SIKESTON - Cherlyn Hain is always up to something new. From developing a "sensory tent" for students to initiating a "ticket" system for bus-riders, Hain is credited with several innovations at New Dawn State School in Sikeston.
A bus driver and teacher's aide, Ms. Hain was named the January Employee of the Month for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the February State Employee of the Month for Missouri. Gov. Bob Holden recognized Ms. Hain on Feb. 26 in Jefferson City.
"Cherlyn displays a consistently positive attitude toward students, staff and parents and is always willing to lend a helping hand," said Building Administrator Teresa Neumeyer.
This school year, Ms. Hain is assigned to a classroom that is transitioning from a retiring teacher to a new one. "Cherlyn has high expectations for each student and staff person in the classroom despite the many changes in the room.
"Cherlyn created an IEP-based schedule for each student and posted the schedule on the wall using color-coded index cards and symbols. This large display allows every person working with the students easy access to goals, therapy times and general routines designed to keep the students engaged in learning. She made individual student booklets to help the teachers get to know the students."
The sensory tent she developed allows students to interact with a variety of sensory devices, including a disco ball, soft music and aromatherapy.
Hain has a commercial driver's license and a bus permit and is certified in CPR and first aid. She performs daily pre-trip checklists on the bus assigned to her and informs the office of necessary repairs or service changes. She loads and unloads students who use a wheelchair.
She assumes responsibility for maintenance and repairs on spare buses and helps trouble-shoot bus safety issues. In addition, she serves on the school safety committee.
"Cherlyn works closely with the building administrator to keep the bus fleet running well. She developed a booklet of information on new buses to assist drivers with maintenance. When there was confusion about student transportation due to driver absences, Cherlyn developed a 'ticket' system, based on symbols, to help students and staff members know which buses to ride," Neumeyer said.
Hain joined the state school in August 1981. "What I find most satisfying about my work are the caring, giving co-workers who have the same goals I have for the students," she said. "Making a difference, however small, to the students and their families, is very rewarding."
She credits the students with helping her maintain a positive attitude.
"The students always bring smiles and laughter to your heart, and the twinkle in their eye makes your soul smile."
Ms. Hain and husband of 27 years, Mike, reside in Parma. The couple has a cocker spaniel and boxer. Cherlyn's hobbies include reading and yard work. She is active in her church where she has served for several years as youth director and Sunday school teacher.
Cherlyn's experience in education has taught her that all children are the same. "All children want and need respect, honesty, love and laughter - no exception to the rule."
The State Employee of the Month is selected by the State Employee of the Month Selection Committee from among nominations submitted by the 16 state departments and some elected offices. The six committee members also are members of the State Training Advisory Council.