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Draper Journal

Draper Elementary’s long-time ‘organized and efficient’ secretary retires

Jun 30, 2022 08:50PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

When the teachers walked out of Draper Elementary for the summer, so did Administrative Assistant Marian Broderick—only she left for good.

Broderick didn’t walk away alone. Principal Christine Waddell and Support Assistant Spring Park also are retiring; the three are taking a cumulative of 86 years of educational knowledge with them and leaving Support Assistant Deanna Brady to help break in the new front office staff.

“I keep thinking I would really kind of like to stay, but nobody wants a 66-year-old secretary at the school,” said Broderick, who has been full time for 26 of her 29 years at Draper Elementary. “It’s hard to wrap myself around this knowing I’ve gone to work for all these years and love my job, but all of a sudden, it’s not going to be mine anymore. I think come July when it’s time to go back, I am going to start to miss the school and all the people here. I love the teachers and it’s going to be really hard to leave them.”

That feeling may hit harder yet when school starts although the three retirees have plans to wave to the school on the first day as they head off to lunch together.

Broderick knows much of Draper Elementary’s history from heart.

She was at the school when it had open classrooms—“I don’t know why they ever thought that was a good idea;” and when they installed walls, they had to take down the school’s paintings and had a police escort to take the most valuable to the district office while they temporarily relocated to Union Middle. Skylights, secure entryway, and carpet upgrades have gone in since.

She was there when Draper was the only year-round elementary school and had 10 portables to fit 1,400 students.

“Draper was really starting to boom then. It’s when they started putting in neighborhoods of less than an acre property. People started coming when they could afford a house,” Broderick said, who lives in the Draper community on two acres with her husband, two horses and 14 chickens.

In 1994, she said, the school switched to traditional school year.

“Our numbers are around 700, but that’s still one of the highest (populated) schools,” Broderick said, adding that for a while Draper had the accelerated program and now, it hosts Chinese dual language immersion.

Her job also has changed from a period where she didn’t use a computer to using it to make payroll and bank statements entries.

“We’re always here to help the kids and patrons, answer phones, help teachers cut out things for bulletin boards, grade papers, organize things,” she said. “We cleaned out the ‘dungeon,’ as I call it, and found records from the 1940s (from the former Park School) with report cards, PTA minutes and all sorts of papers. It was fun going through those because there were people I knew from when I moved into Draper.”

Broderick, who is believed to be the second head secretary of Draper Elementary, followed Jean Smith in the position.

“I had brought my first kid here in first grade and dropped him off. I went home and told my husband that I will be the secretary of that school, you wait and see, but I didn’t expect it to happen how and when it did,” she said. “I started part-time and the secretary that was here before, she taught me a little about everything. Back then, schools did their own bank statements. We were a track school at the time, so when we’d have three more weeks of the school year after the other schools were out, the secretary always went on vacation. When she was in Idaho, she called me and said, ‘Marian, I’m never coming back.’ It was kind of a crappy day and right after she said that, there was this big thunderclap.”

Broderick told then Principal Ron Jarrett: “We had this big problem; we didn’t have a secretary to close the school. We had bills to pay; we had transportation costs and I didn’t know how to do them. We had to make sure all the kids got report cards and effectively schedule kids in classes. It was a nightmare because none of us knew anything. We did the best we can and then the principal asked me if I wanted the (full-time) job and here I am 26 years later.”

Even though she didn’t have knowledge of everything, she was prepared to step into the role.

“Back in high school, I took accounting, typing, shorthand—nobody even knows what that is, but I can still do it. I typed back on the old-fashioned typewriters with non-correction ribbon. I typed my teacher’s thesis for her, and I thought, ‘man, I’m going to be a secretary. I love this,’ said Broderick, who said her Viewmont High shorthand teacher was one who inspired her.

Those skills were still to be found years later as she was known at Draper Elementary for being organized and efficient with a no-nonsense approach to her work.

“I’m a type A personality. I can run four errands or go home and do a bid for my husband’s plumbing business in my half-an-hour lunch. My desk is always clean. I never have piles. I never put it off. I have always been really, really organized and you have to be, to be a secretary,” she said.

Her colleague, Park, who is retiring after 26 years, said Broderick often joked about her organizational abilities.

“Marian said you are good up front helping people; I’ll be in the back, taking care of business because she could run a great office and was always ahead of the game,” she said. “She said on her headstone it will say ‘she may not have had a lot of friends, but damn she was organized.’”

While teacher Madison Ellingson said the second part of the sentiment may be true, the first is not.

“She makes such an impact and not just for students who walk into our building, but also for the faculty and parents,” she said. “Marian is caring and looks for ways to help others. She is the most selfless person, and she wouldn’t say that, but she really is. Every moment, she’s like, ‘how can I help you, what can I do?’ When I have tests to correct, I take them down to her and she gets all giddy because she wants to score them for me. And she does that for everybody in the building. She loves doing projects the rest of us hate because she knows she’s helping us out. She thinks she’s just this grumpy lady that sits in the back desk, but that’s definitely not true.”

Ellingson, who was nominated along with Broderick for the National Life Group’s LifeChanger of the Year education award in 2018, said she knows Broderick is always available to help.

