As custodian Vickie Miller sifts through her memories, one thing she was able to check off her bucket list was going on a cruise. Miller loves traveling and will hopefully be seeing more of the world as she says goodbye to FHC after twenty-three years.
“I would like to travel,” Miller said. “The one thing I’ve always wanted to do was take an Amtrak [train] across the country, so further down the road I’ll be able to do that.”
Although Miller does look forward to her open days ahead of her with her retirement and the time she will spend bonding with her great-grandson, she is going to miss her time working at FHC.
“[My retirement] is bittersweet,” Miller said. “I’m definitely going to miss the people I work with, all of the kids, coming to work, and the routine. I’m also happy I’ll be home—I’m going to be babysitting my great-grandson, who’s three, so that’ll be keeping me very busy.”
The bitter part of bittersweet includes her coworkers.
Working for one place for as long as Miller has means meeting a lot of people and forming relationships with them. Whether they have already left or she is just meeting them, Miller loves the connections she makes and is disappointed to be leaving them.
“[My coworkers and I] are all good friends,” Miller said, “and I’ll miss them a lot. So many people who have retired before I did, or who have other jobs, I still talk to them. It turns into one big family when you work with people every day. So that’s going to make me sad—not seeing them every day.”
Though he works the first shift and Miller works the second shift at FHC, head custodian Jeff Tolar is one of these “family members,” and he agrees that the family dynamic exists within their coworkers.
“Everyday with [Miller] is a treat,” Tolar said. “She’s not a coworker; she’s family, and everything she does is fun. She just likes to have a good time. [Because of this, it makes me] extremely sad [that she’s retiring]. She’s one of the greatest employees I’ve had the chance to work with. She’s going to be really missed.”
The bond among her coworkers is one Miller will miss, but not only will she miss them, but they will also miss her.
Adding on to the list of people missing her hard work and friendly persona are the students. Despite her working second shift where many students have already left, they still acknowledge and appreciate what she does for the school, and many of them have even been able to meet her.
“She has a lot of respect from the kids,” Tolar said. “She has gone above and beyond outside of her normal duties to help out with whatever activity, or event, or if a kid even needed something. She means a lot to this building.”
Principal Steve Passinault also sees the generous amount of care and work she puts into her job and the community and hopes others do as well.
“Because she’s such a friendly and hard-working person,” Passinault said, “I would say [Miller is] kind of an unsung hero if you will, or unsung worker in our building because not too many people know her just because she works second shift.”
Whether she spends the next chapter of her life traveling the world, writing stories, or hanging out with her family, Miller will be greatly missed from the school as a whole.
“I’m happy for her,” Passinault said, “because any time someone reaches retirement age or what’s best for them and their families, I’m always happy for those individuals but sad that they’re not going to be here anymore.”
This story was originally published on The Central Trend on May 17, 2021.