Public Service Recognition Week is May 3-9, and Atlanta Public Schools proudly salutes those frontline heroes who have gone above and beyond the call of duty during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organized annually by the Public Employees Roundtable, this weeklong observation honors the men and women who serve our nation as federal, state, county and local government employees.
APS bus drivers, police officers, crossing guards, school nurses and Information Technology staff are among the hundreds of staff members who continue to help keep us safe while serving on behalf of our students, their families and the entire APS community.
From distributing food at school sites, loading buses and delivering books to supporting technology needs and distributing devices, each of these frontline heroes are working to ensure that students and their families’ needs are met during these unprecedented times.
School nurses have also served at volunteer sites assessing temperatures of all volunteers and staff reporting to food distribution sites, while monitoring social distancing, and ensuring adherence with use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) of all volunteers.
“Our nurses are selflessly committed to their profession and putting APS students first,” said Valencia Hildreth, APS comprehensive health services manager.
According to APS Police Chief Ronald Applin, officers and crossing guards are doing everything from helping to prepare meals, loading meals on buses and trucks, and passing out meals in neighborhoods, all while continuing to provide service to the District at the same time.
“Dispatchers, police officers and crossing guards have been here every day since the start of the pandemic, working hard to make sure our schools and other buildings are safe and secure when staff and students return,” Chief Applin said. “The food distribution has been an eye opener for this team. Many could not have imagined the large number of our students who would go without meals if it were not for this food distribution.”
John Franklin, executive director of transportation, praised the teamwork among supervisors, dispatchers, fleet mechanics, bus operators, and food site captains who all helped load buses, deliver books and make food runs.
Franklin said that among those who deserve special thanks for their tireless commitment include: Jackie Krane, database analyst, who created 55 dual-tier runs; administrative assistants Shermon Roberson and Shannon Astin, who took runs and created sequence lists; and Sandy Asemota, a dispatcher, who checked in the operators and helped communicate with the bus operators by radio.
He also lauded bus operators for their tireless effort and selfless devotion to the food distribution program.
“Our bus operators have been dedicated, diligent and caring about this effort,” Franklin said. “Many of them are serving families and students in locations where they either personally live or drive a bus route, so there is a deep and passionate connection to this food distribution mission. This includes some of our newest bus operators to one of our most senior bus operators, Mr. Charles Brown, who are all working on food distribution.”
In addition to transportation staff, Information Technology employees have also played an integral role during the pandemic.
“Technology team members are especially on the frontlines and have consistently been interacting with teachers, parents and the community in the effort to support technology needs and to distribute devices,” said Olufemi Aina, executive director of Information Technology.
“Even when many have been reluctant to put themselves in harms way with this pandemic, these individuals have exemplified hard work and professionalism while providing direct support to the public at the central office and IT warehouse locations,” Aina added.
Chief Applin also praised the efforts of the National Guard and two other frontline heroes: APS Police Commanders Curtis Adams and Taras Holloman.
“They have been working sun up to sun down making sure everything is running smoothly,” Applin said. “Crossing Guard Robert Richardson has also been a great help at Phoenix Academy (formerly Alonzo A. Crim Open Campus High School).”
“The reality of COVID-19 hit home after two officers tested positive,” Applin said. “It was humbling to see the team continuing to work despite the risks, and it’s good to know that there are people out there who can be counted on to run toward the danger for our kids.”