Spotlight – Q & A
Where were you born? I was born in Rainier, Oregon.
Do you have siblings? I am the oldest of six kids – four boys and two girls.
What is it like being the oldest child? It works for me; I like being in charge and taking care of things!
Which schools did you attend? Mint Valley Elementary, Olympic, Beacon Hill, Monticello Middle School and RA Long High School – class of 1994.
Who was the principal when you attended RA Long? Rally Johnson.
Is anyone else in your family an RA Long graduate? Yes, it started with my great aunt Dorothy Fulbright; she was RA Long class of ’53. My mom graduated from RA Long in ’73 and my brother Shane Keith graduated in ’96. I have several cousins who are RAL graduates and my brother, Mr. Reid, is currently an RAL teacher.
What are some of your memories from high school? I loved being a Lumberjill. It is interesting going back to school and seeing education from an adult perspective. As a student, I had no idea all the stuff was going on behind the scenes.
Did you participate in high school activities? I was active in different groups like Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), French Club and Leadership. I really enjoyed high school. I was on drill team all four years and played basketball my freshmen year.
What sort of things did you do in FBLA? We competed in different business areas and computer competitions and I actually took fifth in state in a job interviewing competition. The experience interviewing through FBLA helped me get the job at Robert Gray.
At the state FBLA conference, were students dressed up for the interviewing competition? Yes, I had on my stylish 1994 business skirt and blazer.
What do you remember about the interview? I remember it was in front of a panel of about 12 people who asked impromptu questions about why you wanted the job.
Were you nervous? Oh, yes. People say I do well talking in front of groups, but I always feel nervous inside. You have to hold in the nervous energy and make it work for you.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Either a travel agent or a flight attendant.
What did you do after high school? I attended LCC for a year or so then moved out of town. You do not realize during high school everything you do leads down a path. You think you have a plan and you expect things to work out a certain way but the surprises and challenges bring you so much joy in the end. I am a firm believer that there is plan for all of us and sometimes it reveals itself when we least expect it!
Where did you move? I moved to Ellensburg for a few years. I worked at the Kittitas County Title office as an escrow closing assistant.
What did you do after Ellensburg? After about 2 years in Ellensburg, I came home to Longview and worked in the business office for Longview Fibre.
What year were you hired at Robert Gray? August 2005, this is my fourteenth school year. We count everything in school years; calendar years really do not matter when you work in a school building.
Why did you want to become a school secretary? I like to organize, to help others and be responsible for helping others do well. I do not want to be the boss necessarily, but do want to help coordinate things for the boss to be more effective.
Being a head secretary is a big job, right? Yes it is! Secretaries are in charge of important things whether it be in elementary, middle or high school. At the elementary level, there is only one secretary and a 4-hour secretarial assistant that is different from middle or high school. We do a variety of tasks and act as office manager and secretary to the entire building.
What makes for a good head secretary? I think it is critical for a head secretary to be organized, friendly, caring and love the job! I had good role models like Jennifer Robinson, who was a long-time head secretary at Columbia Heights.
What sort of training did you get? During the summer before school started, someone broke into Robert Gray and stole the computer where all the secretary’s data and information was stored. Jennifer Robinson invited me up to Columbia Heights and shared the various systems she used to organize her work. I also got 4 days with the secretary that was moving to Mt. Solo (Gayle Hanna) and received computer training for the student system, Skyward. Everything else is really on the job training; learn as you go, where you ask questions from your colleagues and create systems for yourself that meet the needs of your building and the district requirements.
Are you interrupted much during the day? Yes. The whole job revolves around getting work done with constant interruptions throughout the day to help our students, families, teachers and administrators do their job. They are the first priority.
Do secretaries do a lot of paperwork? Yes! There is so much paperwork that you must have systems and processes to get it all done. You cannot let the paperwork overwhelm you. It is a critical aspect of the “business” side of the job but students, families, staff needs always come first.
What is the best part of job? The people, kids and families we work with. Knowing they trust me and understand I am going to help solve whatever problems they have – it makes me feel good.
Can you tell us something you are proud of? Yes, in 2014 I was nominated for the Washington Classified Employee of the Year and was selected as our Regional Classified Employee of the Year. It was a great experience to go to Olympia and be part of the process. I am forever grateful to Bruce Holway for nominating me encouraging me to complete the process.
What do you do for fun outside of work? My personal life is if full of activities revolving around my family specifically my nephews and nieces. I currently have four nephews and three nieces – they are my highlight.
Do you have any hobbies? I like and have always been interested in photography. I took a photography class at RA Long back in high school and loved it. As digital photography took off, I got a nicer camera and started experimenting with family/child, travel, and wedding photos. I am not a professional by any means, but I’m always learning.
What do you like about photography? My favorite thing is capturing the facial expressions of people to remember a moment. In addition, I enjoy taking the “once a month picture” of my nieces and nephews.
What is the once a month picture? When babies are born, parents often will track the child’s growth by taking a picture once a month. I am always taking pictures of my family and have taken a photo every month of for at least two of my nephews and my youngest niece. We do this until they reach 1 year old, then we take a photo each year.
What is it like working in the school district? The school district is a world all its own. School districts have so many guidelines and rules. People from outside the district generally have no idea how many different things influence the choices we make.
What are the most common misconceptions about schools? The big things right now are technology and social media. Getting parents to understand privacy and what privacy means and how it affects students at the elementary level is so different from middle and high school issues.
Is Robert Gray different from other elementary schools? We are unique in that we are the only school in the county. We have a variety of differences because of this but the fun part is the unique show and tell items like goats, guinea pigs, turkey and grouse feathers – more rural stuff. Our student population decreases during hunting season.
Do you have a positive outlook for the future of the district? We are very fortunate. Our kids seem to be excited about school. You’ll always have kids who will struggle, but mostly the kid’s love coming to school. We have many resources now; I hope the kids who struggle find their joy somewhere as they progress through school.
Is school fun? We try to make school fun. We do things like spirit days and try to keep a positive vibe.
Are you going to watch the Super Bowl? Well, the Super Bowl often times fall on my birthday. So half the time I’m planning a birthday party along with a Super Bowl party. This year my brother Sam is getting married over Super Bowl weekend, so there is a lot going on.
What is your favorite food? Cheese.
What kind of cheese? It really doesn’t matter. Raw cheese, melted cheese. I fell in love with Sharp Cheese, specifically Vermont White Cheddar Cheese.
Do you like to travel? Yes, I love to travel.
What are some travel spots you like? I’ve done numerous road trips throughout the United States. The farthest I’ve gone is Nebraska. I recently took a road trip to Vancouver, BC, where I took a guided photo tour and it was amazing – I want to see more of Canada. I want to go to Australia and France too.
Do you like driving trips or flying trips? I am really up for any travel adventure!
What is your favorite color? Teal, like teal blue. My brother made me a custom “Washington is Home” sweatshirt in teal. Teal is a bright, fun color.