“Marian is the glue that holds Draper Elementary together. She’s pretty much amazing. If you need to know literally anything, you go to Marian. She knows it off the top of her head. She’s a plethora of knowledge and is just amazing at her job,” she said.

That experience comes from working under eight different principals in her career and thousands of students.

“Kids call me Marian, I’m not known as Mrs. Broderick. They come back and remember me. I’ll know them because they were my kids’ friends and now they’re bringing their kids to school here. It’s really fun to get to know them again. Many of them will say they remember coming to the office, and I’d give them candy,” she said, adding she still keeps a candy dish on her desk.

Waddell, who has worked with Broderick the past five years of her 32 years in education, said her administrative assistant is good with students.

“Sometimes kids will get sent down to work in the office for a little while,” Waddell said. “She seems to gravitate to those kids, and she’ll talk to them, help them with the school work they’re doing, and ask them about their life. She really forms a relationship with them; it’s those kids who have behavior problems, she knows how to bring them around.”

Waddell has been impressed by Broderick’s professionalism.

“Marian is the most efficient secretary anybody could ever have. I talk with other principals, and they tell me how their secretaries are swamped and how they can’t seem to get their work done. Marian is done with her work so fast that she’s constantly doing stuff for teachers like cutting out stuff or correcting papers because she hates to sit there and do nothing. She is a no-nonsense kind of person. She doesn’t complain. She just gets it done,” she said. “And she’s personable. She is willing to talk to anybody; if parents call and need something, she takes care of them.”

Broderick said it’s the job that has taught her that.

“I’m quite the introvert and I’ve had to really learn to put myself out there and to make people happy. I like doing everything in my power to make them feel comfortable and loved to help make this school a happy place. You have to really care, and I do really care about the kids and the faculty. I just love it here,” she said.

Ellingson said that’s apparent from Bunco nights she holds or planning and hosting staff and faculty gatherings.

“Marian is the mastermind behind our socials. She plans them, with support from others, and hosts them. She wants to go under the radar and do her thing and recognize others, but she really has a bigger impact than she knows,” Ellingson said.

Tamara Baker served as Draper principal for almost five years until January 2009.

“Marian is the best,” said Baker, who also is retiring after being in education nearly 30 years. “One of the things I love about Marian is that not only did she just do her job with stellar efficiency, because she was so good at it, she was always looking for other things to do for the staff.”

Baker recalled some teachers wanting to do hands-on learning with letter kits, but they knew the school didn’t have the money.

“They didn’t come to me, but they told Marian about it, and she came up with a solution of buying little cabinets at Home Depot that have one million little drawers and then buying lima beans and writing the letters on the lima beans to use as manipulatives. Marian told the teachers, ‘I can do that for you’ and for weeks, whenever she had a minute, she had all these lima beans on her desk and was using her Sharpie, writing letters on thousands of lima beans to save money. That was Marian. She’s like, ‘OK, I have three minutes and can get 50 more lima beans written on.’ I could have looked into a grant, but Marian jumped right in as she always did, to save the teachers time and she had thousands of lima beans written on in a matter of a week or two. She was just so incredibly fast and efficient by the time I caught on to what she was doing, she was about done,” she said.

During her administrative assistant’s summer break, Baker decided to have a little bit of fun.

“She likes her desk just so; it was always neat and orderly. One summer, I found a broken keyboard like hers, so I pried off the keys off and planted grass seed. Then, I found enough loose keys to write, ‘welcome back’ and put those on it. I trimmed the grass, put up a little lounge chair and substituted it for her keyboard. She came back from her break and looked at it and just started laughing. Then I hear, ‘Tamara, where’s my keyboard?’ You know, you don’t mess with Marian.”

Baker said that Marian was not only a “a brilliant person,” but also big-hearted.

“She quietly went about helping a child who needed something or if she sees a need in the community, she just fills it. There are many kids who would need something, and suddenly have it because she wanted to make sure they had what they needed, like any other student in the school,” she said. “She just has a huge heart and she never ever wanted recognition or anyone to know. She’s an incredible humble person, but she was generous and wanted to do it.”

Baker also recalled Broderick’s sense of humor.

“One year we had tons and tons of rain and it made for a retaining pond for the playground. Hundreds of Canadian geese liked it right there and made it their personal home. We went out there and I turned to Marian and said, ‘What are we going to do?’ And Marian is a great problem-solver. She just said, ‘I’ve got this’ and she just ran out in the middle and all these geese took off in flight. They’d come after all of us, but not Marian,” she said.

Broderick remembers other fun times, from when Steve Young give her a signed football when he came for an assembly to watching the 2015 lunar eclipse on the school roof with faculty.

While she has some things lined up for her retirement—traveling, going to the family cabin, quilting, writing her life history and maybe even becoming a mobile dog groomer—she’s a bit anxious.

“My biggest fear is that I’m going to sit on the couch in my PJs ‘til 11 (a.m.) and then shower, take a nap and watch some show,” Broderick said, realizing she won’t be helping faculty with their projects. “I will need something to do.”

This is the first of three profiles spotlighting long-time Canyons School District employees.