A new set of wheels!

Published 6:49 pm Friday, March 30, 2012

JANIE LOCKARD, a pre-kindergarten teacher at Potter Street Elementary School starts up the new Chevy Volt from Action GM, which she will get to drive for the next month after winning a drawing. The drawing was open to all school employees who had perfect attendance in the previous month.|Justin Schuver

Randy Soden, general manager of Action GM, recently noted that there are lots of contests and awards for school children that have perfect attendance during the year. However, he noticed that there didn’t seem to be any reward for teachers and other school employees that come to work every day.

Action GM recently began a program to meet that need, as every Decatur County Schools employee who has perfect attendance for a month will then enter a drawing. The two drawing winners — one a teacher and one a non-certified employee like a custodian or bus driver — each get the chance to drive a brand-new Action GM vehicle for the following month.
Wednesday, Soden, Action GM employees and school administrators helped put a smile on the face of the first two employees to win the drawing.

Janie Lockard, a pre-kindergarten teacher at Potter Elementary School, won the chance to drive a new Chevy Volt for a month. Gwen Larkin, a custodian at Bainbridge High School, will get to drive a 2012 Chevy Malibu.

Larkin cried and nearly fell over when she was surprised by the visit at BHS on Wednesday afternoon, and got her first look at the new silver vehicle.
“I am so excited, I had no idea that I’d won,” said Larkin, who has been a school employee for more than 30 years. “I love my job and come every day I can.”

BHS Principal Tommie Howell said he thought the program was a great idea and believes it will have a strong benefit.

“It can be real easy for an employee to get up and not feel like coming into work,” he said. “But it’s really important for us to be here. It helps the learning environment when the teachers are at work every day.”

Earlier in the day, Lockard was also surprised by the visit from Action GM as the black Chevy Volt drove right up in front of PSES as she was taking students to recess. It’s hard to know who was more excited — Lockard or her students.

“She’s having the best day ever!” cheered Haisten Wilkinson, one of the students, as she and her classmates crowded around to get a close look at the new car.

Lockard said she lives in Tallahassee, Fla., and was excited about the chance to save gas money on her commute. Soden said the Chevy Volt gets 35 miles on its charge, and then “seamlessly” will switch over to the conventional gas tank. As a result, Lockard should be able to complete her daily commute without having to worry about sucking down much fuel at all.

“I guess I was the lucky one,” she said. “I kind of thought something might be up, cause I was asked for my driver’s license yesterday, but they wouldn’t tell me anything. I think it’s really cool to be able to drive an electric car and I’m excited about getting to save money on gas.”

The winners of the monthly vehicle drawing are responsible for any gas purchases, but Action GM is covering the insurance.

Dr. Fred Rayfield, superintendent of the Decatur County Schools, said he thought the program would be a great success.

“We appreciate Action GM for partnering with us to offer this unique incentive,” he said. “For the system to be successful in its mission, we need our employees to be here every day.”
Soden echoed Rayfield’s comments.

“Our substitute teachers do a great job and we really appreciate them,” he said. “But at the same time, we wanted to do something to encourage our full-time teachers to come to work as much as they can. I hope this program helps make a difference and helps our students learn, because that’s what it’s all about.”