Administrative Assistant recognized

First quarter Vita Plena Award recipient


Vita Plena Award recipient Mary Alice Gamble poses outside of the NC office in room 110, the Curriculum and Instruction office (Mardegan/LION).

Jeanne Mardegan, News Editor, Web Editor

While working at LT in the Curriculum and Instruction office for the past 18 years, Mary Alice Gamble never imagined being honored as a Vita Plena Award recipient, as the award of dedication and devotion has typically gone to a teacher, she said. Gamble was filled with shock when Superintendent Brian Waterman told her the news.

“I was stunned,” Gamble said. “I was surprised because [my] job is more behind the scenes, and I never in a million years thought that I would be the recipient [of the award].”

Gamble attended college at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, where she studied fine arts and graphic arts. Out of college, Gamble worked in advertising, taking time off from work when she had her children, she said. Wanting to rejoin the workforce, she took a position at the La Grange Area Department of Special Education (LADSE), working for the head of professional development and the Illinois Autism Project. When the grant-funded program dissolved, Gamble was out of work for six weeks and saw an opening at LT.

Remaining in the same position since she started in 2005, Gamble currently works alongside Director of Curriculum and Instruction Scott Eggerding. She handles new curriculum proposals, updating the academic program guide, and grant spending.

“I really work with great people here, and I feel like there’s a lot of people who deserve the Vita Plena Award, not just me,” Gamble said. “It’s just nice [to be] recognized.”

The Vita Plena Award was founded in 1991 by now-retired superintendent Dennis Kelly.  It’s been carried on through the years by previous Superintendent Tim Kilrea and now Waterman as a way to honor staff members who exhibit dedication, commitment and service to others creativity, Waterman said.

“Last year was really a year of transition [with the Curriculum and Instruction office adding] two new [positions] with Ms. [Leslie] Owens and Dr. [Jennifer] Rowe,” Waterman said. “Mary Alice was a lynchman in navigating through it. She’s been a longtime employee and does such great work, and it feels like she really embodies what the Vita Plena Award is about.” 

Working with LTTV, Waterman wrangled together staff members to create a secret video for Gamble, released after the formal announcement was made at the Sept. 19 school board meeting. Gamble was told of the honor a few weeks prior, as a way to give her the chance to invite friends and family to the meeting, Waterman said. Waterman plans to continue the award as a way to shed light on the unsung heroes of the LT team.

“It’s such a great tradition at LT that was started by Dr. Kelly many years ago,” Waterman said. “Dr. Kilrea continued the tradition and it’s something that I’m really proud to continue as well. I think that any way we can recognize staff who do an amazing job is something we want to continue to do.”