The $1,500 check Canton High School nutrition services supervisor Colleen Berry received recently from the Michigan Lottery had nothing to do with luck.
The longtime P-CCS employee earned it by serving as one of the district’s behind-the-scenes heroes.
Berry was the recipient of a Michigan Lottery Excellence in Education award, a recognition honor that was started in 2014 to recognize outstanding public-school educators.
In addition to the $1,500 cash prize, Berry received a plaque and a $500 grant that can go to the school or the district.
Berry is one of 52 weekly winners who is eligible for a $10,000 prize that is awarded to the Lottery’s Educator of the Year.
“Colleen is one of those people we call an unsung hero,” said P-CCS Director of Food and Nutritional Services Kristen Hennessey. “I’m so excited she’s been recognized by the Michigan Lottery. Colleen is a graduate of P-CCS and her children all attended P-CCS schools, so her heart is in the district.”
Hennessey said Berry goes the extra mile to ensure the students who eat in the Canton High School cafeteria are well, both physically and emotionally.
“Colleen not only goes out of her way to make sure our children are nutritionally fed, but she watches out for kids who may be lost or in need of help,” Hennessey said. “I can’t tell you how many times she has called me and said, ‘I’m really concerned about this child. I’m going to go to the principal or counselor’.
“And before we know it, it was a struggling child who needed someone to notice that they needed help.”
Berry was her typically humble self when she accepted the award during a recent P-CCS board meeting held via Zoom.
“I am very honored and thankful to receive this recognition,” Berry said. “I couldn’t have done with without the support staff at Canton High School and the great food service team we have there.”
Berry has been instrumental is the distribution of meals to students in need during the COVID-19 crisis. One week alone this month, she helped pass out approximately 20,000 meals.
Each winner also is featured in a news segment on the Lottery’s media partner stations: WXYZ-TV in Detroit, FOX 17 in Grand Rapids, FOX 47 in Lansing, and WNEM-TV in Saginaw. The news segment featuring Berry will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
A colleague who nominated Berry for the awarded emphasized “her leadership and dedication to feeding students, and her ability to adapt to the challenges the school faced at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, Colleen had to change gears and turn into a new community service to provide food to these families difficult times,” the nomination said. “Having meals with fruit, vegetables, and milk available helped countless families during the school weeks while children had no school.
Berry has worked in the district’s food service department for 13 years, including three years as the cafeteria manager at Canton High School.
Contact reporter Ed Wright at email@example.com or 517-375-1113.
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