You’ve all heard the old adage, “A friend in need, is a friend indeed”, right? Well, this past week, I found myself as a friend with a real need. You see, last week we were shorthanded at a couple schools with our Child Nutrition Program (CNP) staff based off of a couple positive COVID results within our lunchroom staff, which resulted in a quarantine of those who had met the criteria for exposure, which included much of our CNP staff. Out of an abundance of caution and following all guidelines, we directly communicated with any and all individuals who met the criteria for direct exposure as defined by the ADPH and CDC, which did not include any students. With only one school isolating-while still challenging- we could pitch in, prepare and serve hot meals to our students at that location. This really gave us the opportunity to all pitch in and support one another during this time. Those helping out included assistant superintendents, principals, assistant principals, teachers, counselors, break store workers, secretaries, substitutes, and myself. These fine folks all chipped in to support our students and one another and gave us an even better appreciation for the CNP staff at our local schools.

Once the second school CNP staff was required to quarantine, I found myself in real need, and about the same time, I received a call from Mr. Jim Cunningham, Superintendent of Fort Payne City Schools. Receiving a call from Mr. Cunningham is nothing new, as we often discuss educational topics and how we can better support our schools and communities, but this time was certainly different as I shared with him the trouble we had been and still were facing with our CNP situation. He quickly told me that he was going to do some checking and would be right back in touch. Around ten minutes later, I received a follow-up call from Mr. Cunningham letting me know he had me covered and that the CNP staff of Fort Payne City Schools and, specifically, Fort Payne High School would be able to assist us in providing lunch for our students at one of our schools. When we arrived to pick them up the next day, the CNP staff at FPHS had everything packaged are ready to be served to our students.

With that all being said, I want to thank Mr. Cunningham, Mrs. Laran Adkins, CNP and Transportation Director; Mr. Jett, FPHS Principal; Mrs. Tina Broyles, FPHS CNP Manager; and CNP staff members Joy Farmer, Teresa Hicks, Heather Nadolny, Susanna Orozco, and Jessica Wisener. (I apologize if I’ve left anyone out.) You rose above the call of duty to help out our students in DeKalb County when it was not necessary and, through this, proved what committed and dedicated professionals you all are and the compassion you have for students within our collective communities. I am thankful for your service and hope that I can repay your commitment one day.

Jason Barnett, DeKalb County Schools  Superintendent

Send letters to the Times-Journal by writing P.O. Box 680349, Fort Payne, AL 35968. Fax 256-845-7459. Email emily.kirby@times-journal.com.

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