ESS Announces 6th Annual Impact Award Winners

The company honored six substitute teachers and school support staff members throughout the United States with its employee of the year award.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#Arkansas–ESS, a leading national provider of education managed solutions for K-12 schools, announced six individuals as the recipients of the sixth annual “Impact Award” – the highest honor the company bestows on an employee. This year’s winners include Megan Bilello (NJ), Laurie Ochnio (CT), David Hay (AR), Suzanne Dansby (TX), Harriet Gable (GA), and Gerlinde Braunberger (UT). As part of their recognition, each honoree received a $500 cash prize, an additional $500 to donate to their school of choice, and a crystal apple trophy.

“The Impact Award is an ideal opportunity to recognize the exceptional work of substitute teachers and support staff,” said ESS CEO, Buddy Helton. “These individuals were highly praised for their dedication and work ethic by principals, secretaries, teachers, and other staff members of their respective school districts. It is clear that they are making a significant positive impact on education and are deserving of this recognition.”

The ESS Impact Award was created in 2014 to recognize employees based on their exemplary record of service. More specifically, judges made their decision based on the following criteria:

  • Total number of days worked in a one-year period
  • Feedback from the school district(s) that the employee serves
  • Proven commitment to going above and beyond what is expected of their role

Megan Bilello has served as a permanent Support Services Assistant with ESS since 2011. She donated the $500 award check to Chairville Elementary School, part of the Medford Township School District in New Jersey. In his nomination, Chairville Principal John Karakashian recalled a specific occurrence in which Bilello went out of her way to help a student. According to Karakashian, “The impact that Megan had on this child’s day is immeasurable… She saw a child in need and made time for him.”

Gerlinde Braunberger worked 195 assignments at the Washington County School District in Utah since joining ESS in July 2018. Most frequently, she works at the Snow Canyon High School, which is where she donated the $500 award check. Snow Canyon Attendance Secretary Darla Snow said, “Gerlinda’s experience in teaching is invaluable as she takes on challenging teaching situations and adapts easily when things don’t go as planned. She is well respected by her peers, appreciated by the administration, and adored by the students at Snow Canyon High School.”

Laurie Ochnio has worked more than 100 assignments since joining ESS in August 2018. She donated the $500 award check to Highland Park Elementary School, part of the Manchester School District in Connecticut. Highland Park Kindergarten Teacher Jill Kilgus said, “Laurie has a special heart for students with special needs. She guides and encourages them with warmth and friendliness. Laurie can jump right into whatever plans are left for her and leaves everything neat and orderly for your return back to class.”

Harriet Gable has filled 194 absences since joining ESS in July 2018. She works at many locations throughout Floyd County Schools in Georgia and decided to give the $500 award donation to Model Middle School. ESS Regional Manager Dawn Spangler said, “I have fielded numerous accolades about Harriet Gable from the staff in Floyd County. She goes above and beyond in her role and is a positive influence on students, making sure they understand the material she teaches. She even volunteers at the school on days she’s not working!”

David Hay has been substituting with ESS since 2009. In the one-year eligibility period, he worked 176 assignments at various schools within the Paragould School District in Arkansas and chose to award the $500 check to Oak Grove Middle School. Among several nominations, Paragould High School Principal Josh Shepherd said, “Mr. Hay is always friendly, helpful, and willing to do whatever is asked by schools when needed. He goes the extra mile in all that he does and is a joy to have on my campus.”

Suzanne Dansby has covered 259 absences since joining ESS in April 2019. She primarily serves the detention centers of the Denton Independent School District and chose to honor the Joe Dale Sparks Campus with the $500 donation check. Joe Dale Sparks Campus Secretary Jenneal Vincent said, “Ms. Dansby is the best substitute you could ask for… When in the classroom, she follows the teacher’s instructions well and because she knows the expectations/rules of our particular campus, the teachers and officers prefer her above most substitutes. She also understands and is flexible with the facility when unexpected changes occur.”

About ESS:

ESS is the largest education-exclusive personnel and management company in the country, providing full-service programs to K-12 school districts. It recruits, trains, develops, and manages highly qualified substitute and permanent educational talent. ESS’ solutions place educators in classrooms, improve the quality of education for students, and provide resources to district administration and staff so they can devote more time to raising student achievement. The company fills more than 15,500 absences for more than 700 school district partners each day.

For more information, call (877) 983-2244 or visit


Bernard Decker

(865) 888-9244

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