Retiring Crestview secretary leaves legacy of kindnessJun 01, 2021 10:53AM ● By Heather Lawrence
Leanne Helbling is retiring after being a secretary at Crestview Elementary for 30 years. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)
By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]
Crestview Elementary School’s beloved secretary Leanne Helbling is retiring in June after 30 years. Helbling has been in the office for half of the school’s 60 years, and has seen generations of families come through the school.
“We’ve been like a family, and I will miss all the students and staff at the school,” Helbling said.
Helbling’s retirement is well-deserved. She won’t miss the commute to Holladay from Magna, but it’s also bittersweet. Helbling, current principal Teri Cooper, and secretaries Lora Willhard and Julie Goodrich have formed a tight bond taking care of students and having fun along the way.
“[Cooper] makes us do crazy things. We make silly videos for the end of the school year. We dress up together for Halloween. We have matching shirts for everything. And Leanne always just says, ‘Okay, I’ll do it.’ She has such a good attitude,” Goodrich said.
The four women remembered making a carpool karaoke video. Helbling sat on a milk crate to be tall enough, and then they wore their outfits to the mall to “see who would notice.” (Visit the school’s website and YouTube link to see the 2017 – 2018 video.)
In 2020 they made masks fun: Cooper had masks printed from photos of the staff’s actual smiles. They came back “larger than expected” and covered half their faces with toothy grins, especially Helbling’s.
“We have laughed so hard that our stomachs hurt so many times! When I hear about other schools where the office staff doesn’t get along, I realize how good it is here,” said Goodrich, starting to tear up. “This school has a good energy, and we all clicked. A lot of that has to do with Leanne.”
Cooper agreed. “I always say that a school is the heart of the community, and the office is the heart of the school. Leanne is the heart of our school.” Cooper is also leaving Crestview and will be at Cottonwood Elementary in the fall.
Helbling started her career with GSD working in the library at Vista Elementary and the district resource library.
“I checked out films and materials to teachers. My husband suggested I apply for a secretary job, and the principal hired me. I’ve been here ever since,” Helbling said.
Over 30 years, Helbling has taken on more responsibilities, transitioned to using computers, and given up her old cash register and adding machine. Through it all she’s flourished.
“She’s the one we always ask for advice. Other secretaries call her for advice. She’s honest, she’s a confidante. She’s seen many generations come through the school, including my kids, and she remembers them all,” said Goodrich, who also attended Crestview.
Helbling has made a name for herself as someone who cares. Her friend, long-time custodian of the school Steven Anderson, passed away in 2015. Helbling’s influence and support helped him when he decided to quit smoking.
Helbling started a tradition of recognizing kindness in the student body. Each office staff member got to give away a Build-A-Bear at the end of year assembly. Helbling decided her bear would honor a student who had “shown the most kindness over the year.”
“That was perfect for her. She loves all the students and parents, even the ‘prickly’ ones. She’s very cool under pressure. She’s dealt with everything over the years,” Willhard said.
Helbling’s husband, Fred Helbling, retired from Granite School District six years ago. Now she can join him in retirement adventures.
“I love all the people who have gone through this school – that’s why I’ve stayed. Now I’m excited to travel with my husband. We plan to go to Mexico for two or three months. And I have five grandkids, so I want to be around a lot for them,” Helbling said.
Goodrich, Willhard and Cooper all said whoever takes the position next will have big shoes to fill. “Leanne does it all, and she treats everyone the same, there is no judgment. She runs the office, fixes bumps and bruises, and it’s always done with kindness. She leaves a legacy of kindness,” they said.