PORT CLINTON - Jeannette Crone came to Port Clinton High School for a job in 1975 and ended up with a career.
During the terms of six U.S. presidents, Mrs. Crone has been the secretary for the high school's athletic director and main office, greeting teachers, administrators, and generations of students with a smile. Last night, the school board accepted her request to retire July 29 and thanked her "for her many years of dedicated service."
In an interview yesterday at the school, Mrs. Crone, 62, said she had planned her stay in the district to be short after answering a radio ad for the position.
"I happened upon this job, and I thought it was just a job," she said. "My girls were teenagers and I thought, 'When they graduate, I'll go somewhere else and start a career.' Well, by the time they left, I realized this was a career. There's nothing more important than how we treat students."
Students and staff at the school are glad she stuck around. For many of them, Mrs. Crone is the person to go to with problems or questions about a multitude of school functions.
Want to buy tickets to a school play or football game? See Mrs. Crone. Need someone who can decipher handwritten abbreviations on a 25-year-old grade card? Mrs. Crone can.
"I'll ask her questions about everything," said Kathie Meek, the secretary to Principal Dale VanLerberghe. "And she knows the answers to everything. She's a fountain of information."
Robert Beck, who is in his eighth year as an assistant principal at the school, said Mrs. Crone is an active supporter of student activities. She has a lifetime achievement award from DECA, a national association for business students and teachers, and frequently attends drama performances and other school events, Mr. Beck said.
"She's found ways to be supportive of our kids that go way beyond sitting behind that desk," he said.
She's also known for her relentlessly sunny outlook.
"One of her strongest points is, whenever you're down a bit or have some adversity in your life, she's very good about dropping you a note or saying something to lift your spirits," Mr. Beck said.
Mrs. Crone said she's always considered greeting students and other visitors to the main office the most important part of her job. "Everybody who comes in gets a smile from me," she said. "I kind of consider myself a greeter. I've always been seated by the front desk."
The biggest changes at her desk over the past 30 years have been technological. The typewriter and mimeograph machine she used in the early years are long gone, replaced by computers and photocopiers.
Mrs. Crone said she decided to retire because she wants to spend time on other activities, including her plan to operate a quilting business from her home. But she plans to keep her ties with the district by working as a substitute secretary.
"This is a wonderful district, from the administration on down," she said. "These are my close friends here."
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