Employee of the Year
They say that a School Secretary runs the school. We are blessed to have the best one ever, Mary Grace. So great in fact, that every few years she gets elected Classified Employee of the Year by her peers. She has even been chosen Classified Employee of the District. When I congratulated her for her high achievement, she scoffed, “Phrffb,” in her typically modest way.
Mary Grace has a plaque hanging behind her desk that says: “Let me drop everything and work on your problem.” (See picture insert.) To some it might sound like humorous sarcasm, but if you know Mary, you know that she will pause what she is doing and help you.
From the moment Mary hits the office, her day is filled with a mind-bending overabundance of duties and responsibilities. Somehow, she manages to fulfill these and at the same time take care of all the other unscheduled troubleshooting that comes up every minute of the day. Somehow, everybody’s problem seems more urgent than the one before it! Yet Mary continues to keep the ship running on course and smoothly for our almost 1200 students, and all the support personnel. She knows everybody’s schedule and makes sure that all roles are adequately covered, even when too many teachers are out and there aren’t enough subs, a common occurence. Throughout it all, Mary never flinches or complains. Her go-to coping mechanism under pressure is her sense of humor.
Moreover, she has time to ask and show concern for staff members about their personal problems, (since she knows why they were absent), and to show empathy or attempt to help them find a solution or cure. Mary doesn’t only minister to staff members, she also finds time to form relationships with the students who frequent the office by treating them respectfully and sometimes offers them positive behavior incentives, like buying them lunch.
Mary started working in the district as a parent volunteer. “I started working for the school district because I could have time off with my kids. I got hired as a classroom aide, but I wanted to work in the office. I got hired at Lampton then moved over to Los Alisos in 2000.” This year she is celebrating her 30th year in the district. “I like working with people. I like kids and I love all the holidays.”
I know that Mary is looking forward to retirement in the next few years. I just hope the District is prepared to replace her with a whole team of secretaries and that they come with her amazing attitude. Meanwhile, I know we will continue to appreciate her while we still have her. The best School Secretary in the District, Mary Grace!
A clean middle school campus doesn’t just happen, especially one with a huge population such as Los Alisos. Our campus is impeccably clean because our outstanding custodial staff and its Head Custodian, Mark Jackson.
It was difficult to write an article about Mark. It isn’t hard to find great things to say about him, but it’s just about impossible to interview him because he is literally never still! Most of the time he is zigzagging across our campus propelling power equipment, either blowing away or sucking up trash, leaves, food, and other debris, at hyper speed. I was trying to be polite and patient, and wait until he had some down time, but after several weeks I realized down-time is not a concept Mark is familiar with. I finally flagged him down and screamed at him to pause, over the noise of the leaf blower and through his ear protectors. He told me I had to wait until he later because he had to finish before the teachers got there. I finally caught up with him later in the day and he gave me 30 seconds.
Mark doesn’t need a to-do list, like most of us. If you ask him for a favor, like replacing a chair or getting you a roll of paper towels, he usually has it done for you within a few minutes.
Mark is married and has two children, one 18 years old and one is 30. I found out that Mark has worked for the district for about 14 years, all here at Los Alisos. He was promoted to Head Custodian last year, when our previous one retired. He has done an admirable job of filling his shoes. We thank Mr. Mark Jackson and his entire custodial staff for their hard work and positive attitude. They are an example for the rest of us to follow.