SNF Scholarship Series: ANC First Timer Renieca Harris, Manager, A.B. Combs Elementary, Perry County Schools, Kentucky

Welcome to the 2016 SNF Scholarship Series! We are thrilled to revisit this popular series, in which we connect with your SNA colleagues from around the country to learn more about them and how an SNF scholarship is helping them pursue goals and achieve their dreams. Our First Timer recipients were nominated by a supervising director to attend their first Annual National Conference in San Antonio, Texas. We’ll meet our First Timers and their directors in the weeks leading up to ANC. Please visit the SNA website to learn more about ANC 2016 in San Antonio.

When Renieca Harris was in search of a job with family-friendly hours, she thought a job with the local school system might be a good fit. With two young children at home, she wanted hours that more closely matched theirs in order to spend more time together—something her manufacturing job did not offer.

“I’m a people person, and [a co-worker] mentioned he had seen a job opening at the school advertised, and he thought about me first,” explained Harris. “The opening was at A.B. Combs, and he knew I was one who always wanted to help people, and called to let me know about the job. That’s how I got here.”

From the beginning, Harris was eager to learn, says Perry County Schools’ Child Nutrition Director Linda Campbell. It’s one of many reasons she nominated Harris for a 2016 First Timer award.

“Renieca is doing a wonderful job already, but she always wants to do more,” said Campbell. “She wants to learn as much as she can so she can do a better job. If I say ‘try this’ she jumps right on it.”

In turn, Harris says that it’s the example Campbell sets as director that motivates her to learn and grow.

“Linda and I have a great rapport,” she said. “She is always willing to hear from us, to get our input. She always wants to know how we feel we can make a difference—she’s concerned. She always gives us the opportunity to try new things, and she shares ideas. I try to learn from her, and always go that extra mile.”

Harris and Campbell will travel together to San Antonio for ANC 2016, and they both say learning more about alternative delivery models for school breakfast is an area of particular interest.

“I thought the First Timer award would give Renieca exposure to more information,” said Harris. “We aren’t where we want to be in participation at breakfast, and I think she would like to seek out strategies to make breakfast stronger.”

Harris concurred, saying she hopes to learn more about stakeholder engagement to help breakfast get a foothold at A.B. Combs.

“I want to see how other people are doing the breakfast program,” said Harris. “I want teachers and everyone to work with me, to get excited about [breakfast]–as excited as we are–to be successful. I’ll learn by seeing and hearing other people’s ideas first-hand at ANC.”

As excited as she is to travel to San Antonio for her first national conference, Harris is also grateful to Campbell for the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally.

“I appreciate what Linda does for us, and she is the reason I want to further my education in school nutrition,” said Harris. “Watching the love she has for the kids and seeing what she does for them—her heart is in it. The passion she has, the heart–that inspires me to keep learning.”

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