County Public Schools on Tuesday, November 10, 2020

“Doing it the way we did it was just better than just adding it in a paycheck because we wanted each person to know, you’re important; we need you and we appreciate you,” Harper said.

“It made you feel like you really did care and really did want to acknowledge in a special way all of our hard work and dedication,” Harris added.

Amelia students are either in a full virtual learning format or hybrid learning. As a result, there have been a lot of changes this year.

“We’ve had bus drivers who have had to help out in the cafeteria,” Harper said. “We’ve had teachers who are basically doing double duty.”

“Titles may mean something to some people, but when you’re in a school system like this when we’re going through a pandemic, everyone has got to work together,” Squire said.

That’s what these employees said has been happening with ‘Team Amelia’.

“We have been enduring; we’ve been looking and working outside the box,” Spurlock said. However, also inside that envelope was another gift of appreciation - a letter.

The letter reads in part:

“Since March, ACPS employees have lived up to our mission and provided service beyond that of any other year. We have faced new challenges resulting from the coronavirus. We have witnessed staff members pitching in to feed our community, drivers delivering meals and checking temperatures, teachers preparing lessons for virtual and hybrid instruction, school staff sanitizing student learning spaces and providing child care for others, principals revising schedules to meet a variety of learners and preparing schools for opening, central office staff managing grants and filling in where needed. These are just a few of the many challenges faced and conquered by members of Team Amelia. This year has not been easy. The ACPS School Board and I recognize the hard work of our team.”

“You could really feel that this was sincere, it was genuine, it was honest and that’s what made it more special too,” Harris said. "

“To me it felt like family,” Squire added. “It’s like we are family.”

The letter also said that ACPS will now close at 2 p.m. on Wednesdays as long as the current schedule stays in place.

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