Former secretary described as ‘living legend’
Dedicated, committed, loyal, levelheaded, unflappable, humble and friend are all adjectives that describe Norma Lavelett and her service to the Lewis-Palmer School District No. 38.
Norma Younger grew up on the family ranch just west of Highway 83, and attended school at Lewis-Palmer in “Old Red,” the only school in Monument at the time, serving first through 12th grades.
After attending Blair Business College, marrying Ralph Lavelett (another LP graduate), and raising two sons, she applied for a job as a school cook in 1966. The superintendent offered her the chance to go to work the next day as one of the two secretaries in the district.
As the district grew, so did her responsibilities. When she was the secretary of the combined junior and senior high, the enrollment was just less than 200 students. She was the secretary and bookkeeper for the superintendent and for the secondary principal, Mr. Don Breese.
As Breese described her in 1986, “Norma Lavelett is a living legend. I consider her the most valuable employee of this district.” Garcia remembers Norma’s friendship and willingness to be tolerant of a new principal and teach her all of the essential fundamentals of running a school. “Norma was so loyal and always confidential in dealing with teachers, students, and their parents. Her ability to multitask was amazing. She could talk on the phone with a parent, put a band aid on a child, answer three teachers who were standing at her desk asking questions, and do it all well!”
A dollar was not spent nor was a teacher hired at the District No. 38 secondary schools without Lavelett having a hand in the process. In 1968, she followed up on the location of Vic Garcia, an applicant in his first year of teaching. “If it were not for Norma’s persistence in finding me in Boston, I would have signed on with D11 and my whole life would be a different story – thanks Norma!”
With sons Craig in fifth grade and Scott in fourth, she was only going to work to help with their education funds until they reached high school. Little did they know she would work with Breese at Lewis-Palmer High School for 19 years and then transfer to Palmer Lake Elementary School and work with Genevieve Garcia for seven years until her retirement in 1992.
One of Lavelett’s greatest accomplishments was her ability to adapt to the changes in technology over her years at Lewis-Palmer. Going from using a manual typewriter in 1966, upgrading to electric, and eventually implementing computers into the district for word processing and data management, Lavelett was always willing to learn and grow in her professional career.
In addition to her duties at Lewis-Palmer, Norma was a well-known baker who made wedding cakes for many couples in the community. She also is an accomplished seamstress and quilter. Researching the Lavelett and Younger family trees is a hobby she still enjoys in her home in Grand Junction. Keeping in touch with her family and colleagues, as well as her new friends in Grand Junction, help this “living legend” to be well informed and young at heart.
Editor’s note: The Lewis-Palmer School District Hall of Fame award publicly recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the success of the school district, which is now one of the top districts in Colorado. Norma Lavelett, Don Breese and other recipients of the award plan to be present at a public reception Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. in the district administration building. The community is welcome to attend.