They are the gatekeepers to the highest offices in the Columbia County school system, and Superintendent Tommy Price and his successor say their office couldn't function without them.
Administrative assistant to the superintendent Pam Zgutowicz - often referred to as Pam Z - school board administrative assistant Tina Dross and Emily Truan , associate superintendent Charles Nagle's assistant, might not be household names. But the three women, with more than 50 years of central office experience among them, are typically the ones parents and system employees come to first when they need help.
"They are absolutely one of my office's greatest assets," Price said. "They are very competent, very professional and we couldn't operate this office without them, bottom line."
Such workers are being honored today as part of Administrative Professionals Day.
Zgutowicz, who is retiring July 1 along with Price, has worked with him since Price was an associate superintendent. She works daily with student enrollment projections, which influence budget forecasts a year in advance.
She also handles teacher allotments and has helped designate school zones and bus routes in years past. She has worked for the system for almost 24 years, and like Price, will return next school year as a part-time employee of the school system.
Zgutowicz said that through the years she has come in tune with Price's thinking.
"When you work with someone 23 years, you can guess what their questions are going be without being told," Zgutowicz said.
Price said Zgutowicz and her depth of knowledge will be "sorely missed" upon her retirement.
Dross began working with the system in 1984 and moved into administrative assistant work two years later. Her current role is to assist both Price and the school board.
"I get to meet a lot of people and help a lot of people." Dross said. "I love to help people and fix things and try to make things right."
Truan has been Nagle's assistant for six years. As the assistant to the current head of student support, Truan is intimately involved with issues ranging from transportation and nutrition to construction and maintenance.
"One of the nice things about working with the schools is it's not a cookie-cutter job," she said. "I talk to different people every day and I enjoy that."
Truan will go with Nagle when he takes over for Price in July. He said the central office and schools depend heavily on their administrative assistants.
"When I'm not here I think the office runs smoothly, but when they're not here, it's like the cook has left the kitchen," Nagle said.
Truan and Dross said bonds have formed between the women working closely together through the years. It is especially true of Zgutowicz.
"She's family," Dross said. "We literally are family. We've gone through raising kids and raising grandkids together."
Zgutowicz said she will miss her colleagues but looks forward to retirement.
"I might not necessarily miss the work, but I sure will miss all the people," she said.
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