Traci Gould has this tagline on each email: Kindness, sprinkle that stuff around like confetti.
The words mirror the work she accomplishes daily as Family Resource Center Coordinator at Shepherdsville Elementary School.
No surprise, then, that Gould was picked as Bullitt County Citizen of the Year during the annual Bullitt County Chamber of Commerce Membership Dinner in October.
“I was surprised and humbled,” Gould said. “What an honor!”
She began at Shepherdsville Elementary as the first Shepherdsville Elementary School FRC in 2006. In 2010, her center was joined with Nichols Elementary for 8 years until 2018 when her center returned to Shepherdsville Elementary only. Gould is in her 14th year as Family Resource Coordinator.
Her goal is to assist families in reaching self-sufficiency and to help give every student, every opportunity, every day, while helping to remove barriers to education.
That means recognition of work is not about her but whom she serves.
“I am glad to help spread awareness of the roles of the Family Resource Youth Services Centers at each of our BCPS schools,” she affirmed. “This is the first full year that each of the BCPS schools have access to a Family Resource or Youth Services Center and FRYSC is grant funded, so each year it is important for our community and legislators to know what we do and why it necessary to student success.”
Whenever Gould sees students succeed and thrive, she knows the center is working productively.
“I love recognizing those students that give it their all each and every day and encourage them to continue to be the light,” she said. “I love seeing students strive to be significant in the lives of others, mentor others and provide encouragement to others. I love seeing them develop a love for reading and a love for their community. I love seeing them happy and reassured when taking a bag of weekend food home. I love seeing their joy over a new pair of shoes or knitted hats made by our community ladies. I love seeing them go into a new classroom with a bag of school supplies provided by someone in the community that look just like everyone else’s bag of supplies. I am excited to see the playing field leveled for some of our kids that struggle. I love seeing a single mom that has difficulty figuring life out, finally rise above, and be what she wants to be for herself and for her kids.”
One of her favorite moments from this school year was the community book sponsorship.
“I made a random post on my personal Facebook page about how cool it would be to provide a new book to every Shepherdsville Elementary student each month all year long, and that for $10 a student we could do that,” she explained. “Responses started with individuals saying ‘I’ll take one, or I’ll take 2...or 10’ and progressed to small business challenges of 25 or more students and within 8 days of that original post, all 567 of our students were covered and are now receiving a new book each month and are so excited about it! That was so amazing to be a part of! I love hearing ‘Do we get to keep this book forever?’ and ‘Am I the first one to have this book, can I put MY name in it?’ There are some students in our school that did not have books at home until now. Our community provided someone their very first new book in their home. That’s pretty awesome to think about.”
Resources to assist students overcome barriers to learning often require financial support and that is an area of concern for all FRYSCs.
“The biggest challenge for me this year is lack of grant funding in my center,” Gould affirmed. “What do I do to overcome it? I utilize everything free that I can find and when it isn’t free I ask our community members and businesses for help. I am always so proud to live in this community when our area small businesses and residents of Shepherdsville and Bullitt County step up to the plate EVERY SINGLE TIME. I mean every time. I am never disappointed with their love for the students and their future vision that these kids are the next generation of business owners, leaders, parents, police, fire fighters, real estate agents. They see the value of investing in kids, and it is amazing for these kids to feel supported. Our future police chief, attorneys, or electricians may be in this group of students. By teaching them that our community wraps around each other and wants to build these kids up, the hope is that they will become contributing members of our society and continue to build our community. We also strive to overcome negative press regarding our community. We are so much more than that!”
Gould wants to continue to provide books to all of her students each month all year long, and will rely on my community to help provide that again in the future.
“I want to build beds again for children without a place to sleep, and school supplies to children without them. I want to continue to partner with our high school in as many ways as we can, to encourage life-long learning and future goals of our students. I want to be a partner in raising future leaders of our community,” she said.