1 day when Hanson Elementary School was shorter on team throughout the COVID pandemic, Gayla Hager located herself on your own in the kitchen area with more than 450 foods to prepare.
That was around 115 breakfasts and 360 lunches, mentioned Hager, the school’s Food items Assistance guide. She concentrated on preparing a single major program for lunch and “just got it accomplished.”
“When you have to get the kids fed you just get the kids fed,” reported Hager, who has labored in foods assistance for the Ramona Unified College District for 18 several years, together with 10 several years at Hanson Elementary. “So lengthy as you are structured and have a schedule and keep track of the time, your working day will movement efficiently.”
Her robust get the job done ethic, can-do mind-set and nurturing character with the little ones are just a couple of of the reasons Hager was selected as a person of nine California Categorised College Workers of the Calendar year in 2022. She is also one of two California nominees for a countrywide Recognizing Inspiring College Workforce (Rise) Award.
Hager stands out as an exemplary college food support experienced in both her child-pleasant solution to consumer assistance and her stellar function functionality, even in the course of complicated situation, explained Tony Thurmond, state superintendent of general public instruction.
“Gayla has perfected the equilibrium among regulatory compliance and joyful, properly-fed college students,” Thurmond mentioned in a press launch. “Gayla learns students’ specific likes and dislikes so she can confidently represent them at districtwide menu scheduling meetings … Gayla reinforces well mannered manners and kindness in her cafeteria in an effort and hard work to unfold positivity through the campus.”
Hager achieved Thurmond for the duration of a recognition luncheon for the statewide Categorised Staff members of the 12 months in Sacramento on Might 19. She stated it was a once-in-a-lifetime expertise. Thurmond gave a speech and announced the awards, whilst Hanson Elementary Principal Chris Gunnett gave an introductory speech about Hager.
Gunnett explained Hager as an astounding worker who offers so substantially to the pupils every working day. She appreciates the learners by identify when they occur via the cafeteria. And she generally has the cafeteria decorated for the seasons to supply a warm and welcoming atmosphere, Gunnett said.
“Gayla’s place is instrumental in allowing our learners to be successful in class,” he explained. “A entire belly with nutritional foodstuff gives them electricity all through the day and will allow them to be engaged in their academics and understanding.
“Gayla also goes out of her way to aid our Hanson relatives,” he extra. “She constantly asks us if we ate each individual day. She attends all of our faculty-similar functions to help our Hawks. But most of all, Gayla serves our pupils every and each and every working day with her coronary heart. We are so fortunate to have these kinds of a unique girl below at Hanson.”
Hager, 60, has been in the foods-assistance sector for many many years. Just before coming to Ramona Unified, 1st as a foods provider 1 staff at Mt. Woodson Elementary School for a few-and-a-half several years, then as a food services lead at Ramona Neighborhood Campus for five many years, and lastly as a food stuff company direct at Hanson Elementary for 10 decades, Hager co-owned a restaurant in Ramona with her spouse, Dave Hager, for 17 yrs.
The Previous Telephone Business Restaurant was at the corner of Seventh and Key streets. The delicacies was contemporary California with all the menu goods built from scratch, such as the soups and desserts, she explained.
But doing the job at school cafeterias is one thing that Hager enjoys, primarily the chance to get to know the little ones.
“Most of the sales opportunities in Ramona who have been at a web site for five to 10 many years get to know the children, and know what they like and do not like,” Hager stated. “We get to rejoice their joys and hug them when they’re crying. It’s so remarkable to contact their lives each working day. You literally get to check out them increase up.”
The past several months have been a whirlwind of surprises for Hager — she received the faculty district’s 2022-23 Categorised Personnel of the Yr in March, adopted by the similar title in San Diego County in early April and then in the point out on Might 5.
Hager remembers the day Gunnett walked into the cafeteria and mentioned he necessary to check with her a query outdoors. He and Ramona Unified Superintendent Theresa Grace and other administrators gave her bouquets, a $1,000 look at and smiles and hugs for the district award.
“I was thoroughly blown absent,” she stated. “I was not expecting that at all, not in the least. I started crying — they were being tears of joy, tears of complete, ‘Oh my gosh I are unable to believe that that I was preferred.’”
In April, Gunnett came into the cafeteria and told Hager he had a issue about how the little ones have been lining up. He asked her to action outside the house to talk about it.
“I arrived about the corner and all the directors were there with balloons and flowers,” Hager recalled. “I asked Chris, ‘Is this for San Diego County?’ and he said, ‘Yes, you had been picked out for all of San Diego’ and I started off crying.
“It was these an honor to be picked to represent Ramona Unified and then to be selected for San Diego. You really do not hope these points to come about to you. You’re just an everyday person, undertaking your occupation and residing your existence.”
By the time she received the phone about the condition award, Hager mentioned she felt “completely overwhelmed and humbled.”
“It’s definitely tough to place into phrases when you are presented this kind of an honor,” she mentioned.
On Might 12, Ramona Unified trustees proclaimed Friday, May well 13 as Gayla Hager Day in the district and awarded her a important to the district.
The next day, Hanson Elementary celebrated with a Hanson Hurrah Assembly. Just about every course designed a large poster in her honor, with some of the pupils earning smaller sized posters. With college students and workers collected in a circle on the blacktop, Gunnett manufactured a speech about Hager.
The honors and awards, which involve an engraved glass plaque from the state, are a worthwhile stop to her profession. Right after obtaining the cafeteria located at the start of the following school year, Hager ideas to retire on Sept. 2, just two months ahead of her 61st birthday on Sept. 16.
“I seriously adore what I do,” she said. “I’m genuinely blessed to perform at these a good university. The young children are the coronary heart of it all.”