Posted Date: 01/23/2024
George Welch Elementary’s Malcolm Gay was selected as a finalist for the 2024 Louisiana Department of Education Outstanding Support Employee Award.
The Special Education Paraprofessional won Support Person of the Year for the Ouachita Parish School District in October and moved on to the state competition. Gay is the first Support Person in Ouachita Parish to be named a finalist for the state.
“I thank God for blessing me to walk through the doors of George Welch Elementary each day to greet and interact with our scholars,” Gay said. “To be named a Top 10 finalist out of 1300 schools in the state of Louisiana is humbling as well as incredibly and breathtakingly amazing. I am beyond grateful for this honor and vow to continue to be the one who seeks to reach, teach, inspire, uplift, and encourage every student that is in my path. Thankful seems so small, my heart is overflowing with joy.”
Gay’s job responsibility is working individually with one student who struggles with behavioral issues and academic needs. However, he takes his job even further by connecting with every student that crosses his path.
“He has taught this student and others so much about manners, showing respect to others, patience and self-control,” said George Welch Principal Veronica Wood. “I have seen him working with other students when work is difficult and talking and listening to them when they want to share a happy story or something that is troubling them.”
Gay also serves as an asset to the entire George Welch family. He volunteered to serve as the school’s United Way representative and will serve as the King for the Kindergartners’ King and Queen Day this Friday.
“The most rewarding thing about my job is being able to engage with scholars and connecting with them, offering my support, encouragement and help with whatever they need, especially those who are struggling and/or being overwhelmed and sometimes overlooked,” Gay said. “Also, celebrating small wins especially when they felt like wins were impossible.
Gay and the other finalists will travel to Baton Rouge in April for the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) meeting where the Overall Louisiana Department of Education Outstanding School Support Employee of the Year will be named. Support Employees include teacher aides, paraprofessionals, school bus drivers, food service workers, clerical workers, custodial/maintenance workers or any other school support employee classification.
“For me, Malcolm fits the title of "support personnel" because that is exactly how he makes me feel, supported,” said fourth grade teacher Tabitha Reynolds. “He supports me in and out of the classroom. I know I can count on Malcolm to jump in and help me in the classroom any time of the day.”
From the Louisiana Department of Education:
The LDOE recognizes that outstanding school support staff are critical to school success. Annually, the Department recognizes and celebrates some of the state’s most exceptional school support staff through the Outstanding School Support Employees award program. This program provides the opportunity to acknowledge those support employees who have rendered time and talents beyond the call of duty. These staff exemplify Louisiana’s best in the education profession and play an integral role in school and student success.
Selections were based on the following criteria: display of outstanding leadership qualities in inspiring or motivating others, evidence of service or achievement above and beyond what is expected in the usual school operation, professionalism in her or her role as a support to the operation of the school, in addition to other specific factors such as skill and dedication, plans to continue active employment, respect and rapport with students, respect of and rapport with parents, respect of and rapport with coworkers, and community leadership.