News and Tribune

March 4, 2014

In a class of her own: Support employee awarded at NA-FC schools

Linda Barnes, secretary of facilities, was given the Carol Atz Award

By JEROD CLAPP
jerod.clapp@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — She’s worked in the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. for nearly three decades.

Last week, she was recognized for her work with an award that bears the name of her friend.

Linda Barnes, secretary of facilities, was given the Carol Atz Award at the district’s annual Support Employee of the Year Banquet. From handling cafeteria finances, helping in a kindergarten special education class and other jobs, she said it’s an honor to be the first person to receive the newly named award.

“It’s extra special,” Barnes said. “I worked with Carol when I was a clerk at Mt. Tabor and in records, then I came over here and we became friends. She was such a wonderful person and a fun-loving, hard worker. I think she would have liked me to have it in some way.”

Atz, who was the district’s director of human resources, died in October. Barnes said she was close to her throughout her career at the district and was surprised to have won.

Sharon Jones, director of student programs and cultural responsiveness at NA-FC, said they wanted to commemorate Atz’s dedication and recognition of employees who help keep the district running.

“She understood you can’t run a building without those people,” Jones said. “They’re very important, from the custodians to the cafeteria workers. She really enjoyed having that dinner and talking to some of those people.”

Barnes has worked in her current position for about 4 1/2 years. But Bill Wiseheart, director of facilities, said it seems like she’s been a part of the office for longer than that.

“It seems like sometimes you sit here and lose track of time,” Wiseheart said. “She’s actually worn several hats over time.”

In facilities, Barnes helps to make sure repairs are scheduled through work orders and also has to prioritize some of those projects.

But knowing what to tend to immediately and what can wait is something that Wiseheart said takes a lot of experience. He said since Barnes knows what it’s like to work in the schools, she’s got a good hold on all of those issues.

“I think it’s very valuable to have someone who’s got experience inside the buildings,” Wiseheart said. “She knows the times of year that are stressful. As someone who works in the building, you know what it’s like around registration, around holidays, around those stressful times.

“It helps if you’re trying to understand if a light out in a classroom is routine or if it’s an emergency, depending on the time of year.”

He said she also makes sure schools are up to code with performing their scheduled drills, handles some of the human resources operations of the office and serves as a point of communication for callers and employees over the radio.

Jones said it was hard to narrow down the list of candidates from 20 to five, but even harder to choose the winner from that field.

But she said Barnes’ community work with her church, Angel Tree and other organizations helped them settle on her for the award.

“She was just very well-rounded,” Jones said. “Not only with what she does in the school system, but also with her work in the community. I think that’s what really stood out.”

Jones said while school employees are generally held in high regard, the ones who aren’t in classrooms sometimes get overlooked. But she said the award is a great way to recognize people who help students with their education, even if they’re not directly involved in the administration of it.

Having been inside and outside of the classroom, Barnes said she was proud to have been selected.

“I love my job, I’ve always had wonderful friends with the different positions I’ve been in,” Barnes said. “It’s just extra special to get the award.”