ATHENS — The mission of the Athens Area School District, in collaboration with family and community, is to ensure educational excellence by preparing students with the skills necessary to become lifelong learners and responsible members of society.

We recognize that without our wonderful support staff we would never be able to meet the needs of our students and our organization. The work, time and effort that they put in are a huge part of our success. Our support staff go above and beyond — without expecting recognition or accolades — to ensure that every child is learning and growing. I want to take the time to introduce Elizabeth Gannon-Horton, an integral part of our school district.

Mrs. Gannon-Horton has been with us for five years. Prior to coming to AASD and having her children, she was a dental hygienist. Elizabeth considered working in the Pediatric office but decided to stay with general practice. Being home with her boys allowed her time to volunteer at the preschool, Galdys Burnham, and SRU. We are very fortunate to have her as part of our Wildcat Family and we asked her a few questions.

What inspired you to work with children?

Thinking back, I can’t remember a time I didn’t work with children. Starting with babysitting, Youth For Christ, Community Theater, Volunteering in my son’s classrooms and now working for AASD.

How did you come to work in AASD and how long have you been here?

I’ve been with AASD five years. I was thrilled when more support staff positions were added in the district.

What are three things that every support staff person should know?

You need to be very flexible. Each day you need to meet each student where they are at that moment and help them make the best of their day. You might be the only person to tell a student they are amazing and cheer them on.

What has been your favorite experience with students in your current role?

My favorite experience working with small groups or individual students is when they conquer a challenge and their face lights up.

What is the most rewarding and challenging part of your job?

Rewarding: Seeing students grow and reach their goals

Challenging: At times, staying positive when those around me are dealing with their own struggles.

Are there any ways outside of your job duties that you contribute to AASD?

Seven years ago, I became involved with EMBRACE when the SRU schools combined. Organizing and doing the administrative paperwork for our book fairs and Clemens Center trips keeps me connected to two of the things I love. I chaperone for High School Chorus and Band trips as well as Marching Band. You can find me in the Band concession stand during football season. Theater has been a passion of mine for a long time. Joining the High school Drama club (ASAG) as their stage manager two years ago allowed me to work with older students. I was honored to be asked to take over as ASAG’s director and advisor last year and look forward to another musical this year with very talented students.

What is your favorite quote or do you have a motto that inspires you for working with children?

I have two. “Speak to children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth, for what they believe is what they will become.” Brooke Hampton

“I hope you’re proud of yourself for the times you’ve said ‘yes,’ when all it meant was extra work for you and was seemingly helpful only to someone else.” Mr. Rogers

Why do you believe Athens Area School District is a wonderful place to work and an excellent place for students to learn?

AASD is a wonderful place to work because it allows me the ability to make a difference in students’ learning and spend time with my own boys doing things we love. We are very lucky at AASD to have faculty and staff that truly care about our students.

Mr. Henning, SRU Principal, shared with us some insight regarding how valuable Mrs. Gannon-Horton is to our district. He shared:

“Elizabeth Gannon-Horton is a classroom aide at SRU Elementary School. She is a valuable member of our school community who is extremely involved in the school and district activities. She is a regular volunteer with EMBRACE Parent Teacher Group, the high school band, as well as a leader of the high school drama program.”

We sincerely thank Mrs. Gannon-Horton for the time and effort she places on ensuring all students have the opportunity for growth and success. With dedicated staff members, such as Mrs. Gannon-Horton, we are able to meet our district vision and mission. As we continue to build foundations for future success, we are lucky to have such a dedicated support staff member and colleague like Mrs. Gannon-Horton in our Wildcat family. I look forward to spotlighting more wonderful faculty and staff in the Athens Area School District as the year progresses.

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