Bakker to Retire in June
Eleanor Yarkin, Reporter
Susan Bakker, the high school office manager for over a decade and a key member of the staff, has announced that she will retire at the end of this school year.
Bakker’s position entails a wide variety of responsibilities, but handling the school’s finances is a central part of her job.
“I’m in an unusual position as office manager,” Bakker said. “Sometimes I have to tell students, staff, and even Mr. Rock, ‘No, we can’t do that,’ or ‘We don’t have the money.’”
Bakker also organizes substitutes, office assistants, supply inventory, volunteers, school security, and the details of graduation. Additionally, she ensures that teachers and students have the materials they need to be as successful as possible.
“[Bakker] is always willing to do whatever needs to be done and get it done correctly,” athletic secretary Char Phillips said. “She’s got a great sense of humor and she is always upbeat and ready to make changes.”
Bakker’s position requires flexibility and she is always ready to take on any task that comes her way.
“She is Danny Rock’s second-in-command, so if he needs something done, it goes to her,” Phillips said.
In her time at the high school, Bakker has worked hard to make sure that the high school functions as smoothly as possible.
“She got the job done, didn’t complain, and sought to be of service to those around her,” principal Danny Rock said. “Her dedication to Vashon schools and VHS in particular will not soon be forgotten.”
In addition to working together in the office, Phillips has also worked with Bakker and her daughter, who graduated in 2009, in the Guide Dog Program.
Bakker’s absence will change the structure of the office, as a new manager will need to be trained for the job. This is something that Phillips has become familiar with over her many years of working at the high school.
“I have been through three or four office managers while I have been here,” Phillips said. “It changes the pool of the office in that now we have to teach the new person how to do things until they get the grasp of [the job.]”
Applicants for office manager have been interviewed and Vashon High School alumni Jackie Merrill was selected. With help from Bakker, Merrill will be trained in the spring to ensure a smooth transition.
“Bakker took on more and more as she grew into the role, and it will be very difficult to have someone else step into all her various responsibilities,” said Rock.
During the application process, Rock looked for candidates that would serve the school in all areas required by the job. Merrill has had experience working with finances at Bank of America, Island Lumber, and formerly served as the high school softball coach.
“[I looked for] a reliable and conservative manager of school budgets, and someone I can trust, laugh with, and grow with across our strengths and growth areas,” Rock said.
After her retirement, Bakker plans to travel with her husband and spend more time with her family.
“I’m turning 65 this year and want to travel and enjoy my granddaughter while I can,” Bakker said.
This March, Bakker and her husband are planning to take a cruise through the Mediterranean for nearly a month.
“After that, we will head out in our fifth wheel [trailer] to parts of the United States that we have always wanted to see,” Bakker said.
As her time at the high school comes to an end, Bakker reflects on her years working in the office.
“We have amazing students,” Bakker said. “When they avail… the opportunities at VHS, I know they can succeed at whatever they set their minds to.”