The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 22, 2013

School service personnel honored

By C.V. Moore
Register-Herald Reporter

OAK HILL — When Char-les Knight retires this summer after 38 years of service to Mount Hope Elementary School, he will have accrued almost two years of sick days. And over the years, he’s given away 200 of those days to colleagues who needed them.

“People say I’m married to the building,” says Knight, a custodian.

Fayette County Schools evidently feels grateful for the partnership. On Thursday, the school system honored Knight with a Service Employee of the Year Award.

“These people represent our best,” Fayette County Schools Operations Director Ron Cantley said of all the award nominees. “These are people that model the traits we want everyone to show.”

Knight is admired by colleagues for his dedication, work ethic, and willingness to “go above and beyond,” said Cantley.

His real wife, Linda, has high praise too.

“That man wouldn’t miss a day of work for nothing. I believe he was driven because he loves people and loves to help people. Money, time, help — anything — he stands up and gives it and he doesn’t ask for anything back. I think that’s a good man,” she said.

“God is good. This is for Mount Hope Elementary and my father, who taught me to be good to everybody and work hard,” Knight said upon accepting the award.

He also thanked his church, his wife, and members of the Spadaro family.

Born in Kaymoor, Knight lives in Oak Hill but spent much of his life in Mount Hope. After brief stints as a coal miner and a postal worker, he settled into his job in the schools, where he spent his career in service to the children of his local community. Ironic, given that he almost didn’t finish school himself.

At the awards banquet, he wore beautiful bright yellow patent leather shoes in celebration.

Linda says she sees a lot of yard work and flower planting in her husband’s retirement future, and hopes he doesn’t “go mad” because of the separation from his job.

Other finalists for the award included Neva Martin, an aide at Rosedale Elementary; Jackie Mollohan, a secretary at the central office; and Leon Shrewsberry, who works in the transportation department of the central office.

“I truly believe we’re on the edge of making big progress in Fayette County and I’m optimistic about our future. If we do, it’ll be people like you that cause it to happen,” Cantley told banquet attendees, who dined on a meal prepared and served by Pro-Start students at Fayette Institute of Technology.

Fayetteville Junior Wo-men’s Club provided gifts for the winners, and Gordon McClanahan of the West Virginia Service Personnel Association offered the keynote address.

“I hate to hear service personnel say, ‘I’m just service personnel. I’m just the little guy.’ Folks, you’re needed. You’re necessary to make the entire education system complete,” McClanahan told award nominees.

“What you do in your job every day, helping shape a child’s mind, is very previous. Take pride in your job, and people will notice.”

— E-mail: cmoore@register-herald.com