Farewell and congratulations ‘Miss Laurie’


 Laurie Pankratz  Laurie Pankratz, ‘Miss Laurie’, to the children and staff at Lincoln Elementary in Baker retired after serving the Baker School District for 29 years.

By Sherry Vogel

   Always cheerful and always prompt, courteous and considerate, this organized multi-tasker has helped “hold down the fort” at Lincoln School as secretary for the last nine years. Pankratz isn’t retiring from work entirely, but is instead switching career paths. She and her family are in the process of purchasing Fallon County Abstract. She began working there the day after she closed her office door at the school.

   Meeting with Pankratz in her new office, I was impressed by the professional upscale office environment. She is enjoying her new job, but admitted she misses the interaction of parents, students and employees at the school. She added, “It is a lot quieter here.”

    “Quieter” is an understatement. I let my mind venture back to a day I witnessed ‘Miss Laurie’ in action as the school secretary. I vividly recall entering the front door of Lincoln Elementary. I found myself in a small foyer with two young boys who were seated on tiny chairs on either side of her office door. Immediately I realized they were in ‘a time out’ and “partners in discipline’. One boy had that deer in headlight look. His eyes darted back and forth every time the front door opened or closed. He was either anxiously awaiting his mother’s rescue or dreading it. When the other young fellow caught my eye, he crossed his arms and stuck his tongue out while loudly banging the heel of his boot on the chair leg. Cautiously making my way across the office threshold, I was met by ‘Miss Laurie’s’ big smile and raised eyebrows which acknowledged my entrance. She had one hand on a jammed up copy machine while a short series of high-pitched tones, followed by screeching static signaled an incoming fax. Her head was crooked to one side as she held a telephone on her shoulder while reaching for a tablet to take the message, “Susie So and So was to get on the northbound bus instead of her usual routine to grandma’s house”, and “oh, don’t let her forget her homework”.

   Teetering on the corner of the office desk was a cake pan with the small crumbled remains of some proud birthday boy or girl’s shared classroom treat. Diminished to a small pile of crumbs and a dried strip of decorative frosting, it appeared that it was left there to be generously shared with ‘Miss Laurie’. Actually, before I could ask … a loud commotion was moving up the hall. A small girl was the source of a high pitched, shrill screech. Her vocal chords could rival the finest state of the art ambulance siren. Between shrieks, she let everyone within earshot know that she had been “bit by a bee” and that “his tooth was still in her finger”. ‘Miss Laurie’ calmly went into action, with the swipe of a sterlized plastic card she skillfully removed the “tooth”, cleansed the affected area, and the child was sent happily upon her way.

   I left that day with great admiration for ‘Miss Laurie’. Now I marvel at how she performed as school secretary day in and day out with such excellence.

   Farewell ‘Miss Laurie’ and best of luck in your new adventure, but between you and me … your new job will be a piece of cake!