By LAURIE LECHLITNER
ROCHESTER — “I started out working in the school cafeteria,” stated Pat Lett, Rochester. “When I began my work as secretary, I had no previous experience or computer skills. I have come to the conclusion that skills can be learned. Those who want to succeed in the workplace need to have a good attitude and ready smile. We need to get along well with people.”
Lett is head secretary to school superintendent Jana Vance. She’s worked for the Rochester School Corporation for 28 years.
“I started working in the middle school cafeteria in 1994,” Lett explained. “My kids were in school, and it got me out of the house. It worked well for me. I did the cooking. That was the day when I cooked many things from scratch. Two of the students’ favorites were pizza and chicken and noodles with mashed potatoes.”
In 1999, Lett’s name came up at the administration building. “My cafeteria boss Debbie Byland has her office in the administration building. She mentioned me and they called me in for an interview.”
Lett began to work in two different areas in the office. “I worked part time as a secretary. I also worked downstairs in the technology department. Both positions added up to full-time employment.”
When she began her work on a computer as a secretary, she was a bit apprehensive. “The head secretary at that time was Joann Randall. She assured me that I couldn’t crash the computer or break it. When I was in trouble all I needed to do was go to control/delete.”
Working for the technology department sharpened Lett’s skills on learning the computer. “It was my job to set up the computer labs for the upcoming school year. I also helped wire the computers through the ceiling. My boss was tech director Tom Kelly. He gave me the instructions and I followed them.”
In 2016, Lett moved up to head secretary. This position not only entails managing the office, but also serving as the superintendent’s secretary. “Now there’s never a dull moment. I assist people from various departments: HR, the business manager, treasurer. I answer the phone and assist those who call with whatever their needs may be. I assist Mrs. Vance with whatever she needs on a particular day.”
Summer is the busiest time at the Rochester School administration building. “My first responsibility in the morning is to get the office up and running, turning on the machines, getting things ready for the staff. This time of year, I’m ordering supplies and materials for the teachers and students at the high school, middle school and both elementary schools. I also order general supplies for the administration building and maintenance department. Sometimes it gets chaotic in our office. But most of the time, things run smoothly and well.”
Her biggest challenge is dealing with the various problems people bring to her. “Some of those issues I’ve never dealt with. But we’re usually able to solve the dilemma together.”
She and her husband Mike were sweethearts while they were both students at Rochester High School. They’ve been married 43 years. They have two grown sons and 15 grandchildren. “I love spoiling the grandkids, because then I get to send them home,” she remarked with a chuckle.
“New skills can be learned,” Lett concluded. “Attitude is everything in the workplace.”