MONTPELIER — In recent years, after four decades of service, Linda Goodell has been dubbed “Queen of Main Street Middle School.”
It’s a fitting tribute to Goodell, who will retire after more than 40 years as the office secretary at Main Street Middle School at the end of the school year in June.
Goodell, began as the school secretary in 1979, a position only recently updated to “administrative assistant to the principal.” She spent a year and half as an instructional assistant at the school before her current job, and previously worked in the kitchen and as a school crossing guard. She also was a student at the school for three years.
Nor did Goodell go to college because she could not afford it, but she maintains she got all the instruction she needed for her current job at Montpelier High School.
“I took all my business courses right at the high school: office practice, typing, steno – that’s what I brought to the job when I came,” Goodell said.
Goodell said the announcement by Pam Arnold that she would retire after 14 years as principal of the school prompted her to retire, too.
“I just felt it was time, and I wanted to do other things,” Goodell said.
Goodell, 66, was born at the former Heaton Hospital in Montpelier, and briefly lived in East Montpelier before her father decided to buy the home he was born in and moved the family back to Montpelier, where she has remained ever since.
Goodell, who was the youngest of 11 siblings, never married or had children of her own, but has spent a lifetime taking care other people’s children and their children that came through the school.
“I got to babysit a lot and things fell into place, and I took care of my mom when she was sick and I took care of my dad – I wouldn’t change anything,” Goodell said.
“When the kids say, ‘You’ve never been married,’ I said, ‘I’ve 400 of you every day and 400 of you that go home, and I can go home and do whatever, but you’re my kids during the day and at night, it’s my evening,’” Goodell added.
Some of Goodell’s relatives also work at the school, including her nieces, instructional assistants Laura Goodell-Delcore and Diana Goodell, and their brother, Glen Goodell, head custodian. Goodell’s great-great-niece, Isabella Gray, 11, is a student at the school.
In her time at the school, Goodell said she has served under 16 principals. Glen Hawkes hired her. Goodell said her other “three favorite principals” during her time at the school included Janet Jamieson, Jackie Wilson and Laurie Singer.
“But Pam (Arnold) has been my favorite,” Goodell said, adding that she was impressed that Arnold took time to meet with her to work on a smooth transition for a change of principal at the school. “She’s fair to everybody and the kids, and will listen to both sides before she makes a decision. She’s always been very fair and very good to me.”
“Graduation has been the biggest of all the events I’ve dealt with,” Goodell said. “When Principal Bob Chafee was here, we had graduation up at National Life and then we moved it to the high school; and when Jackie Wilson became principal, she felt it was important that we graduate them from here because this is our school.
“That’s been my thing ever since, is making sure that everything runs smoothly for graduation: making sure every kid has a boutonniere or a corsage; working with the parents on the committees getting ready for graduation; getting refreshments for graduation and the graduation dance; and decorating the cafeteria with a theme for the dance,” she said.
Other events she remembered included: a visit by NASA officials to schools nationwide in the early 1980s to promote the space program; the internal reconstruction of the school and an addition to the building; a sixth-grade teacher who would hold Gene Autry film club screenings; and school auctions to raise funds for student needs.
While there have been ups and downs over the years at the school, Goodell said she couldn’t recall any major upsets, although she noted the unexpected recent passing of Julie Michaud, an instructional assistant, who died in November.
Goodell said she was looking forward to spending more time with her family, taking care of her flower garden and mowing her lawn to get some exercise.
“It’s going to be very hard to leave because I’ve been here for 43 years,” Goodell said. “I’ve been here every morning for 43 years and I’ve never been anywhere else but this building to work.”
Arnold praised Goodell for her institutional and logistical knowledge in the school and district, her exceptional work ethic, her support of the MSMS Parents’ Group, Popcorn Friday and coordinating the annual basketball tournament.
“She is the face of Main Street Middle School,” Arnold said.
“I am fortunate that she has been my administrative assistant for these 14 years,” Arnold added.
Allie Richards, 13, a student at the school came into the school office on Thursday and claimed that she was Goodell’s “favorite student.”
“She is always nice and respectful, unless you get on her bad side, in which case you don’t want to be there,” Richards said, with a laugh. “I feel like Linda cares about everybody.”
The school board already has started a search for Goodell’s successor.