Chicken, waffles, salad, fresh fruit, and milk are among the items on the menu at North Windy Ridge Intermediate. The staff is busy preparing for their lunch rush. Cafeteria Manager Shannon Webb pulls a piping hot tray of food out of the oven and walks it to the serving line. “A good meal helps them learn better,” says Webb. “They have the energy to keep going through the day!”
Webb is a 21-year employee of Buncombe County Schools. She’s worked in the North Windy Ridge cafeteria since the school opened in 2003. She says it’s amazing to see the diversity in school menus nowadays.
“We make hot, homemade dishes like butternut squash or sesame broccoli. We use different recipes to encourage the kids to try new vegetables. It’s great when they try it and say ‘Oh, I love this.’ It’s rewarding,” says Webb.
Principal Brent Wise says Ms. Webb brings a smile to work every day. “She is the anchor for our school. She serves hot, delicious food with a smile first thing in the morning. It helps the students start their day off with a full tummy and a good attitude,” says Wise.
Ms. Webb isn’t just in charge of feeding students’ bodies, she’s part of a unique program that helps feed their souls as well. North Windy Ridge introduced a mentorship program this year. Students and staff members all took a personality quiz and were matched up according to those results.
“The adult leader and the 10+ students have similar personalities, likes, dislikes, etc.,” says Wise. “Ms. Webb is working with her group on enhancing their leadership skills.”
Ms. Webb says her group has both shy and outgoing students. She’s hoping they all learn how important it is to have confidence and embrace who they are. “Sometimes we just talk, sometimes we go on walks. I give students space to be themselves. I can be their friend and that’s important to me,” says Webb.
The cafeteria staff members recently received thank-you notes from the students. She said it melted her heart to see how much the students care. “When you go home at the end of the day, you know you made a difference for these kids. You fed them a hot meal and you got to be their friend. I have a very special job,” says Webb.