On Wednesday evening, I had the pleasure of attending a retirement dinner for an esteemed member of the NJSBA staff: Nancy Fletcher, my executive assistant.

Nancy joined the NJSBA staff on September 12, 1977, just months after graduating from high school. She served first as a word processing clerk who operated a “mag-card” machine. (Note to younger readers: In the days before desktop computers, offices were frequently equipped with these typewriter-type devices that stored a limited number of words on a magnetic card.) Nancy’s talent, skills and personality were soon recognized. In a relatively short time, she was encouraged to become the administrative secretary to the field services department, a position in which she excelled, and six years ago, she was appointed the executive administrative assistant.

These positions are highly visible to the membership and integral to the delivery of services. They require a high level of organization, intelligence…and poise.

It was wonderful to listen to the accolades from Nancy’s previous supervisors, including former Executive Director Marie Bilik and Sam Brown, retired field services director, as well as the praise of President John Bulina and Immediate Past President Ray Wiss. But it is the testimonials of her fellow staff members that best describe Nancy:

I always considered you a co-worker, mentor and especially a friend.

Thank you for all the support you have given me these past few months—your smile was what greeted me during my interview and I’ll always cherish that.

You helped make this Association the success it is today.

Words cannot describe the ways you contribute to our day—and the help you’ve given me.

So does this compliment from an educator who dealt with Nancy as she arranged for his visit to headquarters:

In my opinion, Nancy is an example of the Face of America at its very best. She is competent, kind, thoughtful and welcoming. She reflects the spirit of the quiet heroes who make things work efficiently and effectively across America.

In many ways, Nancy also reflects the entire NJSBA staff. During my years as a local school district superintendent, I always appreciated the services of the New Jersey School Boards Association. But it was not until I came on board as executive director that I realized our staff’s exceptional dedication and commitment.

These are people who understand the work of local school board members and their responsibility to our state’s nearly 1.4 million public school students. And every day, our staff translates that understanding into hard work and service to the membership. They get what you’re about!

Yes, when I joined the NJSBA family in 2012, I found that, as with any organization, there were areas where we could improve, but I was immediately struck with the staff’s commitment to service and the support of our members. Our employees are incredibly dedicated people.

Nancy’s service to NJSBA spanned almost 37 years. In the last 22 months, her assistance, support and guidance have been instrumental to my effectiveness and to the success of our organization.

Wishing happy retirement to a staff member who has been my right hand and my left hand is certainly bittersweet. But I am encouraged by the fact that Nancy exemplifies all of the positive qualities of our NJSBA staff. She has left an indelible mark upon all of us.

These are my Reflections. I look forward to hearing yours. Contact me at [email protected].