Staff members Morris and Grushkin honored as “Champions of Youth”

Pictured, from left: Bus driver Jonas Grushkin, Superintendent Dr. Karen Cheser, B&GCLP CEO Vaughn Morris, and Director of Safety & Security Kathy Morris. 
Kathy Morris, who is retiring this year after 23 years, was honored for her work in keeping the school community safe.

"Everybody in the state calls her a rock star," said Superintendent Dr. Karen Cheser. "Kathy's commitment to serve everyone – students, our district facilities, administrators, and school support team members – has equipped our community to teach and learn in a safe environment."
Cheser said during Morris' tenure, she led the way in our emergency protocols, established Safe2Tell and iLoveYouGuys, which were born out of school tragedies. She has established a wide network of support, including work as the Homeland Security Coordinator for the state of Colorado and the San Juan BOCES Safe School Coordinator. 
"I'm honored to win this award, but it's really about relationships, like our partnerships with Durango Fire, law enforcement, the County and the City, and the school district leadership, who ensured we had all the resources that we needed to make sure our kids are safe," said Morris. "While I'm retiring from the school district, I'm invested deeply in the community. I still have a serving heart, and I want to do the best I can to help our youth."

District bus driver Jonas Grushkin was also honored as a Champion of Youth. Each school day, he delivers students to the Boys and Girls Club. As an artist himself, he encourages students to play music, show art, and sing on his bus. Students who ride Grushkin's bus described him in writing: "He is the nicest, coolest guy. He really listens to me. I feel safe on his bus. He is fun." 
Cheser also addressed Grushkin with words of thanks: "The first thing kids see in the morning is their bus driver. And for you to set their day full hope and happiness and creativity – that's such an important thing for our kids," said Cheser. "Also... we need bus drivers," she said, as the crowd laughed. 

At the luncheon, a Durango High School sophomore Celia Gallavan was named the Alpine Bank 2024 Boys & Girls Club of La Plata County Colorado Youth of the Year. She has been a volunteer for three years and models the club's core values. Gallavan spoke about a difficult childhood, and how the club helped her though heartbreaking moments in her family life that involved a courtroom drama.
Celia Gallavan
“The club has helped me build self-advocacy skills and confidence," said Gallavan. "Self advocacy requires bravery. It’s a source of strength for others “

More information about the Boys & Girls Club of La Plata County, or to donate to support daily operations or a renovation project, visit [email protected].