Steamboat Springs Cheri Daschle, the Steamboat Springs Middle School secretary, said when she was offered a higher-paying job, she realized she couldn't give up spending time with kids.
"I couldn't see not working with kids I didn't know it meant so much to me until someone offered me a different job," she said.
Daschle said through her 26 years of work at the middle school, she has seen former students' children go through school and graduate.
Daschle started her job at the school in 1974 as an aide. She said she became a teacher's secretary when the school grew and eventually ran the entire school office.
In 1976 she married her husband, Dave.
"I watched her grow up from a young bride to having raised two teen-aged boys and (she has) done a great job of it," said Pat Girton, a longtime friend.
Daschle, a third-generation Routt County resident, grew up on a ranch near the base of Rabbit Ears Pass.
She said she spent her childhood putting up hay and working on the ranch. She said her children, Mike and John, were allowed to grow up in the country like she did.
"Partly, I think, I like it when kids aren't afraid of being alone," she said, referring to the solitude and quiet the countryside offers.
She said both of her sons were close in their younger years because on the ranch they had only each other as playmates. Daschle said when her children were younger, she wondered if they would miss not spending more time with other students in town.
"They were glad they got to be each other's buddies," she said.
She now lives with her family on 17 acres of land on Colorado 131 that was originally her stepfather's.
Daschle's youngest son, John, is a senior at Steamboat Springs High School this year. She said she's glad she has one more year to travel to soccer games and spend time with her son before he graduates. Mike, Daschle's oldest son, is studying philosophy and aeronautics at West Point.
She said working at the middle school during the years her children attended school was neat as a parent and gave her a good indication of the education her children received.
"I know they got a good competitive education," she said.
Longtime friend Margi Chotvacs said she remembers Daschle driving her family to her home on school mornings.
Chotvacs, who was married with two young children as well, worked with Daschle to meet the needs of their families. Daschle would cook breakfast for both families before the school day started. Chotvacs said it was nice to wake up in the morning to Daschle making breakfast and being in the most cheerful mood. Chotvacs would walk the younger kids to school at Soda Creek Elementary and Daschle would take the older kids to school at Strawberry Park.
"It's really cool when you have a friendship with somebody when your husbands are friends and your kids are friends," Chotvacs said.
She said she met Daschle while she was employed at Safeway with Daschle's husband, Dave.
"She's like a sister," Chotvacs said. She said she and Daschle were pregnant together with their first children.
"Our kids are grown up and they are still friends," Chotvacs said.
She said Daschle makes a person feel at home.
"I know she's one of those people who you can tell your troubles to and she won't gossip about it," she said.
Daschle also donates her time to the Euzoa Bible Church. She is the president of Hearts and Hands, the women's ministry at the church. Girton said Daschle has discipled many women through her work at the church.
"She has a way of looking at life through her sense of humor," Girton said. She said Daschle is always the first to help a family with struggles at church or at school.
"She not a bold out-front person, but she does take a lot of initiative," she said.
Daschle said her work at the church is an important part of her life and many of her lifelong friends are members of the church.
Girton said Daschle taught her oldest daughter in Sunday school. "I've been a mentor to her and her family at the same time she's been a real encouragement for me," she said.
Daschle said she plans to continue her work with children after she retires from the school district in a few years. She said she looks forward to not having a schedule and having time for scrapbooking and writing local history.
"It'll be nice watching the seasons change without driving Colo. 131 every day," she said.