(Posted Aug. 19, 2022)
By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer
A half century is a long time to work in the same field, let alone the same place, but for Jane Breckenridge, 50 years with the Jefferson Local School District has been a labor of love.
The 1971 West Jefferson High School graduate did not stray far from her roots.
As the top business student in her class—typing 90 words per minute and taking shorthand at 120 words per minute—she landed a job in Columbus at Nationwide Insurance which she enjoyed, but she hated the long commute.
“After giving it six months, I decided to look elsewhere which led me to an ad for Jefferson Local Schools,” Breckenridge recalled.
“I’ve truly loved working at Jefferson Local from the first day,” she said.
She was hired in March 1972, although her assignment as secretary to the principal at the newly built Norwood Elementary was due to start in August. In the interim, she worked as a “Gal Friday” for the superintendent, building principals and treasurer’s office, where she hand-typed payroll checks for all employees.
“I immediately knew I had made the right choice,” continued Breckenridge. “It just fit. It has literally become like a second home to me.
“I have met many wonderful students and staff and have remained friends with quite a few even after they left the district.”
Including the superintendent who first hired her, Breckenridge has worked as a secretary for six superintendents—and happily reports a great rapport with all of them—two elementary principals, more than 35 school board members and hundreds of certified and classified staff.
Breckenridge’s son was able to attend classes in the school district due to her employment, which she said was a lifesaver when it came to daycare and keeping up with both his and her school activities. She also enjoyed their daily commute together.
“Of course, if there were any issues to be resolved, and thankfully very few, he knew I would be aware of it before he even stepped foot in the house,” said Breckenridge, “and I used that to my full advantage.”
During her years in the school district, she volunteered with levy campaigns, Adopt-a-Family programs and Ox Roast fundraisers and worked the concession stand at Friday night football games as an athletic booster volunteer.
In looking back over the years, the biggest change Breckenridge noted was the introduction of technology.
“When I began, there was one copy machine for the entire district, and it was housed in the superintendent’s office and was the size of a large freezer chest,” she said. “There were no computers and phones were not automated.
“Women all wore dresses and pantyhose, and there was no air conditioning. And although shorthand has become obsolete, it still comes in handy more often than you would think.”
Breckenridge said she is looking forward to retiring in the near future and moving closer to her three grandchildren who live in Westerville. She wants to spend more time attending their events, as well as travel and visit as many national parks as possible.