The 2016-17 school year marks 40 years of service to Redmond School District for Elton Gregory Middle School’s Attendance Secretary Kay Crafton.
A Redmond native, Crafton began working for the district right out of college. She worked as a special education assistant for 28 years before becoming an attendance secretary for the past 12.
“I’ve been fortunate to work with incredible staff in both positions,” Crafton said. “Their desire to provide the best education possible has always been an inspiration to me.”
Referred to as “Redmond’s historian” by her co-workers, Crafton has no problem with the nickname or with earning it by living almost exclusively in her hometown after her parents moved to the area after WWII. She briefly lived in Salem, Ore. while attending Chemeketa Community College where she studied early childhood education.
“A lot of people move around chasing new jobs or the ideal climate, but I feel lucky to have found an employer worth serving for this long and an area and community I love so much,” Crafton said.
Over the years, Crafton has watched Redmond grow from its post-WWII size of about 2,000 people to its current size of over 28,000.
“There are areas all over town, including the homes around Elton Gregory, that were farms and fields not that long ago,” Crafton shared. “Despite its growth, Redmond has managed to maintain its small town appeal and friendly, welcoming nature.”
When asked to point out some career highlights, Crafton said there were too many to list, but that she particularly enjoys working in a building named after a man (Elton Gregory) she first encountered when he was her principal in sixth, seventh and eighth grade. She later knew Gregory not as her principal, but as her boss when he was principal at Obsidian Middle School.
Redmond School District Superintendent Mike McIntosh said he wishes he had more “Kays” working for the district. McIntosh and Crafton both came to Elton Gregory in 2007 to open the then brand new middle school and worked together every day for four years while he served as the school’s principal.
“Kay is a rock solid member of this team and continues to provide a steadying hand in the lives of students and adults,” McIntosh said. “Kids are always greeted with a smile and she knows most, if not all, by name. It’s been a pleasure to work with her in various capacities over the years.”
Crafton says people have asked her over the years if she gets bored of working in one place for so long, but boredom is the furthest thing from her mind when she comes to work day in and day out, she explained.
“I enjoy working in an profession made up of people from kindergarten to folks my age and beyond,” Crafton said. “Working with people means that there is always excitement and challenges and with that comes great satisfaction.”
Elton Gregory Principal Tracie Renwick warned the author of this story that Crafton would be reluctant to sit down for an interview, saying that despite her hard work over the past 40 years, she isn’t interested in recognition.
“Kay represents the solid dedication and work ethic that keeps our schools running,” Renwick said. “She consistently embodies professionalism and level-headedness, even in high-stress situations. She is often the first face and first voice our visitors encounter, and I can always trust in her competence and diplomacy.”
Crafton is a proud product of the Redmond School District, as are her three children who all graduated from Redmond High School.
“My children are leading thriving, successful lives,” Crafton said. “I’m thankful for the sound educational foundation we all received here. I have three amazing granddaughters and I hope they are fortunate to attend a school district as dedicated to the success of every child as Redmond School District.”
Over the past four decades, Crafton has worked at Redmond High School, Obsidian Middle School, Evergreen Elementary (since closed and reopened as the new Redmond City Hall), the Hugh Hartman building and Elton Gregory Middle School.
Crafton said she is happy to make Elton Gregory her last stop on what will ultimately become a 40-plus year career, because no, she doesn’t have plans to retire any time soon.