Position: School Based Social Worker
School: Shawnee Middle School
School District: Shawnee Public Schools
City, State: Shawnee, Oklahoma
About the Nominee: Ms. Barkhimer is a proven leader and advocate for underprivileged students and families within the community. She is known as a community outreach and leadership specialist throughout the district. The programs she has implemented and maintained have touched the lives of many students and families. Ms. Barkhimer works with multiple churches, area businesses and large factory corporations to provide food, clothing and assistance to the students. She also collaborates with other teachers to develop lessons that create a more positive atmosphere for the students. As a school-based social worker, Ms. Barkhimer partners with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma to maintain a food pantry at Shawnee Middle School that serves Shawnee Middle School and two other schools in the district. This labor-intensive project requires many hours of hard work and an army of volunteers to manage. Ms. Barkhimer does this with such poise and grace that within a year her pantry went from serving nine students per week to more than 120! She also works with area groups to provide about 75 Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, and, in collaboration with the City of Shawnee, delivers Christmas gifts to families in need. Ms. Barkhimer goes way beyond her duties as a school district employee to ensure that her students, school and community are taken care of in every possible way. The programs she runs and her caring heart touch the lives of many Shawnee students, past and present, and gives them hope for a brighter tomorrow.