Woodlawn Elementary School secretary Andrea Anderson was a little confused when she was called to the gymnasium early Wednesday during the school’s morning announcements. Even more puzzling: the cheering students, coworkers and Lawrence Public Schools officials who had turned up that morning shortly before 8 a.m. to surprise Anderson with the district’s Class Act Award.
“I finally knew something was going on when they said, ‘We need Miss Andi in the gym,' and I was like, ‘I don’t ever go into the gym in the morning, so what’s going on?’” Anderson said with a laugh, reflecting on the surprise ceremony moments after being presented with the award by Superintendent Kyle Hayden.
Miss Andi, as she’s lovingly known among students and staff, also received a $200 check courtesy of Truity Credit Union as part of the honor. Each semester, the Lawrence school district selects one outstanding classified staff member for its Class Act Award, which honors those who foster cooperation and open communication, working effectively as a team, accomplishing professional tasks and goals, promoting trust and respect, and demonstrating leadership, accountability, a positive attitude, and a strong work ethic.
Woodlawn Principal Jeanne Fridell praised Anderson for the “warm, inviting tone” she has set for the school in her role as secretary. Always cheerful, “she welcomes each student and parent by name with a smile and with a fun, positive greeting,” Fridell said in a statement.
Katie Martino, a parent involvement facilitator at Woodlawn, said in a news release that Anderson “goes above and beyond every single day.” That means helping out with lunch duty when a cafeteria worker is sick, standing in at the school clinic if the nurse is out for the day, or simply assuring kids that it’s OK if they happen to show up late, Martino said.
Providing a space that feels like home for Woodlawn students, Anderson maintains, is a responsibility she takes seriously — but with a smile. Her favorite part of her job?
“The kids, absolutely,” Anderson said. “Seeing the kids, making sure that I greet all of them with a smile, making sure they feel welcome when they get here — because this is a really safe place for a lot of them.”
Anderson joined the Lawrence district as a substitute paraeducator in 2013. She is currently in her second year as Woodlawn’s secretary.