Damian Anderson, a kindergarten assistant at Mineral Springs Elementary School, is Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School’s 2013 Classified Employee of the Year.
Anderson was working with students in teacher Glenstene Bailey’s classroom when Superintendent Don Martin and others surprised him on March with the announcement. Martin asked the students, “You guys like Mr. Anderson?”
“Yeah!” they shouted. When Anderson was asked what made him happiest, Martin told the students, he answered that it was helping students learn.
“What makes him happiest is when you all are being successful in your school work,” Martin said.
Anderson, who has been at Mineral Springs for eight years, was one of 151 people in the school system nominated for the honor. He has also worked as a teacher assistant in the fourth and second grades at Mineral Springs. Principal Debra Gladstone said that she appreciates Anderson’s flexibility and consistently positive attitude.
“Wherever there is a need, he is always willing to go there,” Gladstone said.
Another one of his strengths is his rapport with students, Gladstone said.
“He works very hard to forge relationships with kids and that is key,” she said.
Anderson’s responsibilities at Mineral Springs Elementary include working one-on-one with students and with small groups on reading, math and science.
Anderson chose to work at the elementary-school level because he wants to help students establish strong foundations for the rest of their lives.
“My attitude when I walk through the door is I have a young person’s mind under my care every day.”
Anderson grew up in Winston-Salem. He went to Moore Elementary and Walkertown Middle schools. At Carver High School, he played defensive back on the football team. He was president of his junior and senior class and graduated in 1994. He headed to Morehouse College in Atlanta, planning to become a teacher.
A number of people in his family have been connected with education one way or another, including his father, Rudy Anderson, who is now the internal communications manager at Winston-Salem State University. Earlier on in his career, Rudy Anderson taught at Carver.
The Classified Employee of the Year is a program of the Classified Advisory Council. Anderson was chosen by a nine-member committee that included the 2012 Classified Employee of the Year Denise McCoy, who is the parent-involvement coordinator at Konnoak Elementary School, as well as such others as Carol Montague-Davis, the assistant superintendent for secondary schools.
In addition to his job at Mineral Springs, Anderson is an associate minister at United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church, where he serves as the superintendent of the Sunday School.
“Spirituality has always been a huge part of my life,” he said.
When he was in college, Anderson was already thinking about becoming a minister as well, and, after graduating from Morehouse in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in education, he went to Duke Divinity School for a year before deciding that he wanted to start teaching. He went to work for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, first as a fourth-grade teacher at Ashley Elementary and then at Ibraham Elementary.
The other finalists for 2013 Classified Employee of the Year were Marion Tuttle, the lead secretary at the Career Center; Elaine Sapp, a secretary at East Forsyth Middle School; Brian Smith, the coordinator for in-school suspension and the alternative learning center at Walkertown High School.
On April 24, Anderson and the finalists will be recognized at a reception scheduled for 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Education Building, 4801 Bethania Station Road.