A Pillar of Support

Troy Union students react to the oversized check presented to Erin Prendergast, right, the Support Staff Person of the Year for the district.
(photo by Rodney Curtis/School Life Troy)

A large contingent of top school district administrators and staff burst into a Troy Union classroom this morning. They brought flowers, treats and an oversized check made out to Erin Prendergast, surprising her in front of her students.

Erin Prendergast wipes away tears after being surprised by Superintendent Rich Machesky. (photo by Rodney Curtis/School Life Troy)

Prendergast — the resource room paraprofessional at Troy Union — was just named the Support Staff Person of the Year for the district.

“Erin does whatever it takes to support kids and support everyone in the building,” said principal Mike Cottone. “She’s very selfless, always putting the needs of others first.”

Troy Union staff members watch the surprise take place. (photo by Rodney Curtis/School Life Troy)

“I’m very surprised, very thankful,” said Prendergast between tears and smiles. “My passion has always been working in the school, working with the kids.”

“This is so well-deserved. Erin is so nice. She helps any kid, any time. She is just amazing,” said 5th-grade teacher Denice Pysh.

It IS well-deserved.

“Each year we have the opportunity to recognize the Support Staff Person of the Year. It was clear when the applications were read that Erin’s rose to the top,” said Superintendent Rich Machesky. “This is not just for the work she does here at Troy Union, but beyond the building and her work in the community.”

Erin gets a hug from daugther Isabella. (photo by Rodney Curtis/School Life Troy)
Erin gets a peck from her husband Eric Hopp, as daughter Isabella holds tight. (photo by Rodney Curtis/School Life Troy)

Her family agrees.

“She’s always helping out; she loves the kids,” said husband Eric Hopp.

“She works hard all the time,” said daughter Isabella Hopp, who was also on hand for the surprise.

Troy Union students take a selife with Erin’s check. (photo by Rodney Curtis/School Life Troy)

“Erin has the biggest heart; she goes above and beyond,” said Kimberly Mannette.

Erin’s students had more kind words to say about her.

“I think she deserves a million dollars. She’s been supporting our whole school for all these years,” said 3rd-grader Michael Mendenhall.

Troy Union students brought in flowers, one-by-one. (photo by Rodney Curtis/School Life Troy)

“She is nice. She really helps us through everything; our work, our books, she gets us treats if we’re good. She’s the nicest teacher in the world,” said 3rd-grader Amanda Seegars.

“She helps us read and she gives us gummy worms,” said 2nd-grader Venicia Shallal.

As the hubbub died down and all the hugs were handed out, Prendergrast went back to work, but with an even bigger smile on her face.

“She’s just always willing to help out wherever it needs to be done,” said secretary Jennifer Miller.

“It was awesome to see her joy. It was great to get an opportunity to celebrate with her,” concluded principal Cottone.

Erin shares a moment of surprise with her students. (photo by Rodney Curtis/School Life Troy)