I know I am going to embarrass her by writing this because she is not someone who seeks to draw attention to herself, but Carolyn Lorenz, who retired on Friday after 30 years as the school secretary at Cinnabar Elementary School, deserves to be celebrated. She truly has a servant’s heart.

I initially got to know Carolyn in 1994 when we moved to Petaluma and enrolled our son at Cinnabar for first grade. By the time our youngest promoted out of Cinnabar three years ago, we had had children in the school for a span of 14 years. And we have continued to have a connection with the school because Steve has served on the school board for the past 10 years.

Whenever I had a reason to call the school or stop by, Carolyn’s genuine positive spirit was absolutely contagious. Without fail, my day was always brighter because of talking with her. I distinctly remember how her warmth put me at ease as a first-time parent sending my over-protected first-born son off to school. Over the following years, I always looked forward to having a reason to call the school office because it was such a pleasure to have Carolyn on the other end of the phone.

Carolyn had the same enthusiasm for her work in her 30th year that she had in her first day on the job which in itself is something to be admired. But when I think about what filled her days for those 30 years, sainthood may not be sufficient. If she had gotten paid by the number of skinned knees, crying children, anxious parents, forgotten lunches, upset tummies, district forms, board packets, and yes, head lice inspections, she would be a wealthy woman.

But I know Carolyn’s motivation behind her job wasn’t to get rich; it was to graciously serve whoever called or came into the office.

Not surprisingly, lots of people feel the same affection for Carolyn that I do and it was wonderful to see the community of parents, teachers, staff, family, and friends honor her on the day of her retirement. At the end of some presentations and gifts to her, she made a short speech in which she said that the word that has defined her is “grateful.” When she started her job 30 years ago, she was grateful, and she says goodbye, being grateful.

Her attitude is an inspiration to me. Thank you, Carolyn.