Penn Hills School District's new distinguished alum program has its first honoree
Verneil “Ric” Williams can add another accomplishment to his resume: being Penn Hills School District’s inaugural distinguished alum.
“I was blown away because I didn’t realize it was going to be at that magnitude,” Williams said after receiving the honor at a recent school board meeting. “It’s been a whirlwind this whole year. Things have been looking up for me, and I appreciate my job more.”
Williams, 44, of Penn Hills graduated in 1993. He’s been an aide at Extended Family Care in Wilkins Township since 2001.
He was named the Pennsylvania Homecare Association and the state Department of Aging’s 2018 Pennsylvania Direct Care Worker of the Year in March.
“For you to get an award as the best of anything in the state is a big deal,” said School Director Yusef Thompson Sr., who nominated Williams to be a distinguished alum. “We want to make sure that everyone knows that we have good people in the community that are from (the district).”
Williams said knew he wanted to become a careworker after he and other relatives looked after his grandmother, Dorothy Summers.
Williams said the family took care of her in his parents’ Penn Hills home for years before her passing in 1998 at age 76.
“It was just something I knew,” Williams said. “We gave her extended time. I just enjoy helping people. If you’re trying your best for somebody, it helps them. It helps the family, and it helps myself with my own family.”
The idea for the new graduate recognition program came when the board wanted to have a community version of the district’s Celebrate Success program, which recognizes staff members for outstanding work.
“Our board is very flexible and community friendly,” Superintendent Nancy Hines said. “We’re going to recognize a graduate from Penn Hills who’s done amazing things and who we want our kids to be aware of.”
The alum receives a certificate of appreciation, and art students from each school will design their own wall of fame for portraits of the honorees. Students also will do research on the person.
“I think it’s great it,” Williams said. “It definitely gives us people from Penn Hills, even those who aren’t originally from Penn Hills, the opportunity to know about what goes on in Penn Hills and the neighborhood.”
Hines said the program is in its infancy, and the district still is determining how to select future awardees.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.