Nancy Rae has been a staple fixture at Valley View Elementary School for nearly 34 years, greeting coworkers and students alike and putting a smile on their faces every morning.
Last week, the school board returned the favor, honoring the Pleasanton resident with the Classified Employee of the Year award for her several decades of service.
“Going out with this award is so amazing,” Rae said upon receiving her plaque during the evening presentation March 26.
Rae, who is retiring at the end of the school year, started her long career as an administrative secretary with the Pleasanton Unified School District in November 1985. She told the Weekly that she has always been drawn toward working in education, even if it was playing a supporting role outside of the classroom.
“I've always been interested in education,” Rae said. “And what better place to be than a place where I get to meet parents, kids and administrators as well, and the teachers.”
Working in a school environment and being a secretary has been fulfilling for Rae, as well as “the variety of work, the closeness to the staff, the teachers, administrators and the students ... just intermixing with them on a daily basis, it’s very rewarding.”
During her lengthy tenure, Rae was renowned for her “caring heart, attention to detail, as well as her commitment to supporting every student, staff or family member that walks through the Valley View Elementary front office,” PUSD officials said in a statement.
Rae went above and beyond her job description, including volunteering her time to chaperone a student so they could go on a field trip.
“I want everybody to have a fair chance,” she said. “And if a parent can’t make a field trip, I'm happy to come along, and they love it. I enjoy doing things for the children; that's what it’s all about.”
Faculty members who nominated Rae for the award left anonymous comments during the selection process, including one person who declared her “the beating heart of Valley View.”
One called her “the most reliable, responsible and resourceful person I have ever had the privilege to work with,” and another said that Rae has been “ a leader ... for us all.”
Retirement will “be hard to get used to because being a secretary is a very busy job,” but Rae said she should manage to easily fill her free time. “I’ll do some volunteer work and I’ll come back and visit, maybe a bit of travel and spend some time with my own grandkids,” she added.
Rae has been nominated for Classified Employee of the Year in the past, but she said the timing in winning this year now could not be better or more meaningful.
“The reward was truly an honor and I’m so appreciative,” she said. “After 33 years, I can’t think of a better way to leave the district than with this honor and I’ll treasure it forever.”