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NCSS director gets state award for mentoring

COVINGTON -- If she didn't know it before, Jan Loomans, Newton County School System School Food Service director, knows now that others are watching her.

The Georgia Department of Education's School Nutrition Program Division recently named Loomans the 2009 School Nutrition Mentor of the Year.

Former food service manager at Challenge Charter Academy Jodie Coleman, who was unable to be contacted, nominated Loomans for the work she did with getting the school's food program started last year and for the time and guidance she provides to new managers during their first year on the job.

"Jan has taken me under her wing from the beginning. She has helped me understand and follow state and federal rules and regulations," reads the recommendation form. "She took the initiative to come review my practices and took the time to offer suggestions. Even though she has other schools, she still makes time for me when she doesn't have to."

In June, the GaDOE requested individuals nominate experienced directors who assist new ones with program-related operations and problems and who serve as a mentor towards them.

"Jan has done everything for me. She is my support," the recommendation reads. "Jan is very knowledgeable and consistent. She offers assistance anytime I need it, whether she has time or not. She is great."

Loomans said she was just trying to help.

"It was her first year, and I was just helping her get through her first year," Loomans said. "I would help answer her questions or get somebody to answer them."

Loomans, who received the award during the School Nutrition Directors' Conference last month, said it came as a surprise to her.

"I had no idea I was even nominated," she said. "It's always an honor to receive an award, but when you receive it from an individual you supported, to have that effort recognized is a real honor for me."