Kathi Jackson (left) retired at the end of the school year after 19 years with the district. Taking over that position is Breanna Davis. GINI DAVIS/THE CRESWELL CHRONICLE
As the school year closed, Creswell Middle School Secretary Kathi Jackson closed a chapter of her own, retiring after 19 years with the district and 11 years at CMS.
Closing that chapter is bittersweet, but Jackson’s excited about turning the next page.
”Change is difficult for me, even though it’s good and what I want. But there are seasons for everything,” Jackson said. ”I have eight precious grandbabies who are getting older, and I’m looking forward to being more available for them, my mom, my husband Steve – and just being a better me.”
Jackson’s departure has also been a big adjustment for CMS, where she handled, among other duties, bookkeeping, attendance, secretarial work and purchasing – a special point of pride for Jackson.
”I’m an extremely frugal person. I like nice things, but I like to find good deals, and I’ve done that for the school, too,” she said. ”It’s a game for me.”
Perhaps most importantly, the school has trusted Jackson to be a friendly, knowledgeable point of first contact: the person students and visitors first see or speak to when they call or walk in.
”For so many years, Kathi has been the welcoming face of Creswell Middle School,” said Principal Shirley Burrus. ”Students, parents and families associate her energy and positivity with the environment of the school.”
”I see this as really a public service position: to be helpful to people, direct them, solve issues,” Jackson said. ”There’s such a variety of things to do. No day looks the same. You never know what’s coming your way, so I just try to help anyone who walks through the door.”
Finding the best ”feet” to fill Jackson’s big shoes in the CMS office was no easy task. But Burrus and Jackson are both confident they’ve found the perfect ”fit” in Breanna Davis.
Davis, 29, has managed Emerald Fitness in Creswell and Cottage Grove for 3.5 years. Before that, she was administrative team lead at Professional Credit Services in Springfield. She is a 2007 Creswell graduate.
Davis is training this month and officially assumes her new position Aug. 6.
”My training time with her has been awesome,” Jackson said. ”She’s coming in with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. She’s going to bring so much to the table and fit right in – and I love that she’s invested in Creswell. When I took her on a school tour, some of the teachers were giving her hugs… It makes me feel like I can leave and they’re not going to miss a beat.”
Davis also feels positive about the transition.
”Everybody’s been very welcoming and helpful; the team vibe in the office is great,” she said. ”Kathi has taken me under her wing, and her belief in me and her supportiveness have been very helpful.”
Davis is experienced at working in busy, client-focused environments and being the initial point person, dealing with a variety of people and issues, and she’s excited to become that person for CMS and its students.
”I’ve always been the first person people interact with at a business, so I’m comfortable dealing with the public, and I look forward to continuing that work in a school – which is a completely new environment, with kids being your ‘clientele,’ basically,” Davis said. ”I love the feeling of contributing to kids, helping kids. It’s been fun watching the kids, seeing them come in and get help in the office, seeing how they interact with each other.”
Helping kids is integral to the CMS culture: ”I believe this group of people truly care about their students, and I can say that wholeheartedly, honestly,” Jackson said.
Davis also brings clerical experience – but equally important is her grasp of the job’s ”intangibles.”
”I’m flexible, and good at multitasking and organization,” Davis said. ”And I value growing up in the community and going to school here. I’ve loved getting to reconnect with teachers and even some parents that I knew in school.”
The enthusiasm is mutual.
”I am so excited to have Breanna on our team,” Burrus said. ”She comes to us with an excellent background of secretarial and financial skills. Her confidence and ability to multitask in a busy school is impressive. Her warm smile, kindness and genuine nature is perfect for the position and will make the transition smooth and enjoyable.”
As she transitions into retirement, Jackson plans to garden and play piano more. But she’s most excited about spending more time with family.
”I really like my husband; he’s very adventurous, and I look forward to what that’s going to bring,” Jackson said. ”Steve is flipping a couple of houses, and we enjoy working on houses together – we make a good team there. And we’ve talked for 30 years about driving across the nation, so I know we’ll do some of that.”
But at the heart of it all for Jackson, still and not surprisingly, are the kids: ”Honestly, my grandkids are the joy of my life,” she said. ”Some of them are playing sports now, so we’re starting to watch a lot of volleyball, basketball and baseball games, which we love.”
While eager to begin this new chapter with the people she loves most, Jackson has some sadness about leaving her CMS ”family.”
”I love the people here, I love the students,” Jackson said. ”I will really miss the friendships – some of my best friends are co-workers. And I will miss the kids; they’re special.”
But she departs for her next adventure confident the school, staff and students she loves are in good hands.
”I feel so good about passing the baton to Breanna,” she said, ”and I’m excited for the next season.”
”Kathi has been an unbelievable asset to me, my staff and the whole student body. She’s a unique and amazing individual who will leave a lasting impact on us all,” Burrus said. ”We are thrilled for her to enter the next phase of life and also extremely excited to welcome Breanna to the CMS family.”