Caring HISD food service worker selected for March Customer Service Impact Award

When students talk about Travis Elementary School, they get excited about a certain campus employee who not only delivers tasty meals, but merits recognition for the way she does it.

Tanshel Jefferson was selected the Customer Service Impact Award winner for March. For fourth-grader Gus Parker, Jefferson is more than just a cafeteria worker.

“She is the perfect fit for the award,” Gus said. “We never see her sad. She is always helpful.”

Jefferson has been working with HISD Nutrition Services for nine years, spending her last three at Travis. She said she was surprised that the staff went all out to celebrate.

“I am so happy that my work here is appreciated,” Jefferson said. “Working with a welcoming group of kids and staff keeps me uplifted every day. Thank you for this award.”

HISD Business Operations employees who lead with customer service excellence add value to their campus. The department proudly recognizes these individuals each month with the Customer Service Impact Award because they are positively influencing others.

All of Jefferson’s extra effort to ensure students eat good food did not go unnoticed by Teacher Specialist Natalia Junkans, who rallied school staff to consider nominating Jefferson for the award. There were 11 responses sent to the nominating committee in praise of Jefferson’s determination.

“I immediately noticed her willingness to treat students with kindness,” Junkans said. “Calling them by name and nurturing them in and out of the cafeteria are social and emotional supports so important to students post-pandemic.”

As 10-year-old Lexi Dominguez put it, Jefferson is not like a regular school worker.

“When she comes into our room for breakfast, sometimes she tells jokes,” Lexi said. “We get to smile with her. The food she brings us tastes good, too.”

David Church, the school’s new principal, was a teacher at the campus 14 years ago. He said he is thrilled by the team spirit that teachers, staff, and especially Jefferson radiate as they cultivate respect among all students, regardless of abilities or economic status.

“When we first met, I could tell that she was a positive force for our students,” Church said. “Now that we are back in the classroom, we will expect even greater things from our students, and that’s possible with the support of Travis staff members like Ms. Jefferson.”