Turner’s Merri Hocker receives Award of Excellence for her work as school registrar

By Shelley Widhalm

The Surveyor

As the registrar and counseling secretary at Turner Middle School, Merri Hocker handles anything from online registration to student lockers — and, in the first year of her job, she received the highest level of recognition.

Hocker, of Loveland, is one of 21 staff members and one group to receive the ninth annual Thompson School District Award of Excellence for her contributions to the school and to the district during the 2017-2018 school year. She was awarded at the school Aug. 22 and will be recognized, alongside the other award winners, during a reception Sept. 18 at the district administration building. The award winners, who are first presented with a certificate at their schools, includes 10 certified staff members, eight classified staff members, three administrators, and one group.

Courtesy photo – Merri Hocker, registrar at Turner Middle School, left, poses Aug. 22 in the school library with Lamb Caro, early childhood administrator for Thompson School District, after receiving the TSD Award of Excellence for her contributions to the school and the district.

“I cannot think of a more deserving candidate than Merri,” said Brandy Grieves, principal at Turner Middle School. “She has been instrumental in helping with improving our communication lines going out to our families … and ensuring our counseling office is running smoothly. The time Merri has put in to learning, asking questions, and working with students, staff and families is above and beyond.”

The award recognizes excellence as a “focused commitment to our district’s mission, vision and operating principles,” and staff show excellence by demonstrating “continuous improvement and progress in leadership, communication, innovation, risk-takings, teamwork and performance,” Grieves shared with staff when she presented the award to Hocker. Grieves also read several anonymous statements from Hocker’s nomination form about why she deserved the award.

“She has elevated the counseling department, and the entire school, to a whole new and more efficient level,” said Zac Traver, school counselor and boys head soccer coach. “She can handle just about anything that is thrown her way, and she does it with near perfection. She also makes working in a very stressful and hectic environment much easier, as she is easy to talk to and fun to laugh with.”

Hocker processes online registration for the students, assists them with their schedules and lockers, and updates the school’s website. She also is in charge of student records; processing them, getting the appropriate paperwork from parents, such as immunization records, birth certificates and proof of residency, requesting records from any previous schools and ensuring the files are correct and complete.

“I enjoy working with the students,” Hocker said. “I enjoy hearing their stories and listening to them and interacting with them.”

Hocker wants to help the students and parents feel welcome and to give a good positive first impression.

“It’s the first face parents meet when they come to the school,” Hocker said. “I give them all the information that they would need, would want as a parent: resources, information about where to find stuff. … I answer any questions they have.”

Previously, Hocker was a health aide for one year at Turner and six years at Winona Elementary School in Loveland, dispensing medication and providing first aid for students.

Hocker also worked as a hair stylist for five years and as an executive assistant for 10 years. She stayed at home for a few years to raise her and her husband Randy’s twin daughters, now 14, and volunteered in their kindergarten classroom. The health aide position at Winona became available, and she applied to have the same schedule as her daughters.

“I was very surprised, very thankful. It was amazing,” Hocker said about receiving the award. “That somebody had noticed what I had done and that I’m doing it correctly and doing it well, it’s good to be recognized for that, to feel appreciated.”

Justin Muir, seventh-grade social studies teacher, appreciates the job Hocker does.

“Mary is one of the kindest and most helpful people I have ever had the privilege to work with. She almost always has a smile on her face and is quick with a joke when things get stressful,” Muir said.

Grieves said Merri brightens the day for students and staff.

“She is always positive, cheerful and ready to laugh,” Grieves said. “Merri has shown great tenacity in her position. … Merri’s leadership is shown through her actions because of her consistent hard work each day and her willingness to jump in and assist whenever needed.”

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