Staff makes difference at schools

Lorrie Cartret is just one of those who work behind the scenes at area schools.
Lorrie Cartret is just one of those who work behind the scenes at area schools.

While teachers are a core part of every school, those behind the scenes are too often forgotten. The teacher’s aide is the helping hands of the classroom. Bus drivers are charged with keeping their children safe twice a day. Support staff keep the buildings clean and running. And the cafeteria staff ensures no one is hungry. 

Becky Williamson has been with Columbus County Schools for the last nine years. Her career began at South Columbus High School. She migrated to Chadbourn Elementary, and when the school was closed, she went to Evergreen Elementary for a year. Becky is now with Cerro Gordo Elementary, but she isn’t a teacher. She’s a Language Facilitator and a Teacher’s Assistant. She and teacher Teri Soles work with children with special needs in grades six through eight.

Becky is also a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) with Allied Health in Whiteville. When Becky sees a need with one of the children, or with one of her elderly clients, it’s not uncommon for her to fill that need out of her own pocket.  

She cleans up messes on the child or in the classroom, and is often the one who steps in when a student needs some personal attention. When it comes to children with special needs, it takes an exceptional person to do the delicate job. That happens to be one of Becky’s favorite aspects of the job.

 “My favorite part of the job is when a kid just isn’t getting it, and then it clicks. We work on it, and work on it, and then they have that ‘ah ha’ moment. I love to see it when their faces light up.”  

Teacher’s aides aren’t the only ones outside of the spotlight at Cerro Gordo Elementary. William Verne, Larry Williams, and Gary Nichols are to thank for providing the elbow grease that brings the shine on the surfaces of the school. They clean windows and doors, bathrooms and classrooms – a vital job all the time, but especially during the pandemic.  

Teri Nichols, a teacher at Cerro Gordo elementary, with Gary Nichols and Becky Williamson, a teacher’s aide.

Bus drivers are another sometimes forgotten group. Jimmy Clemons is one of those who takes responsibility for ushering students back and forth to Cerro Gordo Elementary. He’s often up early, and has a longer schedule than other staff members because he’s also taking the children home.  

Every school needs a well-managed cafeteria staff, and Williams Township Elementary has just that. 

Assistant Cafeteria Manager Tiffany Stewart has been with Columbus County Schools for the last 13 years, and the last 10 years of her career have been spent cooking for the children.  

Tiffany’s career started in 2008 at Hallsboro Elementary where she was a substitute teacher and a bus driver. She made a short hop and skip over to Hallsboro Middle to take up the Assistant Cafeteria Manager position, and was there until last year when the school closed its doors to students for the final time. 

This was Tiffany’s first year with Williams, and she is thrilled to continue her career with the school. 

“I love to cook. I love the satisfied faces of the children after a meal, knowing they aren’t going home hungry, and no one is left behind when it comes to having a good meal to enjoy. I have always loved children, and I love seeing them smile.”  

Tiffany says credit for the success of the kitchen goes to manager Melissa Dial, and fellow staff members Lorrie Carteret, Ruby Kelly, Betty Bellamy, and staff trainer Selina Gore, with a special emphasis on Phyliss Williams, who is a retired hairdresser turned cafeteria worker.
Ms. Phyliss is in her 70s and considered a valuable member of the team as well as a friend to all. Not only are these ladies co-workers, but they have become close friends, even celebrating birthdays and milestones together.  

Selina Gore, Melissa Dial, Betty Bellamy, Ruby Kelly, Phyllis Williams and Tiffany Stewart of Williams Township.
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