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Penny Childers, at front center, visits with her husband Greg, clockwise, son-in-law Kevin, grandson Kyler, son Craig and fiancee Jessie and daughter Haley. CONTRIBUTED

Childers honored as Mill Creek’s top staff member

MADISON – The faculty and staff at Mill Creek Elementary School have selected Penny Childers as 2020 “Staff Member of the Year.”

Childers works as Child Nutrition Program or CNP Manager for the Mill Creek cafeteria. She felt honored and humbled to receive the award.

When schools closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the routine for the cafeteria changed drastically. Childers and the cafeteria staff could not see the Mill Creek students and staff daily.

“We weren’t able to serve the kids through the serving area, but instead we had to fix their meals for pick up or delivery,” Childers said.

When students return to school, Childers is “unsure of the exact process, but together, with my awesome staff, we will devise a plan that best suits the needs and well-being of the children. We will be ready and willing to go above and beyond to make them all full, safe and content.”

Personally, Childers is excited about returning to campus at Mill Creek. “I have missed the energy of the kids. Even behind a mask, my eyes will smile … just happy to be back to as much normalcy as possible.”

Away from the cafeteria, Childers enjoys volunteering to read to students in their classrooms.

She graduated from Madison County High School. Previously, she worked at Hazel Green High School in the Madison County Schools district.

In recent months, one particular student caught her attention. “We had a student with special dietary needs. He was very determined to make sure he didn’t eat anything that was on his allergy list,” Childers said.

“He would check with more than one CNP worker for reassurance. He appreciated our efforts to give him as much variety as his diet would allow,” Childers said.

Her husband Greg is self-employed. Married for 36 years, Penny and Greg live on their family farm in Taft, Tenn.

Their daughter Haley Childers Whaley, 34, husband Kevin and their son Kyler live in Flintville, Tenn. Haley is self-employed. Kyler is a sophomore at Lincoln County High School.

Penny and Greg’s son, Craig Childers, is 29 years old and self-employed. Craig and his fiancee Jessie Arnold, along with their “pup kids” Dot and Buddy, live in Taft, Tenn.

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