Superintendent Lynn Plunkett, who handed out the end-of-year Distinguised Service Awards at the monthly board meeting Tuesday, May 3, praised Pryor’s effort to get a new playground for her students, saying the teacher does too many special things to list.
“Penny is like the grant writing queen of the world,” said Plunkett. “Penny will write a grant and then call and tell you we got it.”
The playground project started when Pryor wrote a grant application for the Pepsi Refresh Project. Once the community — as well as other people from 26 states and four countries — got behind the idea, online voting took off, and McHenry’s playground project leaped to the head of the pile. In the end, the school won $25,000 from Pepsi.
Then came the donations from private citizens, churches and businesses around town. That additional money allowed Pryor to add extra elements to the playground she had not planned on. A ribbon cutting ceremony was conducted in November last year.
Plunkett also presented other employees with the year-end awards. An outside committee was given information about monthly Distinguished Service Award winners throughout the year and asked to pick an overall winner. From those, the employee of the year was chosen.
The year-end Distinguished Services award winners were Pepperell Elementary Principal Laura Timberlake for administrator; central office building maintenance specialist Danny Langford for system support; Cave Spring Elementary’s Dianne Franks for school support; Pepperell Elementary’s Janie Shiflett for school support certified; Johnson Elementary’s Ron Jones for maintenance personnel; Johnson’s Melissa Carroll for school secretary; Pryor for primary/elementary teacher; Alison Burkhalter of the College and Career Academy for middle/high teacher; and Cave Spring Elementary bus driver Mike Barnes for transportation.