February 7, 2023

Benton County Schools receive Utrust award

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BEST APPRECIATION PROGRAM – Benton County School Board Chairman Joey Cooper receives an award from Utrust Administrator Dr. Dan Tollett for Benton County Schools having the best school employee appreciation program in West Tennessee.

Benton County Schools received an award from Utrust last week for having the best school appreciation program in West Tennessee. School Board Chairman Joey Cooper accepted the award at the Utrust Member Appreciation Dinner held at the Tennessee Titans Stadium in Nashville. 

All schools in Benton County participate in the program that encourages students to recognize and express appreciation to school employees who do things to make students’ lives better every day. The award included $100 for each of the participating schools in Benton County. 

Each school has a student “A-Team” (where A stands for appreciation) that plans and leads activities to honor school employees on the eight theme-based appreciation days during the school year. To honor employees, students do a variety of things such as writing thank you notes, making announcements, and singing familiar songs with rewritten lyrics. They also make signs, banners, cards, and other decorations to honor employees. To honor the superintendent, each school held a drive to benefit a charity of their choice.

In addition to the A-Team, most schools have a G-Force (where G is for gratitude), consisting of two students in each classroom who lead and encourage fellow students to express appreciation to employees throughout the year, not just on appreciation days. 

“School board members value our employees and we’re delighted our students participate in this program to honor and recognize those who make a difference in their lives each day,” said Cooper.

“We want students to realize that each employee in Benton County Schools plays a role in making sure students receive the best education possible,” said Director of Schools Mark Florence. “We think an important part of our students’ education is developing the habit of expressing appreciation. We are fortunate to have dedicated employees in each of our schools, and we are proud of our students for showing them gratitude throughout the year.”

“Every citizen in Benton County should be very proud of the excellent appreciation program in their schools,” said Utrust Administrator Dr. Dan Tollett. “Benton County students express sincere appreciation to employees every day, and appreciation days in Benton County Schools are fun for both employees and students.” 

According to Tollett, appreciation is a basic skill, every bit as important to the success of students as any subject taught in school. Per Utrust data, more Tennessee schools teach appreciation than in any other state. Tollett concluded, “No school district in the state shows their appreciation better than Benton Country”

Utrust is a statewide organization that sponsors the Utrust Appreciation Program, promotes excellence in employee relations, and administers unemployment compensation for local school boards in Tennessee. Utrust distributed more than $5 million in mini grants to its members in the last five years to pay for things that teachers and principals need but were not funded in their budget. For example, a mini grant awarded to Benton County Schools last spring was used to fund improvements to the playground at Camden Elementary School.

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