The school day is out, and in Classroom B22 of Fritsch Elementary School, instructional assistant Lisa Holland and five students work their way through an important piece of children's literature.
"You don't want the Gingerbread Man to know you're going to eat him," Holland says to third-grader Cheyenne Johnson, who is reading the role of the sly old fox. "So you're very sly right now."
"You're an actress, you can do it," Holland encourages her.
It is for support like this that the Carson City School District administration selected her as its Classified Employee of the Year. For this recognition, Holland received a check, a plaque, a gift certificate to Chili's Grill & Bar, a cake and flowers.
"It was a tremendous feeling to be chosen," she said.
Holland was recognized at the most recent Carson City School Board meeting. Nominees from each of the school sites as well as from several departments were recognized.
"I truly wanted everyone in the room to win," Holland said. "Like when I was back in high school, I wanted everyone to get the same reward. I felt very honored by the company I was in."
Holland joined the Fritsch staff six years ago in a part-clerical, part-instructional assistant position. Now, out of a need at the school and because of her effectiveness at the job, Holland works full time helping students improve their reading.
"I work with two wonderful teachers," Holland said. "We're a team of three, and we all interact with each other. They model for me what I should do and guide me if I need assistance."
Those teachers are Shirley Larson and Kerrie Laack.
"The main thing I've noticed about Lisa is she likes to understand why she's doing something," Laack said. "That particularly helps us working with struggling readers, in that she's very sensitive to them and encouraging. She's a natural nurturer, which is wonderful."
"She's outgoing, she's friendly, she's bubbly, and enjoys working with students, and they can tell," Larson said. "Sometimes, students are reluctant to come to reading lab - it can be a stigma - and she makes it OK."
Holland first started at Fritsch by volunteering for lunch duty and subbing for teachers when needed. Her daughter, Kristen was in the school at the time, but she is now an eighth-grader at Carson Middle School. Her husband, Lou, works for the state.
Tuesday afternoon, as Holland's group of students finished "The Gingerbread Man," third-grader Michaela Lindeck stopped to sum up Holland's effect on her reading skills.
"My concentration is getting better," she said. "I'm focusing more. I'm not looking up at the ceiling. I did that because back then I didn't really like reading, and now I do."