Secretary earns the Eddy
At the beginning of every summer, when Blue Earth Area students have started their highly-anticipated summer breaks, BEA teachers gather together to celebrate the achievements they’ve made throughout the school year.
Teachers are applauded for working at BEA?for five, 10, 15 years and beyond. The teachers that are prepared to retire are applauded and sincerely thanked for their jobs well-done. And, the coveted Eddy award is handed out to recognize a BEA-employee who has performed a leading role in educational support.
This year, the award went to Sarah Ferguson, BEA’s middle school secretary.
The nominations she received included comments such as, “She is a non-certified staff member who does an amazing job at keeping teachers lives easier,” and “she always has kind words to say,” “she has an infectious laugh,” she is “efficient, caring, and discrete.”
All of Ferguson’s characteristics mentioned by her peers are vital to her role as the middle school secretary she says.
“There are things that are a part of my day that are very routine, especially in the morning and at the end of the day, but everything in between is far from routine,” says Ferguson.
From taking attendance, helping nurse Ann Crofton with first aid and other duties while she’s away at the high school, to assisting with transportation, or assigning substitute teachers to classrooms, Ferguson does it all.
“It’s a juggling act for sure, but I really don’t know if I can go back to another job after this,” she says with a smile.
Ferguson started her job at Blue Earth Area Middle School in the fall of 2015, not very long ago, when she moved here from Ames, Iowa, with her two daughters, Calli, 12, and Madalyn, 10.
“I’m kind of from all over, but I was born and grew up in northeast Nebraska,” says Ferguson.
Before Calli and Madalyn were even around, their mother went to college in Des Moines, Iowa, for court reporting, which she found was not her fit.
“It’s an isolating job and was not right for my type of personality,” she says. “It was a lot of typing, naturally, and a lot of paperwork. Minimal people interaction, which I really enjoy.”
From there, the young Ferguson worked in Omaha, then married shortly after and moved to Reno, Nevada, where she continued her employment in the court reporting field.
Then, she was called to something that would better fit her personality. Sarah Ferguson went back to school for elementary education. After just one year, she switched schools to Duluth, Minnesota, and worked for an opthalmologist for six years. Afterwards, she and her husband moved back to the southwest to Prescott, Arizona.
Ferguson and her husband started their family but eventually realized they had different goals in mind. Ferguson brought her two little girls back to Iowa to be closer to her parents and her sister by 2011.
“That was my restarting chapter, and I am so thankful it happened, but it was a lot of work,” says Ferguson. “I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.”
From 2011 to 2015, Ferguson and her daughters stayed in Ames where she worked as a bookkeeper for a local bank, which still did not tickle Ferguson’s fancy.
Enter Blue Earth Area School District.
Ferguson applied for an open position and was hired. By fall of 2015, as mentioned, she began her new career and the girls began their first year at their new school.
“The atmosphere here is awesome,” says Ferguson. “And the girls enjoy it, too. They told me last year that at their previous school there were a lot of privileged students. Here at Blue Earth Area, they recognize there are some students that don’t have a lot, but are grateful for what they have.”
Ferguson is appreciative of the giving nature of the Blue Earth community and seems to return what she sees in the work that she does, going above and beyond what is needed to ensure everyone’s daily transition is as easy as possible.
She, of course, had some help with learning the ropes while she became acclimated to the area. She gives most of that credit to her office mate, Sharon Ristau.
“Sharon knows everyone and pretty much everything,” she laughs. “But she has such a calming presence about her. Her confidence is one of the things that draws me to her most.”
With a smile on her face, she is one of the first faces students and administration see in the morning, and from what the nominations say, that smile is infectious.
And that smile exists because of the people she sees everyday, according to Ferguson. Which also happens to be the exact reason why she enjoys her job the people.
“I have such an opportunity to build so many relationships here, as do my girls,” she says. “The size of this community is big enough for everyone to find their niche, but small enough to know everyone by first name basis. It is absolutely wonderful.”
And as for the honor of being the 2017 Eddy Award winner?
“I am very surprised, and very honored. There were so many wonderful nominees, absolutely amazing. I am so humbled and honored by this.”
The miniature golden statue stands erect on her desktop as Ferguson and her office mate finish up the end of the year tasks for the summer. Though the school year comes to a close, Ferguson’s journey at Blue Earth Area seems to only be beginning.