Spreading a heart throughout GHS

By: Lily McGinnis

In the entertainment world there are those one-named, easily recognizable figures: Cher, Madonna, and Beyonce. Inside Godwin High School there’s Marge. Marge Cipolla is known for her service to others in the Godwin community. Cipolla is the Administrative Assistant to the Principal and Office Supervisor, and she takes pride in her work.
Godwin science teacher Samantha Cope says, “Marge is what keeps Godwin running- I call her ‘Marge in Charge.’ Marge is the heart of Godwin and is one of the best principal secretaries I have ever worked with.”
Cipolla started at Godwin in July of 2009. She is from Buffalo, a huge Bills fan, and has two grown children, Chris and Raechel, and three dogs.
As Administrative Assistant to the Principal and Office Supervisor, Cipolla has many prescribed duties including payroll, variances, communications to and for the principal, and calendars of events.
However, it is the unprescribed and extra things where Cipolla has earned “Marge” status. Cipolla goes way past her job description to give back to everyone at Godwin. Cipolla has recruited over 20 community partners and each year the school receives $60,000 from them. These community partners work with Cipolla to give donations for a variety of purposes.
Cipolla is Godwin’s Student of the Week coordinator and she makes Student of the Week something special. Cipolla manages and selects from the teachers’ nominations. She also procures all student gift donations of t-shirts, a gift certificate to the Melting Pot, a Jersey Mike’s Subs coupon, a Chick Fil A sandwich coupon, a free fried ice cream from Mi Jalisco, soap from Buff City Soap, cups, pens, and more. Cipolla wants to make the gifts full of experiences, “Not just something the kids will throw away.”
It takes time for people to donate the gifts, says Cipolla, and it takes negotiating and contracting to secure these donations. For example, Cipolla has to order t-shirts and maintain a vendor, and for 13 years she has kept a relationship with the same vendor to keep costs low. Cipolla says, “You have to keep the vendors happy.” Cipolla’s favorite part of Student of the Week is to see the students excited. Cipolla says, “It brightens my Monday seeing these students happy.” Cipolla distributes the awards to students and reads what the nominating teacher said about them in person. When the winners leave her office, they go with between $50 – $60 worth of merchandise.
Cipolla also coordinates the Most Valuable Eagle award with a community partner. She customizes the watch or jewelry to the recipient’s personality. Cipolla says, “If the student is more sporty, I will get them something simple, and if they are stylish and chic, I will get them something elegant.”
Every Godwin teacher has an added reason for “TGIF.” Each Friday for the last seven years, Cipolla has picked up over 100 bagels and accommodations from a community partner. The staff knows this as Bagel Friday.
Another day that is well liked by the Godwin staff is Tuesday, Publix Day. Cipolla arrives at Godwin at 7 am to meet and sort food from the Publix truck. The truck is full with Publix donations from leftover bread, cakes, and desserts. Cipolla gives the food to the Godwin food pantry first, and the rest gets distributed to the faculty and staff.

Teacher Appreciation Week is the first week in May. Cipolla gets about 160 different companies to donate gifts for Godwins teachers. Some of these are community partners, but most are companies that Cipolla recruits herself. Cipolla says, “I want to give the teachers experiences that they can go on with a spouse or friend.” She has gathered gift certificates and prizes consisting of massages, mani-pedis, a six month gym membership at the YMCA, chiropractor, trips to a winery, dinner dates, Air BNB stays, vet visits, and more.
In the conference room throughout Teacher Appreciation Week, there are 100-115 gift bags labeled with what is in each. Teachers get three tickets and can bid on any gift bag they want. Every teacher goes home with something on top of getting food throughout the whole week.

In total, Cipolla receives between $30,000 and $40,000 worth of donations from community partners for teacher appreciation week. Planning for teacher appreciation week begins in January for Cipolla. She says, “Starting in January, sometimes I am picking up donations five – six times per week.” Cipolla hand writes every donor a thank you card. She also advertises for the donors and contributors in the Eagle Express newsletter so everyone who contributed is recognized.
The Hospitality group works with Cipolla. Martha Shippee, Andrea Mulvaney, Mary Hutchenson, and Debbie Ross are four people in the Hospitality group who are really important to Cipolla. They buy orchids when people have a baby or there is a sickness, surgery, or death in the family. Cipolla coordinates to get a dinner for everyone in their household. As the hospitality coordinator, Cipolla organizes holiday and end of the year luncheons. She also orders and picks up all the retirement gifts for the retirees.

Cipolla coordinates table and holiday decorations for events with assistance from hospitality and coordinates with hospitality for retrieving food. The hospitality ladies are important to Cipolla. Cipolla says, “I couldn’t imagine working with three better people.” They arrange everything with Cipolla that gets done for the faculty and when she has to set up for an event these ladies make it really easy.
All of Cipolla’s hard work does not go unnoticed. She received the Heart of Henrico Award in March of 2018. The Godwin principal nominated Cipolla from Godwin, and she was chosen to receive the reward from the central office. Cipolla also received the Above and Beyond Call of Duty Award.
Cipolla does not have to do all these extra things around Godwin. When asked what makes her want to do all of these extra deeds, Cipolla responded with, “My parents raised me to be kind and compassionate. I grew up giving back to charities, and I was always told that when we got money, we should give some back to somebody else. It is important to give back and it is easy to give back when I love my community.”

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