By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News
Nancy Christiansen grew up in Macomb County, the youngest of five siblings. She attended schools in the Anchor Bay School District and is a current resident of Van Buren Township.
As the food services manager at Dicken Elementary, Christiansen is employed by Chartwells.
“Working for Chartwells has given me the opportunity to work for one of the greatest schools I’ve ever seen,” she says. “Dicken staff works as a team from the principal all the way down. The genuine concern for the students is astounding. I am proud to be part of their team.”
Dicken Principal Heather Halabu says Christiansen is “a ray of sunshine at Dicken.”
“Our Dicken Dolphins love Ms. Nancy!” she says. “Nancy began with us in the midst of the pandemic and despite the many new challenges that food service is faced with, she does her job every day with an unwavering smile.”
During Covid, Christiansen became an asset to the team and is a dedicated member of Chartwells, says Victoria Davis, AAPS’ Director of Food Servies, noting that she’d love to hire many other great cooks, cashiers, and servers during the school year as staffing shortages are a concern as they are for the entire country.
“We asked Nancy about becoming a lead at an elementary school about 12 months ago and she started her training,” says Davis. “She quickly became part of Dicken Elementary School. She has increased participation and her presentation and quality is exemplary. Nancy goes above and beyond daily for every student at Dicken Elementary.”
What’s an average workday like for you, Nancy?
Since Covid hit, I’ve been working year-round. With the staffing shortage, the average workday is usually 10 hours.
What does your job entail?
My job entails coming into Dicken at 5:30 a.m. and getting breakfast carts ready for the 8:45 a.m. serving as the kids walk into school. After breakfast is done, I go into the kitchen and start my prep for lunch, making sure everything’s in the oven, my salad cart is ready to go, my milk cart is ready to go. We begin serving lunches at 11 a.m. There are six lunch periods altogether, and I usually quit serving at around 1:30. Then I need to count everything. Just two weeks ago, we hired an extra set of hands, and she and I will wipe down, clean, and sanitize all carts and dishes. We then start breakfast for the next day. In the meantime, I enter some statistics about the lunch figures into the computer. By then, it’s about 3 p.m. or after, which is about when I go home.
This sounds like a lot of work and long hours. Any perks that make it all worth it?
I do find it rewarding when the kids smile and say, “Good morning!” and “The lunch is great.”
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of the day is the hours, but with the rewards from the children being excited about lunch, saying thank you that was good, it’s all worth it.
How do you show school spirit?
I loved taking part in my first Dicken Dash Day, wearing my teams’ blue shirt, and cheering on the runners.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I like to cook, watch a good movie, play with my three cats, and help neighbors and friends.