Kimberly McLaughlin will have worked in Greenwood County School District 50 for 21 years in October, and the student support facilitator will be entering into the newly named Benjamin E. Mays Elementary School at the onset of the 2020-21 academic year as the district’s Support Employee of the Year.

“It’s a big honor,” she said. “I couldn’t do it without my staff at Springfield (Elementary). It takes all of us in that building to do this and they have supported me 100% with my work and I couldn’t do it without them. They’re awesome and they are great to work with.”

McLaughlin said not seeing her students during the COVID-19 pandemic was difficult because she usually interacted with them during home visits. She could only talk to them on the phone and keep up with how they were doing through their families. She’s more of an in-person type of individual, so not seeing her students was the hardest part of the COVID-19 pandemic for her.

“During the school time I was only able to drop off stuff and wave at them through the window,” she said. “This has been the toughest year for us ever, especially since we could not have that kind of contact with the kids.”

Even with 20 years in the district, she maintains that she wouldn’t want another job.

“I have always wanted to do this,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s a rewarding job.”

For the 2020-21 school year, McLaughlin hopes that everyone can come back to school the healthiest and safest way possible. She acknowledged that getting accustomed to new social distancing rules and regulations will be tough at first, especially with her job because she won’t be able to do a lot of the things she has done for the past two decades.

Nonetheless, she said she’s very anxious to get back and see the kids.

“These last past months made me realize how much I miss my job, my kids, the staff and the parents I work with,” she said. “I’m ready to jump right back in.”

Contact reporter Jonathan Limehouse at 864-943-5644 or follow him on Twitter @jon_limehouse.