Elwood retiring at end of year

After more than 20 years with the Stanton School District, Christi Elwood is calling it a career.  
Elwood, who currently serves as the high school secretary, announced her retirement in April. Elwood said she was born and raised in Clarinda and graduated from Clarinda High School..
“When we got married, we moved to Nebraska for a few years and decided when we were going to have kids that we wanted to raise them here, as my husband had grown up in Stanton. We moved back to Stanton in 1986, and I did home day care for 10 years before I came to the school.
Elwood started with Stanton in 1996. She said working with kids was what drew her into an education field.
“My first job as a teenager was babysitting, and when I did home daycare I had kids in the house from six in the morning until midnight due to different shifts. I love kids. In fact, I used to live on South Hill and at the time there were about 25 kids that lived on that hill. I babysat at least 10 of them. The kids became family. They became like brothers and sisters to my own kids,” commented Elwood.
When it came to choosing a district to work for, Elwood said she immediately knew Stanton was the one.
“My kids were going to school here. My oldest was in the fourth grade at the time, and I thought it was a good time to transition in. There was a job opening, and I took it. I started as a para, but back then they were called teacher’s aides. My first four years, I was one-on-one with two different students, and I worked half days. Then I moved up to full days,” explained Elwood.
It was around 2012, Elwood said, that she moved into the role of school secretary, first in the elementary after being asked by the district.
“I worked it for a year as they were letting the elementary secretary at the time work on the high school side. She said she’d try it for a year to see if she liked it, and said if she did not, she’d take her former job back in the elementary. She ended up not liking the job as well, so we flip flopped and I came down here. Initially, were two of us in the high school office. Tammy Boyer was board secretary and high school secretary. We did work for each other and soon split the duties. Now that she’s retired it’s been in my hands,” Elwood stated. “I enjoy this job, but I find it’s like any other position, the farther up the ladder you go, the farther away you get for what you came fore. I still get to work with kids, but it’s a different setting. The kids are sent here, they don’t come in to visit, but thanks to this job, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people, and a lot of parents. I’ve worked with four different principals and four different superintendents over the years. Things change here and there, but you adapt to it and move on.”
Elwood also said she enjoyed her time working with the district’s yearbook kids for eight years.
“I really enjoyed doing that, but I haven’t done it for a couple of years when I took over the front office, I did not feel that I could give it the time needed. Charm Carpenter is the yearbook advisor now, and she’ll ask questions once in awhile and I’ll help her out with that. I do still enjoy it.”
Elwood said there’s another aspect of the job, which is being the first face people see when they come into the building, and serves as a key safety component.
“We tell the kids to be gracious and help people but don’t answer the door. Even though you know someone, sometimes we may know things that you might not know that relates to issues with student, parent, or grandparent, ect. We can’t open the door to just anybody anymore. Plus there’s just the day to day stuff. Stephanie Burke once called me the “chaos coordinator,” I thought, that’s pretty much what it is a lot of days,” advised Elwood. “You have a few things that are routine, but outside of that, phone calls are not routine, kid’s issues are not routine, there’s a lot of variances in what happens throughout the day, which makes the day go faster. As secretary here, we also serve as the school nurse 4 days a week. This aspect will keep you busy with headaches, ice packs, band aides, bloody noses, injuries ... You never know what might come across your plate.”
The wake of school shootings that has taken place nationwide has unfortunately changed how she performs her role in the district.
“I would say that’s one of the saddest changes in my mind. You’ve got your kids here, and you’re a family here, and you have to protect them. Another thing that has changed is the consequences for students that cause issues. The consequences aren’t what they were when we were kids. When I started, there was a fear for the students if they caused an issue that their parents would find out. Society has changed, and in some cases, some kids don’t care that much anymore about what their parents will do. That’s disappointing to me because we want the students to get a good education and learn respect, given and taken both ways,” Elwood said.
While some things have changed for the worse, Elwood said there are also many things that have changed for the better, such as communication.
“The report cards are now emailed or online and parents can look at them at any time. Parents can also check their child’s attendance at any time, and parents can email teachers. It’s a lot quicker response now than it was having to send report cards out. Sometimes it took several days for parents to receive them, and then they have a question, and there’s been a lapse of a week or more before the question can be answered. It’s also helped with parent teacher conferences. Parents don’t have to wait for conferences to talk about an issue. They can get the information online and email the teacher and address it immediately, rather than having to wait for conference time,” Elwood stated.
Elwood said it was the Perry School shooting incident which started her towards a decision to retire.
“After Perry, I started a pros and cons list of staying or going. It just seemed that I had more reasons to go than to stay. My parents are elderly, and my last child is now married, we have six grandchildren and more to come. I’m wanting to enjoy more of life with all of them,” Elwood stated.
Another factor in her decision was her husband, who is an over-the-road truck driver owner/operator.
“We’ve had a truck for 40 years this June. When we first got married, I went with him, and our oldest son traveled with us for a while too. Now it’s come full circle. After I retire, I’m going to go on the road with him a bit and spend more time with him, and read books, see the grand kids, and enjoy life,” Elwood said.
Over her 28-year career with the Stanton District, Elwood said she’s most enjoyed the opportunity to work with the students and staff.
“It’s a family. You can have a kid come in very upset with you because they got sent to the office. The very next day, they come in all smiles and ask how I’m doing or wave goodbye at the end of the day. There are some kids that are frequent fliers in here, but we’re family. Jake Ashley, who works here at the school, was in my oldest son’s class. He was in the fourth grade when I started here, and now I’m working with his own kids. It just keeps evolving, and in a good way,” Elwood commented.
While there are things that she’s looking forward to once she retires at the end of the school year, there are many things she’ll miss.
“I’ll miss the daily routine and seeing everyone. When I go to events or even just out at the grocery store, some of the kids will stop me and be amazed that I shop at the grocery store, since they only have seen me at the school. Also, I had a former student call just the other day that graduated about nine years ago and asked for his transcripts. He remembered me and seemed surprised I was still here. I will definitely miss the kids the most. I’ll see them out and about but it won’t quite be the same.”
Elwood said her position has allowed her to be a sort of second mom for the kids, which one senior class honored her for.
“We expect you to bring your things to school, we expect that you go to class on time, we expect you to be here every day and follow the rules. If these things don’t happen, we gently remind them in our “motherly tones,” that you need to think about where you could make some changes to be prepared for the day. One year during a senior prank, a couple of boys left a note on our door, and it was to their “moms.” It was the neatest thing. I still have it at home, and it really touched my heart and made me chuckle. They were being very good. They understood the dynamic. We’re here for them when they’re not at home. If they need a pair of socks, we’ll get them socks, or a shirt, or a notebook, whatever they need.”
Elwood said she’ll be helping acquaint her replacement.
“I won’t be here through the entire month of June, but I’ll help them as much as I can. There are some things that are the same day to day, but starting the year is way different than ending the year. There are a lot of differences year to year. There are also awesome Youtube videos we have access to that can answer a lot of questions for her. I will be Forever Proud to be considered as a Stanton Viking/Viqueen! Go Purple!”

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