By Ron Benningfield
Like so many other employees of LaRue County Schools, Shelia Skaggs’ focus is on what’s best for the district’s students.
“I believe my mission with the district is making sure that no child is hungry so they can learn,” said the Hodgenville Elementary School nutrition manager. “Just knowing I can make a difference in a child’s day gives me my greatest satisfaction.”
Perhaps that’s the reason Skaggs, who has dedicated the past 25 years of her life to that mission, was recently named the district’s first recipient of the Fred Award that honors an employee who possesses a trademark spirit of service, innovation, and commitment to others in a way that positively impacts the lives of those in the school community.
Skaggs, who grew up in Elizabethtown and graduated from East Hardin High School, has had food-related experiences since her early years when she cooked for herself and two brothers while her mother was away at work. While in high school, she worked at Burger King.
“Definitely a lot different than a school cafeteria,” she acknowledged.
When she started her career as a substitute cafeteria worker at Buffalo Elementary School in 1993, her initial reason for working there was to have the same schedule as her daughter who was then in the sixth grade and a two-year-old son who would attend school there.
“It was such a great job, though, that I never gave it up,” said Skaggs, who later worked at LaRue County Middle School and then at Hodgenville where she has been nutrition manager for the past 19 years.
“Every single day when she comes to work, she makes a positive difference in the lives of the students of our district,” Stephanie Utley, district food service director, said of Skaggs. “Her cafeteria is a safe place where students know they will always be greeted with a smile and a warm meal.”
The students she serves are often treated to seeing Skaggs and her HES cafeteria staff — Kay Howell, Cynthia Voltz, Shirley Handley, Alisha Willian, and Veleciti Sanchez — dressed in costume as they emphasize healthful snacks like popcorn or celebrate President’s Day by dressing in era attire complete with an Abe impersonator.
“We like to make it fun for the kids and our food service director works with us to get treats or banners or whatever we need to implement our ideas,” Skaggs said.
LaRue’s superintendent of schools, David Raleigh, said Skaggs will now be nominated for the state Fred Award given by the Kentucky Association of School Administrators in July.