Food is Teresa Carey’s love language. The long-time cafeteria manager at Bossier Elementary knows if children are hungry, they cannot learn. Yet Carey fills more than their tummies; she feeds their souls.
“She is not only a fixture at our school, but she is also one in our neighborhood,” said principal Dr. Norcha Lacy. “Our students frequently visit her home and she feeds them just as she does in the cafeteria. She genuinely loves our students and it shows in her every action at Bossier El. We are the ones who are blessed to have her serve us.”
Cassie Rogers seconds that sentiment.
“A recipe card can be followed by anyone. However, when you eat food with extra ingredients that make it taste extraordinary, you must understand her extra ingredients are love, compassion and living in her purpose,” Rogers wrote.
Home is where the heart is, and for Carey that place is Bossier Elementary. She has spent nearly the last 31 years there, loving on her Bearkittens, which includes many of her students’ parents and grandparents. There is a quote about blooming where you are planted and Carey is, unquestionably, rooted here.
“There’s no other school in Bossier Parish that is more grateful than I see here,” Carey explained. “The big kids help the little kids. They take care of each other and you get attached. They are the ones that need it the most and are willing to learn … This is their safe place. I live in this neighborhood and see fighting, screaming … Let them be a child while they are here. I want them to succeed and grow up to a better life.”
It would be easy to do her job and go home, but Carey chooses to go the extra mile. She recently wrote words of affirmation on the bananas all 400 kids received for lunch. Carey decorates the cafeteria for the seasons and rewards children for knowing their math facts when she quizzes them in line. The examples are many and her actions do not go unnoticed. It is why she was overwhelmingly nominated for, and chosen as the December winner of Bossier Schools’ Gold Star award.
“Mrs. Teresa is always willing to help students and even washes uniforms or jackets for students in need,” attested Debbie Mitchell.
“She takes great pride in making sure they have the best, not only in the cafeteria for breakfast and lunch, but she has donated handmade mittens and gloves for the students in the winter each year,” added Dana Hensley. “She is also one of the first people to volunteer to cook, on her own time, and donate food for any teacher appreciation lunch or in-service activity. She loves to support everyone at BES and her smile and ‘good morning’ as you walk past her office in the early morning starts off the day right!”
No one knows better how much Carey pours her heart into Bossier Elementary than her daughter, Sharon Pollock, who fondly remembers spending time in the cafeteria before and after school while her mom worked to make sure her school children had everything they needed.
“She is more than a cafeteria manager to students. She is a constant in the lives of the students she serves,” Pollock said. “The students of Bossier El can count on her to be there everyday (she refuses to ever miss work because her kids need her) greeting them with a smile … My mom understands that some of the students she feeds depend on her for their only food for the day. She shows her students compassion and understanding and gives them all the extra love they crave.”
Rogers summed it up, perhaps the best, when she said “It is not everyday that you get to witness a real life superhero. An extraordinary human with superhuman abilities that they use. Someone who is actually living every day in the purpose that they are put on this earth for. With just one encounter involving Teresa Carey you’ll 100-percent understand why she is more than deserving of this Gold Star award.”