Public employees across the nation give back to their communities in extraordinary ways every single day. From donating to food banks to helping neighbors and protecting their communities, public employees have always been there when their community needs them the most. 

Here are stories of public employees committed to servicing their community:

How an elementary school is helping Eastern Kentucky flooding victims find relief by Krista Johnson. Public schools around the country are often viewed as places where the community can gather. In times of tragedy, such as the recent catastrophic flooding in eastern Kentucky, one elementary school has become a place for hope. Pikesville Valley Elementary School in Pikeville, Kentucky, has turned into a place of refuge for those suffering the effects of the violent storms throughout that corner of the state. School staff, families, the American Red Cross, and church groups have volunteered their help by providing food, shelter, and even tetanus shots – required for those who have not been vaccinated in the last five years and were exposed to flood water. “We’ve been very fortunate to have what we have here,” Assistant Principal Robert Kiser said of the packed room. “This community has really pulled together to help each other out. And no one is here to do anything but to help their neighbors out.”

Anderson County teacher inspiring others to pay it forward by Allison Smith. As students and teachers head back to the classroom after the summer break, teachers are doing their best to gather the school supplies they can. The supplies can be expensive for teachers, who in most cases have to pay for them out-of-pocket. To help with the cost, Shana Readel, a fifth-grade teacher at Claxton Elementary School, created the East Tennessee Teachers #ClearTheList2022 Facebook page. The Facebook page is where teachers can post their Amazon wishlists for the upcoming school year, and community members can donate supplies. Since the initiative began over two weeks ago, more than 500 people have joined to help. “When I started seeing other teachers helping, it just really made me so excited about our profession and instilled this confidence in me that this is working and that the teachers are really supporting one another,” said Readel. 

Retired Harford County teacher honored by former student on the Today’ show by Tony Roberts. A current adjunct professor at Howard School of Law and partner at a law firm in Washington, DC, honored her former seventh-grade middle school teacher on the Today show. Ester Lim, who moved from South Korea to Edgewood, Maryland, in 1983 at the age of 12, could not speak good English. Her teacher, Jean Herbert, not only taught Lim English over the summer but also to Lim’s entire family. “You got a little child coming in that cannot speak English in your room, but you want to make their time there as meaningful as possible,” Herbert said. “I saw that she had [a] need, which was being able to speak the language, and I wanted to make sure she had that opportunity to learn during the summer.” As Maryland is facing a teacher shortage this year, Lim thought it was important to share her story with the nation, hoping to share what essential role teachers play in their communities. “As a teacher, she really changed the course of my academic potential,” Lim said. “It was clear to me that what she did for me that first summer for me and my family really enabled me to thrive in high school. She really means the world to me.”