Ever start to wonder what happened to the concept of service? Are you frustrated by the dinner order that comes to your table with the wrong items –again, the 10-minute wait at the gas station as the attendants finish up their personal conversation, the interminable wait on the phone as you are processed through an automated “customer service” center?

These daily instances of indifference might lead us to believe service has become a lost art. I was right there with you in that belief, but Nov. 22 my faith in people and organizations was renewed. The annual Crystal Apple Awards honoring educators is Northern Marion County reminded me that service is alive and thriving in our communities.

The Woodburn Area Chamber of Commerce was the first group to rekindle my sense of appreciation for those who serve. For over a decade, the chamber has been spending hundreds of hours each year for the sole purpose of recognizing and honoring the many fine educators who nurture our kids.

In particular, the chamber’s Executive Director Don Judson and office manager Rhonda Judson have gone above and beyond the call of duty to make the event a very special evening. It was especially sad to hear that this will be their last Crystal Apple ceremony. Their hard work and dedication is inspirational and all of us in the educational community thank them and wish them well in their future journeys.

Of course the focus of the evening was on those who truly embody the concept of service, our public educators.

As superintendent, I see what is expected of these public servants every day. We ask them to do more with less, work way beyond the hours they are paid, put up with a mountain of reform initiatives, be chastised for a retirement system they have no control over and do it all with a smile on their face and grace in their heart. The amazing thing is they do just that.

Serving the students and families of our communities is what they have dedicated their entire lives to and at the awards ceremony we got the chance to recognize a few of them for their fine work. A moment of service, or volunteer work is one thing, but to commit a lifetime to helping others realize their highest aspirations is quite another.

Those receiving awards epitomize the selfless nature of the work and we congratulate them on a job well done.

They also represent hundreds of other educators who toil each day making our schools and communities a better place because of their sense of service.

To each of them we say thank you for recapturing the lost art of service.

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