When the time arrives for Molly Kirk to retire, she’ll both be missed and take part in the missing herself. “I’ll miss the company, my little office,” she says. “They’re my family.” Though excited about the possibility of retirement, she admits to skepticism about the whole thing. “I love coming to work,” Molly explains. “I always thought there’d be a point where I go, ‘Oh my gosh, I just can’t wait,’ but I’m not there yet.” The thought alone makes her teary, as if we needed any clearer indication that she’s fully devoted to this district’s students and faculty.
Molly has nearly 25 years of service with the district, primarily as office and support staff. Her duties cover a wide range of tasks, including secretarial work, attendance tabulation, and wrangling the paper trail behind the free and reduced lunch program. Not only that, but she’s also the district treasurer. She earned the tremendous responsibility over the fate of the district’s numbers when she started as a librarian at Jefferson Elementary in 1994. Though she didn’t know or have any expectations for a future in the district office then, organizing books according to the strict stipulations of the Dewey decimal classification was the beginning of a new career farther on the horizon. At the time, things were dicey. “I quit because my husband started a business and he needed help. Once things had calmed down, I was like, ‘I’m so mad at you for making me quit. You’re never going to make me quit again,’” she jokes. Now on the job hunt, she landed a part-time position at the unit office until an opening for the high school office popped up.
It’s easy for Molly to care about her job and the people involved because she’s a product of the same school she supports. “I loved going to high school here,” she says. “We actually lived somewhere else, but we decided we wanted to come to Vandalia because I loved it. I knew the people, the teachers, administrators, and I wanted my kids to have the advantage of coming to school here.” It was a perfect fit for Molly, she considered it an ideal fit for her kids, and now she has grandkids entering the district. “Smaller towns have more of a chance of having closeness,” she says when asked what makes Vandalia stand out as a community. “There’s a lot of closeness in the staff. I love working for Randy Protz and Greta Krueger. They’re awesome. We are a family. Here, you are a tight-knit family. I feel like it’s that way across the board.”
As for retirement, she may be skeptical about jumping right to it, but she has plans. Her first order of business will be to outfish her husband. “I told him I’m gonna be the one that catches all the fish,” she jokes. Retirement also means more time to spend with her daughter, daughter-in-law, and, of course, the grandkids. “I will be very happy to help with my grandkids. That’s the biggest part of my life,” Molly says. “Watching them grow up. Watching them play sports…I may work for my son and help with his business.” She briefly thinks over this response, then adds, “I have things in line. I’m happy about that because I’m not a sitter.” I don’t think anyone has the spine to call you a “sitter,” Molly. We certainly wouldn’t utter such a falsehood and expect our budget sheet to see the light of day again.