FORT LORAMIE — Julie Moeller, of Fort Loramie, went through the doors of Fort Loramie School for the first time in the fall of 1963.
That’s when she started first grade. She has returned every school day — and many summer days — since and will walk out for the last time, today, almost 55 years later.
Moeller has retired as the elementary school secretary. It’s a job she got right after she graduated from Fort Loramie High School in 1975.
“All I’ve ever done is go to school,” she laughed, Tuesday, June 12. She was originally hired on a CETA contract. The Comprehensive Employment and Training Act provided federal funds to government and nonprofit agencies to hire and train workers.
“I was 18. I didn’t have a car yet, so I could walk to work, and it was fun. I knew everybody,” she said. “It’s still fun.”
Moeller was hired as a permanent employee when an opening occurred after she had been working on a CETA contract for four years. At the time, there were four secretaries in the office. Now she is the only one.
There have been a lot of other changes through the years, as well.
“I started with a manual typewriter. We had mimeograph machines. We didn’t have air conditioning,” Moeller remembered. “Now there are Alice (active shooter response) drills. In the old school, because we didn’t have air conditioning, it was hot. Windows were open; doors were open for ventilation. Now every door has to be locked at all times, and that makes me sad.”
In addition to office work, the secretary has been responsible for collecting lunch money from students and keeping attendance records. She maintained office equipment, processed requisitions and ordered supplies. And, for the most part, she’s been stocking the same supplies for four decades.
“We did eliminate chalk. A chalkboard is a thing of the past,” she said.
The students have changed, too.
“I don’t think we have as many (kindergarten) students who are fearful of coming to school, because we have so much daycare. But kids are still shy. Some are noisy. That hasn’t changed. You used to have more kids that were really scared and cried,” Moeller noted.
And yet, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
“Kids are still kids. They worry about a test. They’re upset when they forget their band instrument,” she said.
In the 1980s, a principal started the practice of giving a colorful pencil to each child who had a birthday during the school year. Moeller kept the pencil gifts going. She also continued an annual school drive in support of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
And she watched lots of children grow up.
“You gave them a pencil and all of a sudden, they’re fixng your car or selling you insurance,” she said. “One kid was just an average kid, somebody who didn’t want to come to school. Twelve years later, I’m watching him pitch in a state game. A kid who didn’t have confidence is playing in front of thousands of people. I’m just so proud of them. You feel like you know them more than you know them. They feel like ‘my’ kids.” she said.
Moeller and her husband, Larry, have four children of their own and five grandchildren. She said the time is right for retirement.
“It’s time to do something besides go to school,” she laughed. Larry plans to retire in the fall. They look forward to not having a schedule.
“I’m hoping to acquire a hobby. Maybe I’ll find something I like,” she added. “I’m going to miss the school more than the school misses me.”
Principal Scott Rodeheffer might disagree.
“Her willingness to help the staff is going to be missed. And stability: she knew the office. She would take care of ‘it’ before ‘it’ started,” he said. “There’s going to be a big hole to fill.”
He’s also going to miss her “sports stories.”
“She loves her Redskins and supporting them. Whenever we had a game, the next day, win or lose, she’d be talking about the game,” he said.
For her part, Moeller is grateful that she’s been permitted to be a Redskin for 55 years.
“I really do feel blessed that I had this job. I’ve worked with a lot of great people,” she said. “It’ll be hard to walk out on the last day.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.