Cochrane to retire after 25 years at North Woods PS
BY DENNY SCOTT
After 25 years, Jennifer Cochrane is retiring as the secretary of North Woods Elementary School near Ethel, previously Grey Central Public School.
Cochrane, who is 63 years old this year, started at Grey Central Public School in 1996 when Joan Bateman retired from the position. Bateman, Cochrane said, encouraged her to apply for the position even though, as a trained educational assistant, Cochrane had limited secretarial experience. Despite that, she got the job and she now thanks everyone who encouraged her and took a chance on her.
She said she quickly discovered that being a school secretary is more than the secretarial work, especially since, at the time she was hired, the school was making the switch to the Windows operating system.
“I was into computers back then, so while some people were struggling with the change from DOS to Windows, I was ready to go,” she said.
Since then, there’s been a steady stream of changes, she said, including changes in staffing which has offered Cochrane the chance to work with really great teachers and administration, she said, and connect with a lot of families and teachers who have become good friends.
Since she started, she said she has spent as much time working with students as she has with secretarial work, which may have something to do with her background as an educational assistant, and she has loved that opportunity and challenge.
She also said she’s adopted other responsibilities, like becoming a “first responder” with her first aid experience.
While she had planned for this to be her last year for some time, Cochrane said she was upset when she realized she may not get to say goodbye to the staff and students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“[If students don’t return to school] I’ll have no chance to say goodbye, which will be pretty scary,” she said. “It’s been great being at the school and this isn’t how I wanted to end it.”
As for what she plans to do with her retirement, she said she has eight grandchildren, two of whom she’s “claimed” as part of the family she wants to spend time with, including one born earlier this year she hasn’t had a chance to visit.
She will also tackle her hobbies, which include quilting and knitting and “whatever new experiences come along.”
In the short term, she is planning on travelling out west to visit two of her children and their families (they operate sawmills in Canada’s Prairies).
She said that, once she’s done in July, she will be driving, by car, out west, provided that’s allowed.
She also is looking forward to two of her children getting married this year, provided the services can go ahead.