Inside ECS: Sharon Stout, Food Services

‘Expect nothing less than the best’ is the mantra of ECS’ Sharon Stout, the assistant to the director of food services for elementary schools. It’s with this mentality that Sharon ensures elementary lunches are the best they can be, but it’s also a guiding tenet with her own children when it comes to their academics.

“My husband and I have been truly blessed when it comes to our children. They know what needs to be done to be successful in school and they do it. To them, school is easy, but if they don’t do well, they know the extra stuff goes away.”

For her children, Shaniyah (a fifth grader at Mary Daly), Samiyah (a seventh grader at West Side), and Reniko (a freshman at Elkhart Memorial), the list of extras is long. Shaniyah and Samiyah are heavily involved in sports, including both at their schools as well as traveling teams, with sports like softball, basketball, and volleyball. Reniko’s focus is more on the academic side, though he does play football and enjoys gaming.

Originally a native of Mississippi, Sharon started with Elkhart Community Schools in 2010 as a food services cashier at Elkhart Central to align her work schedule with her kids’ school schedules. “I wanted to be sure I was available for my kids. I wanted to be off when they were off, to have as much time as possible with them. Now that they’re older, it’s easier for me to work more hours in my current position.” Her dedication to her children is clear in everything she does.

Sharon thinks back to a memory of when her children were young. “We were at the Tolson Center, and one little boy pointed to my husband and said to my daughter, ‘is that your dad?’ to which she said yes, and his reply was ‘it must be nice to know who your dad is.’ I see so many kids who don’t have parents involved in their lives. That hurts a child. My kids don’t know what it’s like to not have a parent. To me, my kids are the most important thing in my life.”

As Sharon thinks about the importance of family, she thinks about her own loving parents, who clearly instilled a strong sense of family and work ethic into her upbringing. “I lost my mom in 2013 to cancer and my dad in 2017 to cancer. When I lost them, my kids lost their grandparents. They would never get to experience the love that my parents gave to me. I don’t ever want them to not feel love.”

It’s with this love that she urges them to get involved as much as possible.

“If they want to do something, I want to give them every opportunity to do it. My husband and I try to give them the platform to succeed. If they fail, it’s okay. I just want them to try.”

For her daughters, this means an aggressive pursuit of a future athletic career at the University of Notre Dame. “They know they want to play sports when they get older. They have their eye on playing basketball for Notre Dame. It’s another incentive for them to keep their grades up, to help them get into Notre Dame and earn scholarships.”

As for her son, Sharon sees a future of being an entrepreneur and business owner. “All of my children are smart, but Reniko is so focused on academics and is so driven to succeed. He hasn’t figured out what business yet, but he is determined to become a business owner. I have no doubt that he will.”

It’s clear that Sharon tackles all things with a positivity and sense of hard work, with a strong love for her family.

“I just love my family to death. Love my kids. I would do anything for them. Everything I do is for them.”

Outside of work, Sharon loves going to the movies (especially Marvel movies on opening day!), traveling with her family, and staying with them in hotels so they can swim.