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Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

By Jesse Utz 

Other school workers touch lives too

Jess Shut Up


I spent the weekend with some of the most dedicated, passionate and hardworking school employees from around the state. I was at a conference for Washington Public School Employees, where during dinner they gave out awards. It was a very eye-opening moment for me.

There where great stories of how each winner had given up so much for a job they loved, and that got me thinking about the school employees who had touched me over the years. So I went back in the database of my mind, and a few names and faces popped up.

Dodie Boyd was the first. She had such an influence on my life and many other kids at Lake Roosevelt. She was directly involved with the Natural Helpers program, and when I was asked to be a part of it my junior year, well, it changed my life. She made me realize that “being myself” was OK and that everyone’s life was not perfect and we all need each other to get through things.

Jean Thorne, my bus driver from kindergarten to junior high, was a great lady. She truly cared for each student who climbed on her yellow bus. I remember once when some kids were picking on me, she made me stay on the bus and dropped me off right outside my home. She was a great lady.

Wayne Wilson, a janitor at LR when I went there, always had a smile and encouraging words for everyone. He also knew that supporting kids in all areas was important. I remember him being at just about every sporting event.

Lisa Carlson, who is still at LR, (so sorry for the loss of your dad), was instrumental in me taking school attendance seriously in high school. She challenged me one day and I only missed a few days of school after that.

Pat Collins, yes that Pat Collins, was a custodian in elementary school. He taught me that if you’re going to do something stupid, you must accept the consequences. I can’t talk about what I did yet; I have to wait until Pat retires. A deal we made. Stay tuned for that.

Darlene Bott was the school secretary in high school and at that time I thought she was the person who ran the school. She probably didn’t, but she seemed to be the person to come to when you needed something, and she always had an answer.

I am sure I forgot someone important, but the thing is that these school employees and current para-educators, bus drivers, custodians and office personnel have dedicated their lives to kids. They don’t get paid very much and they don’t get a lot of recognition. They deal with the same issues as teachers and administration do and are just as dedicated to your child. There are over 100 of them in our school district and some might say they are the backbone of it. Not just ours but all school districts. Names like Sheila Darnold, Helen Gilman, Steve Harrington, Julie Friedlander and Terry Owen come to mind, along with many others. Of course, my wife and I are both on that list, so I do have a special insight to this topic.

When we think of a school district we often think of the teachers, kids and administrators, but unfortunately we forget about the community members who are dedicating their lives to our schools, as well.

So thank you to all current and past public school employees. You make a difference every day in the life of a child. Oh, and the bad news. School is starting back up in just over a month. Enjoy what’s left of your time off.

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