Third-grade students gathered in the Carus Elementary School cafeteria earlier this month to cheer as Health Assistant Melinda Ross received the Canby Area Recognition of Excellence (CARE) Award.
“When you’re hurt, when you’re emotionally upset, when you’re having a hard day, we know we can count on Ms. Melinda,” Carus Principal Sam Thompson said during the surprise announcement. “She brightens all of your days, she brightens our day, and that’s why she got nominated for this.
“And I think it’s a good example for all of us as we think about how we want to treat people, how we want to be in school, how we want to live our lives. She is a great example of being caring and kind and taking care of other people.”
Ross joined Carus Elementary School in the spring of 2021 and jumped right in, quickly becoming an “indispensable” employee, according to district officials. She was hired in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, but Carus staff members who nominated her said the scope of her work and daily impact extend far beyond that.
To the students she serves, “Ms. Melinda” is a beloved and trusted adult to whom they can turn for needs outside of physical health, her colleagues say, whether they are a kindergartner or first-grader struggling with the transition to a new school or a sixth-grade student experiencing a panic attack.
After the initial surprise at Carus, Melinda was honored later at the monthly school board meeting, where she received a plaque and a gift basket in recognition of her work from local businesses and organizations like chief sponsors Kiwanis and Columbia Bank.
Canby Kiwanis established the CARE Award to provide opportunities to recognize individual teachers, counselors, coaches and other school staff who make a difference in the lives of others and in the community.
The prospective recipients must be nominated, and the honoree or honorees are then decided by a CARE committee made up of Kiwanians and other community members. Canby Kiwanis and the Canby School District typically honor a district staff member with the award each month.
Those who nominated Ross had lauded her for her “positivity, generous spirit, and work ethic.” To nominate someone for the CARE Award, visit the district’s website here.
CARE Award sponsors include Kiwanis and Columbia Bank, along with Backstop Bar & Grill, Wayward Sandwiches, Swan Island Dahlias, Puddin’ River Chocolates, Matt Olsen State Farm Insurance, RiceTime Canby, The Book Nook, Odd Moe’s Pizza, The Wild Hare Saloon and DirectLink.
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