Kennadria Lloyd and Crystal Macias, two teachers at The Acorn School, and Magdalena Paszewska, administrative officer in the Department of Chemistry, are the latest recipients of the Chancellor’s Heart and Soul Staff Appreciation Award.
Presented by Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente, the award recognizes staff for going above and beyond what is assigned or expected in their role and embodying the spirit, mission and values of the Vanderbilt community in all that they do. Nominations are submitted by supervisors, managers or colleagues for current university staff.
Each Heart and Soul honoree is awarded a $1,500 cash prize as well as an engraved, custom-made wooden box and pen set, created by local artist Brenda Stein and carved from historic wood repurposed from Alumni Hall.
Wente surprised Lloyd and Macias with the award during an Oct. 31 visit to their classroom at The Acorn School, an early childhood care and education program within the multi-resource Vanderbilt Child and Family Center. The teachers were nominated by the parents of children at The Acorn School. Several of the parent nominators, who are current and former Vanderbilt staff and faculty, were present when Wente presented the award.
“Kennadria, you pair high standards for your students with a fun and positive environment that encourages them to grow on a personal level. Crystal, your generosity, patience and creative energy have made an impact on students and parents alike,” Wente said. “Your ability to work together as a team is remarkable, and my heartfelt thanks and congratulations goes to both of you.”
The nominations for Lloyd and Macias highlighted their teamwork and impact in the classroom. “Kennadria and Crystal each go above and beyond in their own ways, but they truly shine together,” noted one parent nomination letter for the teachers. “As a pair, they have engaged our children in ways that have broadened their interests and helped them to exceed age-based milestones.”
Another parent wrote, “They have created an environment where our children are not just occupied and safe, but thriving and coming alive—and becoming the very best versions of what we, as parents, hope for them.”
Paszewska, who has worked at Vanderbilt for more than 16 years, was presented with the Heart and Soul Award by Wente during the Department of Chemistry’s monthly staff meeting on Nov. 1. She was nominated by several colleagues who noted her dedication, kindness and commitment to excellence throughout her time in the department.
“We are grateful for the work ethic, expertise and generous spirit that you bring to work every day,” Wente said. “Whether it be training and onboarding new staff, ordering labware or coordinating faculty grants and proposals, you are clearly an anchor for the entire department. You treat others with respect and with care, and I am so happy to have this opportunity to honor you.”
“Magdalena has gracefully supported our department and faculty, and with an infectious smile,” said Renã A.S. Robinson, associate professor of chemistry and Dorothy J. Wingfield Phillips Chancellor’s Faculty Fellow, who nominated Paszewska. “She is extremely talented, knowledgeable, and has a gift of moving many things forward at a time. She is deeply committed to our department and to Vanderbilt University.”
David Cliffel, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor and former chair of the department, shared similar sentiments in his nomination letter, saying, “Magdalena really is the heart and soul of the Chemistry department in the truest sense and spirit of this award.”
The Chancellor’s Heart and Soul Staff Appreciation Award was established by Chancellor Emeritus Nicholas S. Zeppos in 2017 to honor the efforts of staff across the university. The chancellor presents the awards to staff during visits to their workplaces or in group settings.
Learn more about the Chancellor’s Heart and Soul Staff Appreciation Award at vanderbilt.edu/chancellor.