Monika Griner, our State Agency Area Consultant serving School Nutrition Programs in Southwest Georgia shared this heartwarming encounter from the field. She titled it "I Met a Hero Today", telling the story of the resilience of Georgia School Nutrition Professionals.
You'll want to read to the end.
I met a hero today when I met Mrs. Dianne Shiver with Mitchell County School Nutrition. Dianne is the Assistant Manager at Mitchell County Elementary School where she has served students for 26 years and was honored frequently for perfect attendance. As many School Nutrition staff often do, she started off as a substitute in the kitchen and never looked back. The job, the people, and the benefits were perfect for her as her two small children entered elementary school life. Those same children ask her now almost daily, “Mama, are you not ready to retire?” Her response, “When the Lord tells me I’m through.”
Ms. Dianne was born in Louisiana. I do not recall hearing Louisiana Creole in her voice, but it was easy to recognize the true Southern graciousness in her kind smile and humble spirit. She and her husband of 44 years are the proud parents of seven children, 17 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. Family is most important to Ms. Dianne as was evident when she beamed while calling each by name, and as she counted them on her fingers to not leave anyone out. Those same fingers that help prepare meals each day for hungry students, assist with meal counts, prepare required paperwork, receive and stock inventory, wash dishes, and perform many other crucial tasks that School Nutrition Professionals undertake every day while feeding students. Ms. Dianne was quick to say that implementing the use of the computer was one of the biggest changes for her over the last 26 years, but as the profession and the way School Nutrition Professionals work have evolved, so too has she. Ms. Dianne remains among the scores of School Nutrition Professionals in Mitchell County and across Georgia who continue to demonstrate resilience and growth as they provide best-in-class service to our students.
The love and support extended to her from her co-workers, students, teachers, and friends make coming to work a true joy for Ms. Dianne. She said seeing the children’s faces never grows old; she has watched many generations pass through her serving lines, only to come full circle, as they hold the hands of the next generation of students entering the door. Her hardest days have been the most recent, when COVID-19 created school closures and she faced the worry of not seeing her students across their school meal lines. She is affectionately known as “Grandma” to all students who greet her while she provides their delicious meals. One special moment each student looks forward to, in the Mitchell County Elementary School Cafeteria, is their birthday! For on this day, they get to ring a bell on Ms. Dianne’s line and when they do, she has a gift waiting. “All children should feel special on their birthday”, Ms. Dianne said.
“Ms. Dianne has always been a joy to work with from day one. She loves people and she especially loves her students. She is always decorating her serving line to match the season and was responsible for decorating the School Nutrition Christmas Parade float. Her many years of service to our program and community is appreciated.”, stated Julie Tucker, retired Mitchell County School Nutrition Director.
“Dianne Shiver is a very nice, happy, and warm spirited lady who loves her job and the kids. She is very dedicated and devoted to her coworkers and her duty.”, offered Kimberly Emanuel, Mitchell County Elementary School Cafeteria Manager.
Mrs. Dianne Shiver is not only focused on her work in the cafeteria, she has also served as a Sunday School teacher for many, many years, cares for her Yorkie Terrier “Trina”, loves to fish and decorate, and for the first time in her over seven decades of being young…she and her husband took their first trip to Walt Disney World and Sea World. I am most certain it was a “magical” experience for Ms. Dianne as she and her prince charming soared through the Magic Kingdom.
I met a Hero when I met Mrs. Dianne Shiver, still an extraordinary School Nutrition Professional at 73 years old and counting.