When Norma Nelson walked through the doors of 110 W. Walnut Street for the Belton School Board meeting March 13, the scene was all too familiar. As a lifelong resident of Belton, this is the building she entered every day for 12 years as a student, graduating as valedictorian of her class.
This time, however, her purpose was quite different – to accept a special award from the Belton School District and Board of Education for her years of dedicated service as a volunteer.
Announcing the district’s first-ever Pirate Pride Community Partnership Award winner, Lisa Cummings, assistant superintendent of human resources, introduced Jeff Levy, principal of Kentucky Trail Elementary, and Amanda Spight, assistant principal, to present this special award to Nelson, an outstanding community member who has given in an extraordinary way to their school.
“We are very excited to have Norma Nelson with us in our building,” said Levy, explaining that she is endearingly known to the students as “Grandma Norma” or “Mrs. Claus" and volunteers every week in Ms. George’s room. "She reads to them, helps them, and eats lunch with them. We are excited to honor her with this wonderful award. Our kids love and adore her, and we all feel the same way."
An active member of the Belton Historical Society, Nelson thanked board members for the recognition and explained her work as a volunteer for the past 17 years in Belton Schools has been rewarding beyond measure.
"I am honored to accept this award," she said. “It’s not a job. The kids are wonderful. I love them."
Nelson told board members how honored she felt the previous Wednesday when she heard the news.
“When I walked down the hall on Wednesday I noticed it was kind of quiet,” she said. “Then I saw Ms. George stick her head out of the classroom and go back in quickly. When I walked through the doors all of the children began to clap, and I thought, ‘What is going on?’ Then one of them turned to her teacher and said, ‘Can we tell her?’ Then they all shouted, ‘You’re getting an award!’”
According to Nelson, this was a proud moment.
“I feel very humble standing before you today,” she said. “I have been a member of this community for a very long time. I just love Belton. I always have. It’s a wonderful town to live in.”
In other business, school board members handled several informational and action items, approving the schedule of bills and warrants, declaring designated weight equipment as surplus property, and hearing a 2014-15 staffing update, calendar update, and summer school update. Due to all of the snow days taken this year, summer school will be moved back a week to start on June 9.
The group also approved a new teacher evaluation system, heard a legislative update from Superintendent Andrew Underwood, and voted to accept resignations and retirements as presented and to offer employment to certified, non-certified, B schedule, and substitute teacher personnel.