April O’Donohue has been fully ingrained in Bossier Schools long before she began drawing a paycheck.
From kindergarten room mom to perennial volunteer, O’Donohue jumped in feet first to support her daughter Savannah’s educational experience and met some wonderful teachers, parents and support staff along the way.
“I immediately started to volunteer and became a member of the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization),” the soft-spoken, brown-haired Cajun beauty explained. “One of the responsibilities of the PTO was assisting with the decorations for the book fairs, which is how I met Kim ‘Lovie’ Howell,” who was the Librarian at Stockwell Place where Savannah attended elementary school.
The two immediately clicked and when the Librarian Assistant position opened at Stockwell Place, O’Donohue was the perfect fit. She and Howell were like peanut butter and jelly, or in O’Donohue’s case, like a good roux is to gumbo. Then, Howell moved to become Librarian at Benton Middle School, leaving O’Donohue to take on dual roles as Librarian and Library Assistant.
“She never once complained and powered through the end of the school year like a champ,” Howell said. “Her focus was the students, always the students and what they needed … never what she had to endure with added responsibilities that quite frankly weren’t in her job description and she didn’t get paid to do. Her work ethic and dedication to others was evident … every single day.”
Imagine how elated Howell was when her sidekick was later hired to be Librarian Assistant at Benton Middle School, where O’Donohue’s daughter now attends.
“I was thrilled!” exclaimed Howell. “She jumped in with confidence and a dedication to the Tigers like she had been here forever. Everyone — and I mean EVERYONE at BMS — fell in love with this former Duck Queen from Rayne, Louisiana, with her infectious enthusiasm and stunning personality. She draws the students into the Tiger Library with her happy hellos and her warm smile. Her ideas are numerous on how to make our Tiger Library a nurturing place that everyone wants to be.”
She is credited with transforming the BMS library into thematic places that bring students together and fuels their love of books. O’Donohue runs the school’s book fairs and oversees its Study Hall program. Her list of accolades goes on and on, yet O’Donohue does not do it for praise or recognition.
“Dr. (Kyle) Machen (Principal) stresses to everyone at BMS that everyone is appreciated, valued and loved,” O’Donohue added. “Being a part of a team that not only says those words, but shows you how you are appreciated, valued and loved makes it extremely easy to come to work with a smile on your face and willing to do ‘whatever it takes’ for our students. Seeing students grow in an environment that also allows me to grow really makes for a satisfying day, even on the tough days.”
It is no wonder this south Louisiana girl has won the hearts of the Bossier Parish community and the Benton Tigers, and earned O’Donohue the honor of being named Bossier Schools’ newest Gold Star winner.
“Humbled and grateful are words that come to mind, knowing that at least one person thinks I make a difference in our students’ lives on a regular basis,” she said.
O’Donohue is undoubtedly a difference maker and one whom Bossier Schools counts among its blessings this season of Thanksgiving.
Editor’s note: Know someone who works for Bossier Schools that is deserving of recognition for going above and beyond? Nominate them for the Gold Star award, proudly sponsored for the last nine years by Bossier Federal Credit Union. Just go tohttps://bit.ly/3oAP4Mi and tell what sets them apart.