No matter what changes are made or who attends Stephens Elementary School cook Jeanette Murphy still serves breakfast and lunch to children every day with a smile. Murphy has worked in the school’s kitchen for almost four decades.
“She has a great personality, always has a smile on her face and she’s an all-around people person,” kitchen manager Tracy Thomas said. “When you ask her to do something, she doesn’t hesitate; she’s going to do it.”
Murphy started at Stephens in the 1980s and has been there ever since. She has stayed at the job for so long because she likes seeing the smiling students every day.
“I like cooking, I like the people I work with and I like the kids,” Murphy said. “Stephens is a good place to work.”
Murphy now cooks for some former students’ children and is recognized by now grown up former students when she’s shopping at the grocery store.
A Coosa County native, Murphy just needed a job when she was 21. She had no idea her work at Stephens’ cafeteria would turn into a lifelong career.
Murphy was a server for four years before being promoted. Now her typical day beings with breakfast preparation at 6 a.m. before serving the students then preparing for lunch. Afterwards she may help with cleaning and goes home by 3 or 4 p.m.
“I do about everything that’s in the kitchen except being the manager,” Murphy said.
Thomas said Murphy is so dedicated to the job the staff sometimes has to force her to go home when she’s under the weather.
“I wish more (employees) were like her,” Thomas said.
Because Murphy has worked at Stephens so long she helps tother employees with cooking getting accustomed to the kitchen, according to Thomas.
“She’s really good when it comes to safety too,” Thomas said. “That’s a plus when it comes to the kitchen.”
Murphy has used her catering skills to cook for church meals and parties because she has learned how to account for so many people. Even outside of work she likes cooking when she goes home.
Pizza is one of her favorite things to make because it’s easy.
One of Murphy’s favorite memories was when she and her co-workers laughed after they cooked the wrong meal for students.
“We all get along here at Stephens,” Murphy said. “We work together well.”