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Lee rules the roost
Mattie Lively lunch room manager loves staff, kids
Sharmane Lee Unsung for Web
Sharmane Lee, who runs the lunch room at Mattie Lively Elementary School, is shown with school principal Jennifer Herrington. - photo by ROGER ALLEN/special
    In Mattie Lively Elementary School's lunch room, Sharmane Lee quietly rules the roost. A graduate of Statesboro High School in 1980, she was raised in Statesboro by her parents, Joseph and Louise Hendrix.
    She and her husband Herman Lee raised their four children in Statesboro: Carolyn, who is a pre-law student at UGA; Prathon, who is in the business program at Albany State University; Antoine, who is in the Air Force Reserve; and Herman Lee III.
    The lunch room staff at Mattie Lively is in reality an extension of her family, Lee said, as she's known most of them all of her adult life. They are: assistant lunch room manager Lynn Hendrix, Patricia Hendrix, Scarlet Driggers, Barbara Coleman and Sharon Hill.
    Lee first worked at Willingway Hospital as a cook, and then began “subbing” in kitchens in the Bulloch County public schools, particularly the old Statesboro High School and the old William James School.
    From there she went to Langston Chapel, and accepted the job of assistant lunch room manager at Mill Creek, where she remained for 10 years. She came to Mattie Lively about four years ago, and states quite matter-of-factly that she has no plans to leave.
    At Mattie Lively, her crew serves some 200 hundred breakfasts, 400 hundred lunches, and then some 80 snacks for the after-school kids. Their busiest lunch day is Chicken Wednesday, especially when it's of the fried variety.
    The biggest meal of the year for Miss Sharmane is coming up quickly: Mattie Lively's Annual Family Thanksgiving Dinner. Mattie Lively Principal Jennifer Herrington said the annual event is a huge undertaking.
    The two ladies have been working on getting everything set up well in advance, for neither Herrington nor Lee want any last minutes surprises for the 500 additional mouths they expect to feed.
    On the special day, Herrington said, not only are all the families fed, but there also is a special ceremony to honor retired Mattie Lively faculty. Miss Lee said it is a matter of honor that everything be just right.
    Lee comes in every morning by 6 a.m., and doesn't leave until sometime after 3 pm. Taking care of the kids at Mattie Lively has become her mission. Lee said, “I treat every child here as if they could be my own. They know they can come here and they'll be O.K.”
    A Deaconess at New Hope Baptist Church in Register, she believes that every person has his or her own special calling. For her, it's Mattie Lively.
    “This place is my peace of mind.”
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