By Xiomara Levsen, The JOURNAL
If you?ve been to Washington Middle School, chances are you?ve seen secretary Cathy Kleese working in the office at her desk.
Kleese is the building secretary and everyone who works in that building will tell you she is the person in charge.
A couple of weeks ago, Kleese was at work asking everyone to go the gym for an assembly. What she didn?t know was this assembly was to honor her. Former staff member Sue Janecek, with input from current staff at the school, nominated Kleese for the ?A Plus for Education? award from a local television station.
?I am very honored and humbled by it,? Kleese said. ? I thought Curt (Mayer, principal) had lost his mind when he asked me to come stand in the middle of the gym floor.?
Kleese has worked in the school district for 32 years ? mostly at the middle school. She said she was taught by her parents to never expect to be rewarded for something you?re supposed to do, and is very humbled by the reconginiton she received.
?It?s my responsibility to take care of the kids, staff and parents,? Kleese said. ?It?s pretty overwhelming.?
Mayer has worked with Kleese since 1994 ? 23 1/2 years.
?She is the face of our building,? Mayer said. ?She is one of the first people to meet the kids in the morning and one of the last people to see the kids at night.?
Kleese has built relationships with students, parents, grandparents, teachers and administration in the district, he added.
?The kids come back and visit her all the time,? Mayer said. ?She certainly deserves this accolade.?
Washington middle school teacher Angie Shrader said there aren?t enough words to describe what Kleese does on a daily basis at the middle school.
?She?s not [just] a secretary,? Shrader said. ?She?s my Washington ?mom.? If I have something going on or if I?m sick she?s like, ?You need to go to the doctor. You need to do this.??
She?s the first person to reach out to the staff if there is a death in the family and asks if there is anything she can do additionally.
?It?s what she does,? Shrader said. ?She?s the caretaker of everybody. I don?t think people realize how much she takes care of us as a staff.?
If someone is late or gone from school that day, Kleese works on finding a substitute because she just wants to make sure everyone is taken care of, she added.
When the staff found out Kleese was going to receive the award, Shrader started contacted family members and asked Janecek to come to the school for the assembly. Unfortunately, weather issues caused the television station to reschedule, but the staff decided to continue with the school assembly.
?And most of it was because we couldn?t keep it a secret anymore,? Shrader said.
After the assembly was over, Janecek offered to stay and work for Kleese the rest of the day so she could be with her family.
?Of course Cathy stayed and worked, but I think she was rather overwhelmed and didn?t know what to do,? Shrader said.