The 190 part-time and full-time employees of the Sibley East School District can all say that they know Gail Armstrong.
Armstrong, 60, is retiring the end of the month after 37 years of service to the Gaylord and Sibley East School Districts. Armstrong has most recently served as the payroll and human resources manager.
She recalled beginning her employment at the Gaylord School in 1973, replacing Vereen Wacker as a secretary. Armstrong was employed as a secretary for four years, and in 1977 she replaced Sharon Doering, who worked with payroll and finance.
When the Gaylord and Arlington-Green Isle School Districts consolidated in 1995-96, Armstrong took the payroll duties and Doris Meyer, who had been employed at Arlington-Green Isle, did school finance.
Through the years, Armstrong has witnessed many changes to the profession and also to the staff.
When Armstrong began, the payroll and finance was done manually, without computers. When computer programs evolved, she recalled using a data base, a framework program, and now to a program now called “Smart HR.” The present computer system is good, and she has appreciated support offered through the Region V Computer Service Cooperative in Mankato.
During her 37 years of employment, Armstrong worked with seven different superintendents. They included Dick Pattee, interim Dr. John Schoen, Dr. John Fredericksen, Nordy Nelson, Charles Rick, John Langenbrunner, and Stephen Jones. “My job needs to have decisions made,” Armstrong said. “All were very nice and all were concerned about the welfare of the students.”
A 1968 graduate of Good Thunder High School, Armstrong married and had children. She moved to Gaylord after marriage. Her former husband, Larry, worked for the state highway department. She had on-the-job training for her position. She had taken high school accounting and enjoyed it. She also enjoyed working with people at her father’s grocery store.
After retirement, Armstrong said she would like to enjoy coffee during the week on the deck of her home. She plans to spend more time with her mother in Mankato, her sons Rob of Eagle Lake and Troy of Belle Plaine, and granddaughters Bria – 15 and Anna – 12.
Although Armstrong is officially done June 30, she anticipates needing to come back for a short time in August to help with the school district audit. Although the region will train her replacement on the payroll portion of her job, she anticipates having to train her replacement on other duties.