Sandra Davis is LCSC Employee of the Year
As Food Service Manager at Liberty County’s Early Learning Center, Sandra Davis finds herself doing more than cooking for her young diners, who can be a bit picky.
“They learn better on a full stomach than an empty one,” she said. “I try to make sure I have something everybody will eat so they don’t go home hungry.”
She uses some gentle encouragement to convince the pre-school age children to try what’s on their plate.
Pizza and spaghetti days are easy. She learned the hard way that the four-and-five-year-olds that pass through her serving line this year won’t eat chicken pot pie but found a way to work around it. She used the same ingredients to make chicken nuggets with vegetables and mashed potatoes. They eat that without complaint. “They get the same thing, it’s just in a different form,” she said.
When a child balks over what’s served that day, she urges them “Just try it.” Once they’ve made the effort but still push their plate away, she goes to her back up plan - a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “Almost every kid likes that,” she said.
Luckily, this year they’ve not had any youngsters with peanut allergies but she is aware of the foods some of the children might react to. One of the students at the preschool can’t have scrambled eggs; another youngster doesn’t eat meat. The latter is more of a preference by the parents but she respects their wishes and ensures that child gets meatless pizza or spaghetti and makes other substitutions as needed
She and Martha Jane Jacobs prepare breakfasts as well as lunches, serving around 90 people each day. “We’re kind of one big happy family there,” she said. “Everybody works together and everybody gets along.”
When asked about what made Davis a candidate for Employee of the Year, a co-worker commented, “Mrs. Sandy holds a very special place in our heart. She is always smiling and loves the students she serves.”
After a busy day of cooking, serving and encouraging reluctant children to clean their plate, the 63-year-old widow goes home to her own full house. She lives with her daughter, Jamie Davis, and her two young sons, along with a great-granddaughter, a three-year-old girl who attends the Early Learning Center. She also has three more grandchildren and four other great-grandchildren. She’s also quick to point out that she also has five step-grandchildren.
Her days start early. She’s the one who drops off the grandkids to Tolar and Liberty County High School before arriving at the Early Learning Center with the last child. She repeats the process each afternoon before finally making it home.
“The best thing about my job? “I’m at school when the kids are at school; I’m at home when they’re at home.” She appreciates that “I can work yet I still get to see my kids all the time.”
She worked in the lunchroom at Tolar before moving over to the Preschool nine years ago. The faces passing through the lunchroom line over the past 17 years have not only included her grandchildren but a future son-in-law. She recalls how Cameron Page, who is now engaged to her granddaughter, Sandra Miller, came through her serving line when he was just a third-grader at Tolar. Now that he’s grown and will join the family in April, she’ll probably see him around her table at home as well when the family gathers for holidays.
She expects to retire in Sept. of 2020 after 20 years with the Liberty County School District. “I’m going to miss them when I go,” she said about the children she feeds every day.
What advice would she give the person who takes over her job? It’s simple, she said: “Just love the kids and take care of them.”