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EOP awards go to Jones, Holmes

A long-time school employee who sees her mission as serving the public and a former journalist who moved into school public relations a few years ago are this year’s recipients of annual awards presented by the Lenoir County chapter of the N.C. Association of Educational Office Professionals.

LaShonda Jones, a presence in the office at Kinston High School for more than a decade, was named Educational Office Professional of the Year and Patrick Holmes, the district’s public information officer, was named Administrator of the Year during a luncheon Tuesday.

Jones’ career with LCPS began in March 1998 when she was still a student at Lenoir Community College and took a temporary part-time position at the Central Services office that became a permanent part-time job, then a full-time position in a variety of district departments, from testing to child nutrition. She moved to the front desk at Kinston High in 2005.

There, her job is “to serve the public and assist the students,” she said Friday, pausing the interview to find a Band Aid for a student.

A member of EOP since 2008, Jones was cited during the luncheon for the support she renders the KHS staff and for her committee work and recruitment on behalf of the professional organization at the county and state level.

Kinston High principal Kellan Bryant calls Jones “a professional and a team player at all times” and appreciates the seriousness with which she approaches her job.

“She is the first point of contact each day for parents, community members, district staff, students and Kinston High School staff,” Bryant said.  “She recognizes how important her role is at the school. She maintains a high level of professionalism at all times, is courtesy and is always thinking of others and how something will affect them. She is the absolute best multi-tasker I have ever worked with.”

As a county winner, Jones’ application will be submitted for competition in District 12.

Away from work, Jones enjoys time with her family and is active in her church, Holly Grove Free Will Baptist Church in La Grange. A native of Greene County, she grew up in Kinston and graduated from North Lenoir High School. She lives in Kinston.

Holmes, the district’s PIO since February 2014, spent decades as a reporter, editor and publisher at a half-dozen daily newspapers in North Carolina before transitioning into school public relations. His last newspaper job was as editor and publisher of The Free Press in Kinston, a position he held for 13 years.

The award citation noted Holmes’ community involvement as a board member with Lenoir-Greene United Way, Boys and Girls Club of Lenoir County and the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce, among others. His work for the school district has earned him awards for writing, photography, marketing and digital communications from the North Carolina School Public Relations Association.

“Mr. Holmes is an outstanding public information officer and an even better human being. Through hard work and tireless dedication, he has distinguished himself as a leader among his peers in the unique and highly specialized role of Public Information Officer for Lenoir County Public Schools,” Superintendent Brent Williams said. 

“Over time, Mr. Holmes has set forth a strong and inspiring level of service to others – both in the school system and in the larger overall community as well. Mr. Patrick Holmes is admired and loved not only by his school system colleagues, but also by those with whom he has interacted in our countywide community and beyond. Lenoir County Public Schools is, indeed, very fortunate to have such and outstanding leader and such a truly wonderful person in our school system family.”

The EOP chapter also presented scholarships to two LCPS seniors, Zenaida Bryant of Kinston High School, who plans to study sports science at UNC-Charlotte, and to Yosi Esquivel, who’s headed to N.C. State University to study aeronautical engineering.

Esquivel will represent the local EOP chapter in competition for a district scholarship.

Also at the luncheon, Williams swore in a new slate of officers: Jessie Taylor, executive assistant to the superintendent, as president; Vice President Lori Bryan, of the district’s Finance Department; Secretary Ester Hines, executive assistant to the assistant superintendent; and Treasurer Beth Herring of Lenoir County Early College High School.

Like the national and state organizations of AEOP, the local chapter strives to provide professional growth through leadership, education, achievement, recognition and networking opportunities for educational office professionals.