When kids from Soda Creek Elementary School see Tammy Farrell at the supermarket, they sometimes act very surprised.
“They think I live here at the school,” Farrell says in the front office at Soda Creek, where she serves as the office manager. “I think some of them think the school personnel don’t ever leave this place.”
To the more than 500 students who are taught at the downtown elementary school, Farrell is Ms. Tammy. She is the face of Soda Creek.
During school hours, Ms. Tammy, who has worked at the school for 23 years, helps preside over what she calls “absolute organized chaos.”
“It’s a lot of phone calls. We do attendance,” she says, noting that she sometimes delivers more than 35 messages from parents to their kids in a single school day. “I have 540 kids. Some people forget that.”
She also helps preside over lunch duty for kindergartners.
When the children come in, she makes sure they get through the deli line efficiently.
Then, she moves around the room to tend to the kindergartners who have their hands raised and need help opening milk cartons and thermoses. They are simple tasks, but the kids appreciate them.
“The kids keep you real,” Farrell says. “They are forever keeping your feet on the ground. I love my job. I totally do. I love the pace, from the minute you get here to the minute you leave.”
She adds that it’s the kids that have kept her at the school all these years. “The kids who were my kindergartners are now bringing me their kindergartners,” she says.
Farrell lives in Stagecoach with her husband, Mike. She has two grown children, Drew and Carly, and two grandchildren.
Farrell says that when she’s not at school, she enjoys fly-fishing, floating in boats with her husband and gardening.
Soda Creek Principal Michele Miller says Farrell is the “front line” for the families who move to Steamboat and want to enroll their kids at the school.
“Tammy knows Steamboat, knows our families and knows our staff better than anyone,” Miller says. “She is our rock.”
Back at school, Farrell says a simple rule helps her and the other school staff preside over the organized chaos. “Always remain calm,” she says. “Because you do deal with lots of things. Parents in custody suits. Sick children and tragedy. You can lose it later, but you remain calm while you’re here.”
At the end of the day, she adds, it’s the kids that help diffuse the stress of the job. “They make me laugh all the time,” she says. “They make me happy.”