WJCC Schools’ Heroes of Hope help others reach their hopes by offering a helping hand, a word of encouragement, or a little guidance. From small acts to grand gestures, these staff members make a difference in the lives of their students and colleagues.

These heroes do not look for applause or recognition. Their reward is in the student achieving a goal, completing a project, or making a colleague’s day a little easier. However, we think they deserve to be honored as the Heroes they are.

We celebrate three WJCC Schools Heroes of Hope the third week of every month during the school year— you can help us by sharing stories of the Heroes among us. To nominate a WJCC Schools employee as a Hero of Hope complete the form below.

2020-21 Heroes of Hope

Three Heroes of Hope are recognized on the third Friday of the month. Join our celebration on WJCC Schools’ social media channels and share your stories about the 2020-21 Heroes of Hope!

November Heroes of Hope

November 20th, 2020|

Thomas Hendrickson, Toano Middle School

Mr. Hendrickson goes above and beyond to help the students at Toano Middle School. He is a true maverick in the field of education. Mr. Hendrickson worked with both of my sons at the school and always made them feel special. He brought lessons to life for the boys and engaged them in varied hands-on activities. Since both of the boys are autistic, he used positive reinforcement consistently to help them feel successful, even when they were struggling with the curriculum. Mr. Hendrickson battled cancer while he was teaching and somehow never let that be a deterrent to his pursuit of excellence in his field. I am in awe of his courage to combat his illness, all the while meeting the needs of the children he worked with at school. Even when he was home or hospitalized, he kept in contact with the boys and let them know he was cheering them on. Truly inspirational. Mr. Hendrickson also worked with the boys after school in an Aviation Club. He made the subject come alive for the boys and inspired them to want to fly! Since he is also an accomplished pilot, they were thrilled to learn that they could fly along with him at a local airport. Needless to say, that memory will always be with them. As a retired educator, it gives me great pleasure to nominate Mr. Hendrickson as a WJCC Hero of Hope.


Jessica Minter, Laurel Lane Elementary School

Mrs. Minter is a phenomenal teacher. If you meet her once, pass her in the hall, or just hear how she talks to her students you will know that she is a different breed of teacher. Her positivity and constant drive to help her students succeed is what you notice immediately. Working alongside her you notice how she talks to the students. She talks to them like they are people whom she respects and values. You may think this is a normal occurrence for teachers however, it is not. She is a model teacher and exemplary human. She clearly loves what she does, she is excellent at it, and shine so brightly that she encourages others to shine as well.


Jorge Rivas, Central Office

Jorge is AWESOME!. He has assisted JRE in so many ways – assisting parents with OLR, IEP meetings, reaching out to help with follow-up calls to our EL parents regarding remaining paperwork/other items needed to complete enrollment requirements. I could not imagine not having Jorge. He is the best! He goes above and beyond! I do not know how he does it all, for all of our schools by himself.

October Heroes of Hope

October 16th, 2020|

Cathy Kaurich, Bright Beginnings, Norge Elementary School

Nominated By: Shannon Mitchell, WJCC Schools Staff

Cathy is definitely a Bright Beginnings HERO! She has worked at Bright Beginnings for what seems to be forever. She is an assistant at Norge Bright Beginnings but has also filled in at other locations in the past. She has worked summer school many times, as well. Cathy goes above and beyond for both students and staff in almost every classroom. She has always purchased toys, clothing, backpacks, birthday gifts, food, and whatever else you can possibly think of for our students (many students in our center). If she hears of a student or a teacher in need of an item or supplies, those items almost always “mysteriously” show up on the teacher’s desk the next day. She has been known to create birthday bags for multiple classes to give to each child on their birthday, filled with books and a toy. Cathy’s heart is always on other people. Whenever someone in our Norge Bright Beginnings family suffers the loss of a loved one, a star or tree planted “in memory of” shows up on that person’s desk. She participates in so many charity events, especially the ones for WJCC that benefit our students and community, such as walks to raise money and the Norge Relay for Life events. She amazes me with her energy to participate in sports, such as volleyball and many community walk races. She plays on the Norge Volleyball team, which amazes me after exhausting school days. She is always willing to lend a hand, idea and/or resources to anyone around her. To top all of this off, she has never missed a full day of work!  Anyone that knows Cathy at Norge Bright Beginnings, would say the same thing about her character and kind giving heart. She is truly a wonderful person and colleague.


Jen Smith, James River Elementary School

Nominated By: Heidi Meadows, WJCC Schools Staff

Jen Smith is a wonder-worker. I honestly don’t understand how she is able to accomplish all that she does in a day. She gives me hope that we can, and will, make a difference in the lives of our students. Jen facilitates several social skills groups, she does check-in/check-out with our most at-risk students, she helps families in trauma, she promotes positive discipline, and she does it all with a smile on her face. I am thankful every day that she is the counselor at our school.


