Carrie Chiodi has been with Eagle View Elementary School for 20 years. Except for specific students and their families, however, she hasn't necessarily been in the most visible position at the school.
“I've been in the building about 20 years as a paraprofessional,” Chiodi said.
That changed July 28 when she became the new school secretary, greeting parents and students alike as they come through the doors at the elementary school and following in the shoes of Teresa Peterson, who held the same position for many years before retiring.
“She has so much knowledge in her head,” Chiodi said. “Every time I ask, 'How do you know this?' she says, '18 years, Carrie, 18 years.'”
Chiodi first came to Eagle View when her kids started going to school there. She and her husband came to the area from Duluth.
“We lived in the west end of Duluth. If you are from Duluth, you would consider that the wrong side of the tracks. We made fun of the 'rich side' of the town. That's who I ended up marrying,” Chiodi said. “We met at the College of St. Scholastica. He interviewed for and got a job at what was U.S. Link in the TDS building. He moved out here after getting the job in February of 1996. We moved our wedding up a year and got married July of 1996 and moved out here the Monday after the wedding.”
For years she worked for the Lake Country Echo in data entry and with Breezy Point Resort, but she took time off when they started a family. She had always intended to be at home with her children, so when Eagle View offered the opportunity to work while her kids were out of the house and return home at the same time as her kids, that was a logical option.
“I wanted to still be home for my kids,” Chiodi said. “I had met a couple special education teachers just as friends through Just for Kix way back then. My kids were all in school at Eagle View at that point. There was no reason to be home at that point but I didn't want to work beyond their school hours. That wasn't the plan.”
She had intended to serve as a paraprofessional for Title I kids, but she found an unexpected passion when the school hired her to help the school's special education students. It's one she will miss.
“There are kids I still see that I was able to work with who are, honestly, like family. It was fantastic. That made it hard. That was one of the cons of trying to move on to this position,” Chiodi said.
She will bring that experience with her even now as she is moving on.
“I met some fantastic families and people we still see frequently,” Chiodi said. “We pool party with them in the summer. Each summer I have some kids I've worked with over for a pool party with the special ed staff and I don't plan on stopping that.”
The new position is rewarding, perhaps somewhat for the same reasons as the old position.
“I really enjoy helping people,” Chiodi said. “It's fun to have parents come in and maybe they are concerned. I've been there before with kindergartners. It's hard to be able to assure them that it's going to be fine and prove it to them with our staff of teachers, paraprofessionals, cooks and janitors and everyone who works around here. So, that has been the most enjoyable - being able to help people and greet people. It is fun.”
There's a lot to learn.
“The most challenging is certainly the things you don't see that need to be done,” Chiodi said. “It's a huge learning curve. In my opinion it will be years before I'm completely proficient. Still learning but completely proficient at some point. A lot of hands on deck right now.”
Chiodi looks forward to being one of the people everyone knows at the school, just as Peterson once was.