More than two decades ago, Julie Olson received a phone call that would start her on a path to serve multiple children for years to come.
Olson, who resides in the rural community of Vernon, Utah, had a friend who worked at a school lunchroom in the Tooele area. The friend called to see if she might be interested in picking up lunches made at a school in the Tooele Valley for students attending Vernon Elementary since the school did not have a lunchroom of its own. Vernon Elementary had been built more than 100 years before and still used a coal furnace for heating.
She agreed to try out the task and quickly fell in love with serving meals every school day to the elementary students.
“The kids are the best part of my job. They are like my own kids,” said Olson.
She planned to continue the pick-up and drop-off routine until her daughter graduated from high school in 2011 but found she liked doing the work so much that she has never stopped. For six of her going on 21 years of employment, she simultaneously worked in the lunchroom at Copper Canyon Elementary. She does not plan to stop working anytime soon, especially since one of her granddaughters is a student she serves at Vernon Elementary.
A welcomed difference to this school year is that there is now a kitchen in the newly built school that opened this fall.
“It makes a world of difference,” said Olson.
Former Vernon Elementary School Principal, Jeff Wyatt, who now serves as the Tooele County School District Director of School and Student Safety, nominated Olson for the honor of Support Professional of the Year. He noticed her ability to connect with students and the community.
“She always wants what is best for students and goes out of her way to help them. She is very patient with them,” said Wyatt. “The relationship that she has built with this community is one of respect, dedication, and trust.”
Casey Kress, Child Nutrition director also praised Olson’s efforts.
“She truly puts love into the food for the students and staff at Vernon Elementary. That care is felt throughout the community in Vernon, and they know how important she is to that school,” said Kress. “Julie is an important part of the Child Nutrition Department's success, and we are so happy to call her one of ours.”
Wyatt also complimented her ability to multitask.
“Even though this is a smaller school, there are a lot of things going on. She stays calm under pressure and is always smiling,” said Wyatt. “She does this quietly, every day, without ever complaining and never seeks any recognition for it. Honestly, she fulfills her job because she loves people. She is so deserving of this award.”
Olson attributes her success to her love of working hard, staying positive, being happy, and looking for ways to serve others.