Elliott caps longtime AlWood career

Sherrie Taylor/GateHouse News Service
Barb Elliott, AlWood Unit Office secretary for 35 years, confers with Superintendent Shannon Bumann on one of her last days at work for the district.

A familiar face in the AlWood schools, specifically in the administrative office, is now absent after 35 years.

Barb Elliott worked for 14 superintendents, interim superintendents and principals during her career. Sept. 30 was her last day in the office.

She began by volunteering at school when her mother, Dorothy Larson Faur, worked for Supt. Elmer Fischer and she helped her out part-time.

“I was born and raised here, went to 12 years of school at AlWood, and took a few years off when my (two) kids were little. The school district has definitely been part of my life,” she explained.

Over the years there have been a lot of changes, especially involving the students and parents. There has been a lot of additional paperwork, mostly required by the state, with reporting, audits and the student information, Elliott said.

The school newsletter, sent to parents and others who requested a copy, started in the 1970s, Elliott said, and has gone from two to three pages to now eight to 10 pages.

“It’s a real task and I’m so glad Andrea (Bolduc) is taking over,” she said.

For the hundreds of copies that go out each month, students help assemble the newsletter for mailing, which has always been a big help, she noted.

It has been Elliott’s task to take care of all election information, get the petitions signed and see that all required paperwork is filed.

There was a time when a petition was challenged and there were court hearings, a situation she readily recalls.

“The technology changes have been difficult, but also a blessing. I learned on the job with staff help. I’ve had wonderful support,” she said.

The years have not been without some difficulties and trying times. There have been buildings demolished and new ones constructed, resulting in even more paperwork.

“I’ve watched them go up and come down,” she noted.

The sudden deaths of Principal Harold Sanders and board member Dale Walsten were difficult times for staff and the community, she noted.

“Superintendent Shannon Bumann has been wonderful to work for and bookkeeper Kim Goodrich (also in the unit office) has been great to work with” she said. “And I feel good about leaving the job to Andrea.”

Elliott’s husband, Galen “Bo,” retired about two years ago. The couple plans to do some traveling.

“My class reunion is in Arizona next March and we’re going to Branson sometime this fall. It will be good to be able to travel and do road trips. We’ll spend more time with our kids and grandkids, too,” she said.

Her daughter Kathy Anderson, son-in-law Tad and granddaughter Lea live in rural Altona. Son Kevin lives with is wife Kim and twins, Lilly and Caden, in Cary.

“It will be nice not to have any commitments, no worries, be able to keep up with family activities and do for my family,” Barb concluded.

The AlWood district sponsored a retirement party for Elliott earlier this month and presented her with an oak rocking chair.

Though officially retired, she has been spending a few hours a day in the office to help train her replacement.

On the last day of school last spring, the staff surprised her with a pizza party and gave her an original painting by local artist George Olson.