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Familiar face retires from Jeannette School District

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Kristie Linden | Trib Total Media
Carol Patton is retiring this week from Jeannette School District after more than 38 years.

When Carol Patton was a little girl, she wanted to be a teacher. She didn’t end up pursuing that career but she did end up involved in education, spending more than 38 years in Jeannette School District.

Patton took accounting courses in her final year in high school and was recommended by her teacher for the position of assistant bookkeeper at the district.

“At that time, if that teacher recommended you — you got the job,” Patton said.

The first superintendent Patton worked with Lawrence DallaBetta and she was 17 when she took her first job in the district, which was in the former high school.

She moved on to become a secretarial helper, spending part of the time at the elementary school and part of the time at the middle school. Eventually she transitioned into the role of guidance secretary, where she spent about 15 years.

“It was a difficult transition to (leave that position) to go to the elementary school,” she said.

Leaving the guidance office meant leaving her longtime work partner, Maryann Fanelli, and taking a job that meant working mostly alone in her new office.

But, ultimately, her years as the elementary secretary have been her favorite years. She spent many years as the face students and visitors saw upon entering the building and she treasures those memories.

She worked with former elementary principal Geraldine McCartney, who Patton missed greatly when she left.

“She was a gem. I absolutely loved her. She treated me like a professional and I really appreciated that,” said Patton. “Then I got Dr. King and talk about being blessed. He was wonderful.”

Richard King was principal at McKee Elementary for many years and Patton said during those years, “I said I would have paid them to work there. There are so many wonderful perks to a job like that.

“He was everybody’s leader.”

Her favorite thing about the job was getting to work with the students.

“The interactions with the children are priceless. It’s so nice to be in a position to be a helper. I always enjoyed that, tying shoes, cleaning skinned knees in the olden days. They would have birthday parties and from time to time they would include me.”

She liked working with the parents, too, because she’s always lived in Jeannette and is a part of the community.

“In Jeannette, we have needy students and we have a lot of needy parents. You think what you do is just your job, but over time, you’ve helped a lot of people and they remember.”

For someone who wanted to be a teacher, spending so much time around teachers and educators has been wonderful for Patton.

“God helped me be in that atmosphere and I’ve gotten those benefits.”

Patton believes in counting her blessings and said that being around all of these different types of people throughout her career has been so positive.

Patton and her husband, Jon Patton, who works at Jeannette Specialty Glass have always lived in Jeannette.

She has one son, Stephen, and her parents are still in town, Jerry and Shirley Eakin. She has three sisters Kelly Herman of Jeannette, Suzanne DiDonato of Irwin and Shari Eakin of Maryland.

As for her retirement plans, Patton is looking forward to volunteering more time at her church, St. Michael’s off of Cedar Street in Greensburg.

She is a fairly recent Orthodox Christian convert and she is pretty active in her church, but there are things she hasn’t been able to do because the activities meet on weekdays.

“I always look at the bulletin and see things I can’t attend due to work,” said Patton. “I need to step up and learn how to do things so the traditions continue.”

She also intends to work with at-risk youth in her retirement.

Her last day was last Friday and as the days ticked away, Patton was full of mixed emotions, but ultimately, she knew it was the right time.

“It was my allotted time, there is a season for everything. I don’t want to over-stay my welcome.”

She’s been feeling a pull to something else for a while, but had been ignoring the urge.

“I would think ‘where’s God?’ and now when I look at what brought me here, He’s been working all along and I’m being guided, I just wasn’t paying attention.”

As the years have passed, Patton has realized she’s been saying goodbye to many peers and now it is time for them to say goodbye to her.

“This was like a calling for me and I’ve been blessed,” she said.

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at [email protected] or 724-838-5154.

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