Veteran staff member wins annual Marion Hays award

By Neha Nimmagadda

Gerson Roche was rewarded for his loyalty with the Marion Hays Award in front of faculty and staff last Tuesday.

Roche is a long time employee at the Harvard-Westlake middle school campus, a place he considers “the best place to work.” The award is given annually to faculty and staff who show “loyal and dedicated service to the school; friendliness, good humor and encouragement; patience and thoughtful consideration for all members of the school community,” according to the award citation.

The award is given in memory of Marion Hays, a teacher, dorm head and assistant headmaster at Harvard School from 1944 until 1970, and his wife Babe. The award is given by their sons and includes a letter and check for the recipient.

“This honor is given to someone who lives his or her life much like Marion Hays did and gives back to the school the same way Marion Hays did,” Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts said.

Roche is a maintenance worker at the Middle School. He started working at Harvard-Westlake when he was just 18 years old.

Huybrechts and President of Harvard-Westlake Thomas C. Hudnut chose Gerson for the award this summer after considering all faculty and staff.

“For almost 40 years, he has given loyal and dedicated service to our school,” She said. “He seems always to be on campus. I’ve seen him at 6 o’clock in the morning and late at night, always upbeat, and always willing to do whatever is asked of him.”

Huybrechts made special reference to Roche’s good spirits and character.

“His very special gift to our school…is his big heart,” she said. “He models for our students what it means to be a good person, when, every December, he initiates the school toy drive, sets up the little holiday house, encourages students to donate toys, then transports the donated gifts to his church to give to children who might not otherwise receive toys for Christmas,” Huybrechts said.

“I feel really grateful because the school means a lot to me and for 40 years, I have been able to put food on the table in my house because of the school, so me and my family are really grateful,” Roche said. “The most important thing is that they treat me well and they love me and of course, I love them.”

“The description of the award fits him to a tee,” Huybrechts said. “He’s been at the school for almost 40 years. He’s given so much to the school. He’s very kind hearted and he works very hard. He epitomizes, for us, ‘the good man’ and he is a wonderful role model for both adults and students on campus.”