Peabody school board clerk to end ‘rewarding’ 29-year run

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JANET HAMOUS
When Vickie Cook began her career with USD 398 in 1976, the kids wore miniskirts, bell-bottoms and tie-dyed shirts. Today, they’re wearing miniskirts, bell-bottoms and tie-dyed shirts again.

Sometimes Cook has to remind herself that 29 years have passed.

“If you enjoy what you are doing, the time even goes faster,” she said.

Retiring after almost three decades with the Peabody-Burns district, Cook has seen hundreds of students graduate, worked with six superintendents, and taken minutes at countless board meetings.

“It has all been rewarding,” she said.

Cook began her career with the district in 1976 when she was hired at the high school as a part time library and office aide.

“My son was just entering school, and I wanted to fill some of my time,” she said.

Three years later, she was hired as treasurer at the central office.

“Moving from the high school to the central office was a culture shock,” she said. “This office is so removed from the students. It took a while to get used to the quiet.”

In 1989, she became clerk of the board when she replaced the retiring Muriel Wolfersperger.

In her job as clerk, Cook has been responsible for the district payroll, accounting and budgeting, “numerous reports to the state” and taking minutes at school board meetings.

With experience, she learned how to take minutes objectively and concisely.

“It’s hard not to want to voice your opinions,” she said. “You have to set yourself aside. You are supposed to be recording board action.”

Although Cook may have missed a few special board meetings over the years, “I believe I only missed one regular meeting during that time,” she said.

The closing of the Burns elementary school was the most controversial and difficult time of her career as clerk.

“It was a dividing issue,” she said.

But most of her memories are good ones.

Cook said she was lucky to have had some excellent bosses during her tenure with the district.

“I had six and they have all been different, but I have been very fortunate to work with each one,” she said.

After she retires, Cook plans to keep busy attending grandsons’ sports activities. Her two grandsons, Brian and Jason Wingert, live in Peabody and attend junior high school.

She also has several projects to work on, and she is hoping to spend more time on the golf links.

“My mom still likes to play golf,” Cook said. Her parents, Naomi and Jewell Davis, live in Peabody too.

“I am looking into taking some art classes through Newton Recreation,” she said.

Aside from that, “I have no definite plans,” she said. “I enjoy being able to do what I want when I want to do it.”

Cook and her husband, Jay, will travel with friends on a nine-day Caribbean cruise in November.

“We are really looking forward to it,” she said.

Jay retired from the post office several years ago and now works as a custodian at the high school.

“He enjoys what he is doing,” Cook said, and he plans to continue working.

Cook’s last day is July 29, but she will be back on the job (temporarily) the following Monday to help take the school district budget to Topeka. After that, she’s retired. Officially.

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