After being the subject of several local and statewide newspaper articles, featured locally and on NBC Nightly News, Janet Throgmorton laughs when asked if she’s afraid she may become a household name.
“I’m afraid people are going to get so sick of seeing my name,” the Fancy Farm Elementary principal said. “Get this woman off the TV!”
Throgmorton — or “Ms. Janet” as her students call her — had a little more time in the spotlight this week on The Drew Barrymore Show, talking about her work outside of the principal’s office and in the seat of a school bus picking up and dropping off students during the week to help fill in some vacancies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It certainly has been overwhelming, to say the least,” she said during a phone interview Friday about the media attention she’s garnered.
Throgmorton had earned her CDL to help out with transporting students. During this school year, one bus driver was fighting breast cancer and two more were battling the coronavirus. So she and another bus driver combined the school’s four routes into two and have been driving students morning and afternoon. She said her extra role is simply for the kids. “They enjoy me driving.”
She’s also quick to point out what she is doing isn’t any more than anyone else would do during these times.
“I don’t feel like I’m doing anything that anybody else couldn’t or wouldn’t or shouldn’t do, considering the circumstances we’re in,” she said. “It really boils down to, in the profession I’m in, you almost have to enter it with a servant’s heart, because that’s really what it’s about. We have the privilege to educate kids, but we’re also there to serve them and their families in any capacity that we can.”
It is in that spirit Throgmorton was recognized this week on Barrymore’s syndicated show as a “Drew-Gooder,” people who the actress highlights and interviews for their good deeds of helping others.
To help her and Fancy Farm staff and students, Barrymore announced organizational supply company Erin Condren was donating $15,000 worth of office and school supplies to Fancy Farm Elementary.
Even with a full day of overseeing the education and other aspects of school life for the students at Fancy Farm Elementary School, as well as factoring in personal family time, her persistence in — literally and figuratively — going the extra mile has been noticed. Still, Throgmorton considers that just part of the job, too.
She also pointed out that with Fancy Farm, the Graves County and Mayfield districts being able to have in-person learning during the pandemic when other schools have not, makes being there for her students and their families that much more vital.
“You almost have to go at it that we’ll make this work at all costs; whatever it took,” Throgmorton said. “We knew there were going to be times we’d be shorthanded with staff and we knew there would be times when kids or teachers would be quarantined and we had to work around that to keep the learning going, and we knew there’d be kids who were going to choose virtual and how do we keep them included and keep things moving for them, and we knew it would take extra effort on our part to make it successful. It was just choosing to be willing to do that even if it took more of our own time.”
But to address the needs and long hours, Throgmorton said prayer and a daily routine help her personally.
“(Superintendent Matthew) Madding talks about how important self care is. If you don’t take care of yourself, it’s hard to continue to do those things at the pace we’re doing those,” she said. “I definitely attack it all prayerfully. I believe in the power the Lord gives us to move forward and He will provide.
“When I started driving the bus in the mornings as well, I get up at 4 a.m., that way I’d have a morning exercise routine and a bible study routine, and I wanted to continue to do those,” she added. “So it has required getting up a little earlier, which requires going to bed a little earlier.”
Through the adjustments, personally and professionally, Throgmorton said it is the kids who are the top priority in setting an example that hopefully will help get them back to a sense of normalcy.
“I tell myself this won’t last forever. We will see an end. Normal may not exactly be the normal we knew before, but I do believe we’ll get back to a place where we can live our lives in a way we were living before,” she said. “When we get to that point, I want our kids to not be behind. And their families are struggling. If kids are having to be home on NTI, then it’s a struggle for parents to work and it’s a struggle to get child care and we know that.
“If we can have their kid at school, feeding them and taking care of those needs, it makes home life a little more normal.”