The halls of Stratton Elementary School are filled with smiles and “hellos” from staff and students. Andrea “DeeDee” Stratton will tell you it’s always like that. The friendly and welcoming environment is one of the many reasons she chose to stay at the school that bears her name for 10 years and plans to stay there until her retirement.
In October 1990, Stratton went for an interview with MNPS on a Wednesday or Thursday, received a TB shot the next day, and started as a cashier at Whites Creek High School in the cafeteria the following Monday. Since then, she has been part of the District Nutrition Services Department.
Today, 32 years later, Stratton is responsible for nutrition services at Stratton Elementary, Bellshire Design Center and Madison Middle. She has overseen this group of schools for the past 10 years, with stints at a few other MNPS schools including McGavock High, John Early Middle, and Whites Creek High. Born and raised in Nashville, Stratton also attended MNPS schools and graduated from Maplewood High in 1982.
Today is a busy day for Stratton – it’s Oven Fried Chicken Day, a new employee is starting at Madison Middle and she’s also training a new manager. Stratton says her phone rings from the moment she walks in until the moment she leaves.
She remains busy overseeing meal programs at each of her schools. Every day, she manages the cafeteria staff, ensures health and safety standards are met, performs inventory and food orders, while often training new employees and replacing as needed.
A lot has changed with MNPS and the Department of Nutrition Services during Stratton’s tenure, but what has remained constant is his work ethic and commitment to bringing healthy meals to every student who comes through. cafeteria line.
Each meal offered by MNPS must meet specific nutritional needs, which is not always available at home. Stratton is proud to see students enjoy the school meals she and her team serve daily and to know that students are eating a balanced diet.
School meals are a basic need for students and their readiness to learn. Stratton knows that students need complete, healthy meals to perform at their best, and she is happy to provide them.
“It’s all about the students and knowing that when they’re eating, they’re happy,” she said.
Stratton Elementary, Bellshire Design Center and Madison Middle have special places in the heart of Stratton. What she loves most about the schools are the staff and students she sees every day. She says she has the full support of the staff at each school and talks about them like they are family.
When asked about someone she looks up to, Stratton will quickly say Dr. Braina Corke, Assistant Director of Nutrition Services. Corke and Stratton started at MNPS around the same time, 32 years ago, when Corke worked payroll and Stratton was a cashier.
“In all my years working with Dr. Corke, I never saw her angry, upset or short,” Stratton said. “You can call her anytime, and she’ll be there to listen and help you. She is the last to leave and the first to arrive in the morning.
Stratton will say that she is generally an ordinary person. She orders chicken tenders and fries when she goes to a restaurant (Texas Roadhouse has the best), she likes to shop with her friends, and she enjoys watching tennis in her spare time – even though she already knows who wins.
But when you ask his hero, Corke, about him, Corke will say that Stratton is a high-spirited person “who cares about every student who participates in the meal program at his schools. She firmly believes that her students deserve the best every day, and she and her teams deliver every day. »
Colleagues and friends of Stratton will agree that she is a passionate and fundamental member of MNPS and anything but ordinary.
Healthy meals at no cost for MNPS students
Every year Metro Nashville gets new foods, and Stratton is always eager to give students new items to try and hear their thoughts. Some of the new breakfast favorites this year are Apple Cinnamon Toast and Chocolate Croissant.
Stratton and MNPS Nutrition Services recognize the diverse dietary preferences and needs of each student. They offer a wide range of food options for students to choose from, including vegetarian and gluten-free meals. Each meal offered also prioritizes healthy eating focused on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein.
Many students rely on the MNPS Nutrition Services Program as a source of a healthy, hearty meal. All schools in MNPS serve free breakfast to all students, and this 2022-23 school year, all students are offered lunch at no cost through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). Students who stay after school for any reason – whether in a tutoring program, an after-school club, or simply because they missed the bus – can also go to the cafeteria and receive a meal free of charge. .
Although breakfast and lunch school meals are free this year, families eligible for free and reduced meals must apply online or submit documents provided by their school, as the program also helps families connect with things like:
- discounts for fees associated with college application processes
- scholarships and fee reductions for SAT, ACT and AP tests
- benefits such as SNAP and Families First