MaryAnn has been an administrative assistant of the residential school program for 25 years at The School at Springbrook. Still, her office has acted as more than just an administrative space during her tenure. The “fish bowl,” as MaryAnn refers to her office because it has a windowed-180* view of the halls at the entryway to the school, has been a learning hub, a holiday haven, a sanctuary, a training ground, and more for staff but also for the students that MaryAnn encounters each and every day. MaryAnn cannot be missed within her fishbowl. Every student who attends The School at Springbrook makes their way through the doors to her office near the main entrance each day and leaves the same way. This is a point of joy for MaryAnn, who has a good-hearted story for almost every one of the students who have passed through the school doors throughout her career.
As an administrative assistant, MaryAnn has gone beyond her everyday work duties to work with many students and their teachers over the course of her career to challenge the kids and help develop their social skills and engagement with others. One student was inspired to meet a new goal: to greet MaryAnn each morning with a “hello.” They worked with their teacher to begin actively engaging with MaryAnn, who would say hello in the morning and good evening in the afternoon. Enticed by the reward of a Skittle, the student began to introduce themselves. Before the year ran out, the student would greet MaryAnn every day without the expectation of the Skittle. For MaryAnn, saying goodbye to some of these students at the end of their school years is the most difficult part of her job. Graduation may be bittersweet, but she gets great joy from planning graduation, from sizing and ordering caps and gowns to putting together gifts for the students upon graduation.
You may not catch it in her word choice or slight accent, but MaryAnn grew up, went to school, worked, and lived in downstate New York. Over the course of her early life, MaryAnn lived in the Bronx and later on Long Island, then went to school in Manhattan. However, during her tenure at Springbrook, MaryAnn has lived in the same home since first arriving upstate. After leaving the city lights behind her for the cool darkness of a wooded lot on an unmaintained road, MaryAnn dedicated herself to her work. This has included organizing graduation and decorating for every holiday on the world calendar.
MaryAnn has never missed a holiday at the school and decorates the bulletin boards outside of her office, the windows to her office, and the office interior. A few of the students’ favorite holiday decorations include scarecrows at Halloween, learning about the presidents of the United States on President’s Day, and the bright pastel décor of Easter. As one would expect, MaryAnn decorates her home (on a smaller scale) for the holidays, as she does throughout the school year. Ask MaryAnn what her favorite holiday is and she will tell you, “Hallowe’en.”
MaryAnn continues to push her retirement back and cannot imagine her day-to-day without having regular interactions with students in it. If MaryAnn ever does decide to retire, we hope that she makes the best of her time in the garden, supporting the growth of her plants. In the meantime, thank you, MaryAnn, for your 25 years of dedicated service and support of Springbrook and the students and staff at The School at Springbrook.