The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

May 24, 2012

'Dynamic duo' make things happen at A-Tech

McQuoid, Carlson tend to details that ensure success of the many school activities

For the Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — Thirty-seven years ago, the “family” here at Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus gained a valuable member. In 1975, Gilda McQuoid began her career at Ashtabula County Joint Vocational School (as A-Tech was formerly known), teaching the Diversified Health Occupations program, now known as the Health Care Technologies program.

From 1975 to 2007, Mrs. McQuoid taught the Diversified Health Occupations program and managed the program’s transition to the current Health Care Technologies program. At some point during that period, she took on the additional task of preparing the school’s senior awards ceremony.

One thing led to another, and for the last 20 years, Mrs. McQuoid has been finding and auditioning the student speakers for the ceremony, and has also been meeting with every department throughout the school. These departments include various A-Tech programs, such as: health care technology, building and grounds, graphic communications, auto collision, welding, horticulture and the Student Ambassadors program. In order to make sure that everything is ready for the graduation ceremony, Mrs. McQuoid meets with program coordinators who assist with decorations, setting up chairs, flower arrangements, the creation of plant hangers, covers for event programs, repainting of plant stands and junior ushers. Once this is completed, she must then order the senior gifts as well as the balloon art. Her creative touch makes the school’s final event of the year a memorable one for its graduating seniors.

In 2007, Mrs. McQuoid became the school’s instructional coordinator. She says that all the things she is entrusted to perform couldn’t be done without the help of administrative assistant Shirley Carlson. Mrs. Carlson has worked at A-Tech for 15 years, and these two extraordinary women are in charge of more activities than many will ever realize. Mrs. Carlson is also in charge of many aspects of the senior awards ceremony, including ordering plaques, creating tickets and ordering and putting together the seniors’ career passports. Throughout the rest of the year, Mrs. Carlson is hard at work ordering student supplies, keeping track of students’ fees and pay plans, issuing work permits, creating monthly statements, sending out the senior awards information, reserving hotels for the school’s organizational field trips, and dealing with almost every aspect of A-Tech that can be handled online.

On the other side of the office, Mrs. McQuoid is always hard at work making sure that everything is being taken care of on schedule. In addition to the extremely important year-end tasks, she also takes care of other special events throughout the year. She makes sure that all of the dues for the Career Technical Student Organization are paid, and she is also in charge of arranging field trips, handling the registration, creating the certificates and recommending fund-raising for the school’s various clubs.

One of her closest friends on the staff, cosmetology instructor Judy Divine, said, “She initiated the canned food drive, the Spirit Chain competition, and the good, old, pie- in the face fund-raisers.” Mrs. Divine says she does it because “she believes in helping people.”

A-Tech principal Jon Whipple, who has worked with Mrs. McQuoid for 34 years, said, “There probably isn’t anyone who has been more devoted and dedicated to the mission of the school than her. She always puts students first.”

Mrs. McQuoid oversees many other activities including the perfect attendance ice cream social and certificates, student of the month applications, pins, and certificates, and making sure that each class earns an average 10 hours per student in community service. Mrs. McQuoid also sets up the arrangements for A-Tech’s semi-annual Red Cross blood drive, as well as the fall volleyball and spring softball tournaments.

One highlight of the school year is also assigned to her. The student lip synch/talent show requires her to send out applications, read the lyrics to each student’s song, screen each act, and run the dress rehearsal. Her attention to detail always makes this one of the days students recall years later. 

She is also in the process of organizing the Senior Farewell and the junior picnic for those with clean discipline and perfect attendance, creating the final LINKS class, and preparing the senior award assembly and senior awards night practice.

Mr. Whipple praised her dedication to the school’s youth clubs. In his estimation, she has been the single biggest influence on student success in youth clubs. For the SkillsUSA organization, Mrs. McQuoid helps coach A-Tech’s Opening and Closing team which, thanks to her generous help, will be competing in national competition this year.

SkillsUSA participation here at A-Tech blossomed under Mrs. McQuoid’s leadership.

“She was the one person who made VICA (a precursor to SkillsUSA) a reality here at A-Tech,” Mrs. Divine said.

Last year, the SkillsUSA organization honored Mrs. McQuoid by presenting her with the “Outstanding Educator of the Year” award, and she says that this is one of her best A-Tech memories.

School librarian Karen Uspenski summed up her colleague by saying, “I have a great deal of admiration and love for Mrs. McQuoid. She is the ultimate education professional.”

Mrs. McQuoid said, “I love my job here. I like the people I work for. I think the people I work for have a main objective, which is the students. That’s why I like working here.”

The staff and students at A-Tech would like to thank Mrs. McQuoid and Mrs. Carlson, for all of the hard work they do on a daily basis. Their efforts are greatly appreciated.