Retiring paraeducator awarded for ‘Class Act’


Daniel Davidson

Shelley Van thanks Lawrence High staff after receiving the Class Act Award

By Daniel Davidson, Online Editor-in-Chief

When soon-to-retire Shelley Vann was trying to write a letter thanking her colleagues, she couldn’t help but tear up. So they decided to say thanks first.

The Class Act Award is given to an outstanding staff member each semester for demonstrating leadership and positivity. This morning, Superintendent Anthony Lewis, surrounded by fellow Lawrence High faculty and Vann’s family in the rotunda, surprised Vann with the award.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do without you,” Lewis said.

Vann has worked in the district for 28 years as a job coach and paraeducator and plans to retire later this month. Vann’s students gain work experience through responsibilities such as collecting and delivering towels or uniforms from the laundry room.

“I get out of it just a love of kids,” Vann said. “When I go out in the community… all these kids are like ‘Hi, Ms. Shelly,’. [Retirement] is very bittersweet because I love everyone here.”

Along with the award, Vann received a $400 check from Truity Credit Union, a Lawrence Education Achievement Partner.

“Shelley is beloved by her students and her colleagues because of her infectious positivity and work ethic,” said work experience specialist Matt Klein in a district news release.

Although Vann said she looks forward to spending more time with her grandson, she plans to come back to the district as a substitute paraeducator.

“Her students love working in the laundry room because [Vann] is patient, kind, energetic and fun,” counselor Kelsey Buek said. “She is committed to her students and I have no doubt that she always will be.”