Becky Walker, Jamestown High School

Nominated By: J. Harvey Stone, WJCC Schools Staff

Becky is the head custodian at Jamestown. She cares about our building, our staff, and above all our students. She establishes real relationships and is a great example for others in the ability to make meaningful relationships that add value to our organization.


Special Education Team

September 25th, 2020|

To conclude our Return to Learn Heroes of Hope celebration, we honor the educators who serve our special education students and their families. The challenges presented by a pandemic and remote learning are huge for special education, WJCC Schools’ special education team confronted them head-on.


Over the summer, the special education team determined how to best serve students whose needs are highly individualized. They connected with families to provide information specific to their children. They provided training for case managers on new curriculum, health considerations and regulations. They identified resources to minimize student sharing and contact.


The team developed a safe and secure evaluation process that worked so well, it is now a model for other assessment opportunities in our schools.


Special education staff knew it would be essential to offer in-person learning to many of the students they served, so they dedicated themselves to making that happen. We are proud to say that specific populations of students have begun safe and engaging in-person learning thanks to this amazing team of educators.


Our Special Education Heroes of Hope are:

Stacia Barreau

Peter Grabowski

Courtney Fuller

Susan Grainer

Sarah Copeland

BethAnne Klaver

Suzie Yeats

Shannon Williams

Johnnie Underwood

Zebrina Taylor

Technology Integration Coaches

September 18th, 2020|

Technology Integration Coaches (TICs) have gone the extra mile to make WJCC Schools’ Return to Learn possible. They are delivering professional development to instructional staff and distributing devices to families. They are also supporting teachers as we all adapt to remote learning. Bright Beginnings, who typically do not require much TIC support, tell us that their TICs have been exceptionally attentive and made sure staff have the support they need to be there for kids.


One of our high school teachers summed it up best when explaining why TICs are heroes: “They are the driving force for the sanity of all teachers.”


To all our TICs, thank you for being Heroes of Hope for our teachers and therefore, our students.


Technology Team

September 11th, 2020|

From responding to an emergency shift to remote teaching, learning, and working to preparing for a school year that will rely on technology more than ever before, Technology team members are diligent, often unseen, Heroes.  

The networking team is expanding our network, ordering remote hotspots for students in need of internet access, and ensuring all the technical back-end operations are ready for students to fire up their laptops and start learning. 

Cary Crum has been amazing, working with manufacturers to find laptops in a Covid-19 world where supply chains are disrupted, and devices are nearly impossible to find. His team is making preparations to support our students and staff in remote learning. 

Speaking of supporting students and staff in remote learning, Aindrea Estes has reconfigured TekConnect to ensure our helpdesk team is ready to respond to technology issues to keep students learning, teachers teaching, and staff working. 

Our enterprise team has created new schools in Synergy for the WJCC Virtual Academy and worked with the instructional team to ensure students are appropriately enrolled and ready for day one. 

Lastly, but certainly not least – Kristin Barr and Pattie Bowen have worked across all departments to make sure courses are ready for teachers and students, content can be delivered, and devices are ready to support instruction. 

We salute our Heroes in the Technology Department for making online learning and work possible this year. 

Operations Team

September 10th, 2020|

The entire Operations Team has been working nonstop to provide for our students and families and get our division ready for the school year. Every day, they are involved in work that is critical to our current and future success.  

Custodians are on the front lines of the essential effort to create safe and healthy environments for students and staff. They are preparing buildings and implementing new protocols, while under intense scrutiny. They will provide extra layers of cleaning and sanitizing daily and will mobilize should deep cleaning response be necessary.  

If you stop to speak to any member of the custodial team, you get a smile and pleasant conversation— proof that these folks are vital to our organization in more ways than just keeping our space clean and safe. No matter how hard their work or how late the hour, they offer a bit of heart, humor, and care. 

These teams reflect the exceptional leadership provided by Brian Weaver, Julie Jones, Michael Pittman, and Howard Wallace. 

Every time you enter a building, remember that our custodial team’s Heroes have made sure you are in a safe, sanitized, and hopeful space. 

Grab & Go has become the face of Operations and a regular opportunity for families and staff to connect. Jane Haley has led this multifaceted effort that involves child nutrition, custodial, and transportation staff. Three days a week, whether it is cold and rainy or hot and humid, these crews are there to hand out meals, smiles, and encouragement to our school families. They have formed communities, knowing that the driver of that red sedan has been going through a rough time and needs a word of support, or the student in the van had a birthday and deserves an extra cheer.  

For providing more than 144,037 breakfast and lunch meals and immeasurable goodwill since March, our Grab & Go teams are Heroes of Hope. 

Thank you, Operations, for keeping us going year-round. 

We will recognize three Heroes of Hope every month during the school year.
All nominations will be reviewed by the WJCC Schools Employee Appreciation Committee. Nominees must be current full-time employees in good standing.