November 18, 2022 Believe. Achieve. Succeed

Alum, ‘lunch teacher’ finds kindness is king

Juanita Evans
#SCCSD alum Juanita Evans has made a career of helping people. As a member of the District's food service department, Juanita has found her role is more than serving food. It's caring for people.

Sioux City, Iowa – Juanita Evans’ heart is in Morningside.

A Sioux City Community Schools alum, Juanita has spent countless hours at Morningside STEM Elementary School, first as a parent volunteer when her daughters were attending school and, today, as a team member in the District’s food service department at the school. When Juanita joined Food Service in 2021, she asked to work at Morningside STEM Elementary School.

“When my children were students at Morningside Elementary, I had the privilege to help in the classroom for multiple teachers doing whatever was needed. I found it very rewarding to be a part of the process of educating these kids – even if my part was rather small,” says Juanita. “Over those years, I also volunteered with the PTA and served on the board as president, vice president, and treasurer. Morningside Elementary has a dear place in my heart, which is why I requested to work in this particular school.”

A chance to return to the school where she spent so much time volunteering and the flexibility of working in the food service department was attractive to Juanita. As her parents’ caretaker, it also allowed her to balance a career and responsibilities at home.

“I have the best of so many worlds. I get to work in a positive environment with little people who are in need of a good meal and a smile. Work finishes at a time when I can still get my parents to their doctor appointments and help with whatever is needed,” says Juanita.

It’s working with those ‘little people’ that Juanita finds rewarding. Students’ stories about their weekend experiences, vacations, and sibling births keep Juanita on her toes – and fill her bucket.

“It has been rewarding to earn the trust of students who share their exciting stories or a new joke. They also share their sad or disappointing moments like illnesses, injuries, or heartbreaks with friends,” says Juanita. “Some students call us their ‘lunch teachers’ which warms my heart. It’s more than serving food. It’s caring for people.”

It is a feeling that Juanita’s dad also experienced, working in food service at Irving Dual Language Elementary School for nine years. While Juanita’s family referred to her dad’s job as his “retirement position,” he took ownership of his job and truly loved the work he did at “his school” adds Juanita.

Juanita’s dad likely felt the same way about his job that Juanita does at her school, Morningside STEM Elementary School.

“I’ve learned that kids are straightforward and really don’t attempt to be something they are not. We all want to experience respect and kindness truly is king – between coworkers and between staff and students,” says Juanita.

When she isn’t making connections at Morningside, Juanita loves spending time on her deck on a beautiful day for Bible study, her “happy place”. She also enjoys family time with her husband, Kyle, and three daughters – Brooke, Ally, and Chloe, two of whom are pursuing full-time ministry work. Cruising around in her 1971 Mach 1 Mustang, planting flowers, baking, and teaching Sunday School at her school round out Juanita’s free time.

After spending a career helping people, Juanita says she has learned a few invaluable lessons along the way.

“I’ve learned that a job doesn’t need to have a fancy title or a glamorous wardrobe to be fulfilling. A positive environment and being appreciated is worth more than a monumental salary. Food service is a team effort and the team at Morningside Elementary is a really good team.”