Everybody plays a vital role in the education of students. The Mansfield ISD Shining Star Award puts a spotlight on non-teaching staff members for their exceptional service and contributions to MISD students and staff members.
After submissions from the community, six employees were chosen to receive the Shining Star Award. This year’s Shining Star Award recipients are Linette Armstrong, Vonda Garms, Amber Jones, Tracy Langhorne, BreAnna Larry and Brenda Stewart. They often work behind the scenes, but their impact is felt throughout the district.
Linette Armstrong is the principal’s secretary at Charlene McKinzey Middle School. She has been employed by the district for 30 years.
Her goal and prayer is that during those years of service, administrators, co-workers, staff, students, families and guests to the campuses have genuinely felt cared for, valued and loved by her.
“She always strives to make a person’s day better,” said principal Dr. Matthew Herzberg. “I really feel like she comes to work every day hoping that she can help lift everyone’s spirits.”
Vonda Garms has worked for Mansfield ISD for 15 years—all of them in the Special Education Department. She is an instructional paraprofessional at The Phoenix Academy, where she works with high school students providing individualized attention to help them be successful.
“She’s that paraprofessional that everyone wants to have in their building,” said principal Regenia Crane. “It doesn’t matter what goes on at The Phoenix Academy. Her answer is always, ‘What can I do to help?’”
Garms noted that she enjoys working with her amazing team and exceptional administrators who make her feel valued every single day.
Amber Jones serves as a food specialist in the Mansfield High School kitchen. This is her third year working for the district. Her main duties include baking 700 personal pan pizzas to serve to hungry teenagers every school day.
“Amber is a very fun and energetic person,” said Rosie Hart, kitchen manager at Mansfield High School. “When she’s not here, we do have students come and ask for her and want to know when she’s coming back.”
Jones is a hard worker who always brings positive energy to the kitchen. She loves giving people a reason to smile.
Tracy Langhorne began working with MISD as a substitute teacher in 2015. She currently serves as a pre-K aide for the school.
She had previously spent many years as a pre-kindergarten teacher in private schools. When she was ready to return to full-time work, she found a home with the team at Erma Nash Elementary School.
“She’s probably the most patient person I have ever met,” said principal Kia Johnson-McAdams. “She’s willing to help anyone anywhere with whatever they need."
BreAnna Larry grew up in the Mansfield area and has worked for the MISD Transportation Department for more than eight years. During her time as a bus driver, she has enjoyed building trusting relationships with students while providing them with a safe and friendly environment.
“The kids just love her. They adore her because her personality just oozes from her,” said David Walker, director of transportation. “I believe she is the essence and the spirit of what this award is.”
For Larry, the most rewarding part of the job is starting the students’ mornings off with a bright and friendly smile to ensure they have a great start to their day.
Brenda Stewart has been employed as an MISD crossing guard for more than 10 years. She is on duty at her crosswalk on Walnut Creek Drive every morning and afternoon and couldn’t ask for a better place to work or community to serve.
“She just lights up whenever anyone comes by her,” said Chrystal Miller, attendance clerk at Brooks Wester Middle School. “I know that if it’s raining or shining, she’s out there welcoming everybody with a huge smile.”
Stewart is a proud mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She said she is grateful for the ongoing support from her supervisor and the MISD Police Department and staff.
The six winners were announced and recognized at the 2022 MISD Employee Awards Reception on Thursday, May 12.