CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It was an emotional meeting Wednesday for the Board of Education as the 2018 West Virginia Service Personnel Employee of the Year was named.
Jackie Cullers, an early childhood paraprofessional from Hardy County, received this year’s honor, and the Board agreed that she was extremely deserving of the award.
Dr. Steven L. Paine, state superintendent of schools, said that even after only meeting Cullers prior to the meeting, he knew she was exceptional.
“I am just amazed at this individual and all that she does– her commitment to children, to her colleagues, to her school system,” he said.
Cullers works in a kindergarten classroom at Moorefield Elementary School. Payne said she has been working to improve children’s lives for years.
“She’s been in the profession for 24 years,” he added. “She has an enormous heart for those children with whom she has served as a role model and a colleague in her school.”
Cullers is a single mother and, according to Payne, has a pretty busy schedule with all that she puts on her plate.
“She’s amazing. She has nine children: three biological children, four adopted children and two foster children– amazing,” he praised. “And, she’s starting a business. I don’t know how you’re going to do it all.”
Being named the 2018 West Virginia Service Personnel Employee of the Year had Cullers filled with emotion as she gave her acceptance speech. She began by thanking her family and her coworkers at Moorefield Elementary.
“I wouldn’t be standing her today if it wasn’t for my family and coworkers who have supported me along the way,” she said. “My entire life I have been surrounded by children. My love for kids started in high school when I volunteered lots of hours working with the special education program.”
Cullers said showing the example of kindness, integrity, compassion and understand is something she tries to lead by every day.
“Throughout my life, I was taught to lead by example. I choose to set a good example everyday for kids and the people around me,” she said, choking back tears. “I believe that no matter how educated, talented, rich or cool you believe you are, how you treat people ultimately tells it all.”
Last summer, Cullers experienced something no parent wants to.
“My 18-year-old daughter, Jurnee, was killed in a car wreck last summer,” she said. “I never, ever thought I would ever have to face something like that, but by the grace of God, I am moving forward, and I am now an advocate for organ donation.”
Cullers explained that she recently got to meet one of the recipients that received organs from her daughter and is now working to get more people to become donors.
Cullers closed out her speech with a message: “If you’re an organ donor, thank you for checking that spot,” she said. “If you are not, please think about it. One life can save eight other people’s lives.”
Courtesy of the Horace Mann Insurance Company, Cullers received a check for $2,000.
Story by Jordyn Johnson