By Jon Roberts – Denver, Colorado … Many changes have happened in the last 25 years; but one thing that hasn’t changed for RMC education is Pat Chapman, administrative assistant for education.
At the end of April, Chapman announced she was retiring at the end of the school year in order to spend more time with her family. She has seen many changes in RMC, working under three education directors and four RMC presidents and seeing technological advances that weren’t even being thought of when she began her work in RMC.
For Chapman, the current technology has been the biggest change. “When I started here,” Chapman explains, “probably two or three times a week, I would send out a hundred envelopes of information. Now I do it with one click of the computer.”
Her greatest joy and what she will miss the most is the opportunity to work with the teachers. “They have allowed me not to just work for them, but they’ve just involved me in their families and their work.”
For the teachers, Chapman is more than just an administrative assistant. She is a voice of encouragement and hope. “We teachers could not do half of what we do if it weren’t for Pat’s endless support. Pat ‘gets us’ and provides such outstanding support to us that we are left super-charged to press forward with a fresh amount of enthusiasm. Thank you, Pat, for being used by the Holy Spirit to educate His children for eternity. We will miss you dearly,” said Jodie Aakko, headteacher at Brighton Adventist Academy.
Jami Dove, second through fourth-grade teacher at Intermountain Adventist Academy, echoed Aakko’s sentiments. “I remember back to my first teaching job straight out of college. Pat was the first person to greet me when I entered the conference office to complete the new hire paperwork. Her smile put me at ease. She showed me how to use the laminator in the workroom, and she gave me a welcome package of goodies. Upon returning to teach in RMC some 15 years later, it felt like coming home to be welcomed once again by Pat’s warm smile.”
Chapman is well known for going the extra mile to assist teachers and letting them know they are appreciated.
Reflecting on Chapman’s ministry, Ed Barnett, former RMC president, commented, “Nothing made Pat happier than to spoil and love the teachers all over this conference. She would go out of her way to find nice things to do for the teachers, especially when they would have their retreat just before the school year began each year.”
According to Diane Harris, RMC education director, “Pat has been more than just administrative office support; she has been a friend, confidant, and cheerleader for the teachers in RMC. Her love for Jesus and her heart for ministry is evident in every conversation, and she will be missed.”
Lonnie Hetterle, former RMC education director, reflected on the impact Chapman has had on his life and the lives of so many teachers. “When I first met Pat Chapman nearly 30 years ago, I had no idea of the impact she would have on not only my life. but the lives of countless teachers, administrators, parents, students, and so many others. There are many adjectives that come to mind that I associate with Pat, but probably the one that stands out is ‘caring.’”
He added, “Over the years that I have worked with Pat, I have been impressed with her endless desire to be of service and to make a positive difference in the lives of those she comes into contact with. She has displayed in her life the ‘hands and feet of Jesus.’ Through her many talents, she has touched many families and individuals, given them hope and encouragement, and pointed them to Jesus.”
Chapman’s other passion is cooking and eagerness to host countless office and executive committee lunches and retirement parties.
Don Reeder, Campion Academy principal recalls meeting Chapman for the first time by partaking in a meal she had made. “My first connection with Pat was when I asked ‘Who prepared this fantastic meal.’ She was so good at feeding others. Then I got to know who she was and how she cared so deeply for the teachers and staff of RMC. She worked tirelessly to make sure programs were well planned and executed. I was struck by the flair she would always bring to any occasion. Things like, nice packaging, thoughtful snacks, and colorful decorations. I am proud to have served with Pat in RMC. I will miss her.”
Hetterle commented, “The Rocky Mountain Conference will never be quite the same without ‘ketchup loaf, chicken salad sandwiches, and that wonderful soup that inspires people to fellowship and helps them to feel that they are in a safe place. As Pat retires, we all wish her the very best and want to give her the biggest thank-you ever for her years of life-impacting service and total dedication.
Dove said one of her memories was Chapman randomly showing up on the Western Slope to serve hot lunch to the entire school. “She just has a way of making people feel comfortable.”
Barnett said, “I have worked in six conferences, and I don’t recall a conference that put more TLC into their teachers than the Rocky Mountain Conference. Pat, you will be sorely missed! But I want to congratulate you on your retirement and [hope you] have fun with your kids and grandchildren.”
Chapman wants to be remembered as a servant leader. “There is a quote by Maya Angelou,” she explains that reads, “‘People will not remember what you said or what you did, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.’ And I hope that when people remember me, they remember me for taking care of them, for being interested in them. I feel like I’m a servant leader, and I want people to know that I cared for them.”
–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photo by Jon Roberts