Popular middle school secretay retires after 28 years with SL schools
From answering phones to mending scraped knees, Mary Ravenscroft has been sitting in the front office at the Storm Lake Middle School since 1976. The well-liked secretary will retire this year after 28 years with the Storm Lake Community School District.
Her love of the job is what has kept her going strong for so many years.
"If you stay this long at a place, it means you like it," Ravenscroft said. "I love the kids and I love the people. I've had nice people to work with over the years. They're like my family."
In fact, some of the students she sees now are the children of former students from 20-some years ago.
It was one of her sons that actually got Ravenscroft to apply for a position with the schools.
Ravenscroft and her family moved to Storm Lake in 1971. However, there were no children her son's age living in their neighborhood at that time. To help him meet some friends, he was enrolled at The Gingerbread House.
Since her son would be gone for part of the day, this homemaker decided to apply for a part-time job at the high school media center. She started there in August of 1975.
That job quickly became full time, and the next school year Ravenscroft was transferred to the then-junior high located at South School.
When she was hired, her job description included answering phones, selling and punching lunch tickets and keeping attendance.
"Of course, there's much more to it than that," she said.
Being a school secretary means being a jack of all trades, from keeping student files and grade records to being a part-time nurse and general know it all. If a teacher has a question, typically the secretary can answer it.
"I help wherever it's needed," Ravenscroft said.
When people think of state and federal education mandates, such as No Child Left Behind, they often think of what that means in the classroom. But when state and federal hands get into education, it means a lot of record keeping.
Secretaries are often responsible for keeping track of student information at registration, while also maintaining academic records that are reported to the state education department.
"Teachers work hard with everything they do, and you do what you can for them," Ravenscroft said.
Ravenscroft feels it has been a good fit being a secretary at the middle school.
"My grandmother told me when I was in my early teens that if you enjoy and are kind to young ones and old ones, then you'll have a rewarding life," she said.
After 28 years in the school district, she understands what that means and how it has played into her longevity at the job.
"You get back what you put into it," she said.
While she has countless hours of stories and memories, Ravenscroft said every day has been a new day at the school. None disappointed.
"I don't think there's ever been a moment that I didn't want this job," she said.
Middle school students are at an awkward time in their lives, and it takes a lot of dedication from those who devote their lives to teaching them.
"Some of the kids are ornery, but they have hearts of gold," Ravenscroft said. "For anybody that can stick it out that long, you got to love it - otherwise you wouldn't work here."
Now that she is retiring, Ravenscroft hopes to relax and have more time to visit her children. Her oldest son Bob and his wife live in Ames with their two children, Emma and Paige; her daughter, Jane Davis, lives in Arizona with her husband Scott; and her youngest, Scott, lives with his wife Joey in Madison, Wisc.
Ravenscroft said she will miss her job, but she is glad to have been a part of thousands of students' lives.
"Our goal is to make kids' lives as good as they can be. We want to educate them and make them as best as they can be," she said.