Tommye Mathis, Cedar Ridge Elementary School's media specialist, is a critical part of her school's learning environment day-in and day-out, but she's taken on an even more important role during the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that forced students and staff into distance education for the final two months of this past academic year.
"With our school year ending so suddenly, (Mathis) decided to recognize each one of our fifth-graders by creating a slide with a picture and brief description, (then) presenting them in a 'fifth-grade spotlight,'" said Laurie Harless, an assistant principal at Cedar Ridge.
Additionally, Mathis led a virtual story time every Tuesday in June through Google Meet.
When school buildings shuttered in mid-March, Mathis "did not let that stop her from reaching out to students to keep them reading and learning," said Karey Williams, Whitfield County Schools assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. "She provided online learning opportunities and book read-alouds to her students."
"Mathis comes to work with a great attitude and works hard each day to help others" in her school and across the system, Williams added. "She is a lifelong learner and a leader in her field (who) believes that the media center should be a friendly, fun, interactive space for students and teachers."
It's no surprise Mathis is going above and beyond the call of duty during the pandemic, as "she is one of a kind," Harless said. "She does so much for our school each and every day."
Mathis is in charge of Cedar Ridge's morning news crew and morning announcement each day, Harless said. "She even continued airing 'virtual' morning announcements from her home during the quarantine."
She's coordinated numerous author visits to the school and "puts on two amazing book fairs each school year," Harless said. She's "very tech savvy and is always willing to help our staff with technology questions."
Mathis was a "Craftineers Craft Club sponsor and met with our craft club after school one afternoon each week," Harless said. Furthermore, "she always has neat contests/trivia games going on in the media center throughout the school year."
In addition, "she is in charge of our school Facebook page and keeps it up to date with announcements and 'shout outs,'" Harless said.
Furthermore, Mathis attended the International Literacy Association Conference this past year, where she met numerous authors, then brought that knowledge back to Cedar Ridge to share with her colleagues.
In addition to working "many hours beyond the regular workday," Mathis:
• Earned the Common Sense Educator (CSE) Certification and spearheaded the school-wide CSE Certification for Cedar Ridge.
• Was a presenter at the University of Georgia Children’s Literature Conference.
• Co-teaches with the school's counselor to deliver social and emotional learning lessons.
• Started a fifth-grade book club during lunch to engage readers.
• Earned mini-credentials across the spectrum of digital learning in several elements of digital learning.
Lastly, "on cold mornings, you could always find hot cider and/or hot chocolate in the media center to keep us warm," Harless said. "I could go on and on about Tommye."
For her varied and tireless efforts as Cedar Ridge's media specialist, the Daily Citizen-News names Tommye Mathis its Citizen of the Week.