Some people say that you’ll never get anywhere by dwelling on the past; always look to the future. I agree but there’s a difference between dwelling and reflecting. Dwelling on the past holds you there, unable to move forward. Reflecting moves you forward. Knowing from where you came helps you to know WHO you are, WHERE you are going, and HOW you’ll get there.
This year, we are going to take a look at our EOPO “genealogy” as we learn more about those people who had a vision of starting this organization and all of those who have kept it moving forward. It is my hope that through this reflection, we will be able to advance forward with a stronger organization to better serve the office professionals in our Ohio schools today and in the future.
Most of you know my story with EOPO – in 1989 or 1990 I attended a conference in Lima, Ohio with Betty Gillespie, a co-worker at the time and we both were so impressed with what we saw that we wanted to be a part of the organization. Within a year we were on committees, then chairing committees, and eventually we each became president! What a ride!
Because I became a member early enough, I’ve been privileged to know every past president except one. I don’t think I ever met Rosemary Wallace but maybe one day when I’m in the Cleveland area, I’ll get to meet her.
EOPO’s founder Martha Leach was a very professional and proper lady. She took her secretarial position to heart and was quite accomplished with all kinds of letters after her name. She was quiet, but one of those STRONG ladies and a mighty leader. It’s not hard for me to think of her attending a National conference in Cincinnati in the late 1970s and getting excited about starting a similar group in Ohio. Anyone who has attended a National conference will tell you that once you go, you want to go every year! But thinking about non-assuming, soft-spoken Martha gathering women from around Ohio to instill interest in a state organization for school secretaries – that’s hard for me to picture. So she MUST have been excited! She went on to become the President of the national organization – National Association of School Secretaries (now NAEOP).
I would guess that she got her superintendent onboard and then with both of them making contacts through BASA and the Kettering-Dayton area schools, they got the word out. Up in NE Ohio was Lila Van Sweringen who jumped onboard immediately, so word had to be travelling around the state about getting this group up and running.
Within a year they had almost every quadrant of the state covered – Martha in Dayton and Judi Ross in Cincinnati, Lila in Cuyahoga Falls, Alice Lahman in Wood County in NW Ohio, Rosemary Wallace and Ruth Regula in Cleveland, and Shirley Keske in Columbus. It took a while for word to get to SE Ohio – things move a little slower down our way, but word eventually got there about EOPO and Esther Nesselroad became an adamant supporter by making certain the superintendents in her area knew about the group and were promoting it to their office personnel.
If you look through the themes of the Past Presidents you can see some trends that tell us what was happening with EOPO through the years. You’ll notice the early years were more about growth – both the organization’s and the individual’s professional growth. Let’s face it a secretary was a secretary no matter where you went. But that early group of past presidents began telling educational office personnel that they were PROFESSIONALS, not just a secretary! They stressed professionalism with Ruth Regula saying that EOPO is “Professionals in Action.” Shirley and Rachel followed with their formulas for professionalism. EOPO was growing! Stay tuned for more!
Cathy Kerns, CEOE
Educational Office Professionals of Ohio
c/o Logan-Hocking Local School District
2019 E. Front St.
Logan, OH 43138
Phone: (740) 385-8510 ext. 2724 Fax: (740) 385-3683
The Educational Office Professionals of Ohio is dedicated to promoting professionalism through developing skills, enhancing knowledge, and encouraging growth.