WOODSTOCK — Queda Billings believes she was put on this earth for a reason.
One of those reasons may be the comfort, safety and security she provides by just sitting in her secretary's chair when a nervous young parent brings in her kindergartner for the first time.
Chances are, that young parent went to Woodstock Elementary School when she was young and knows how welcoming and safe Billings, the staff and teachers are at the small school.
Billings retires at the end of the school year after being the school secretary for 25 years.
“She has seen so many kids go through here,” teaching Principal Jolene Littlehale said. “They are pleased to see her. She's like a security blanket.”
Billings, 64, graduated from Mexico High School and took a course at Rumford Hospital as a nurse's aide. But a series of events eventually led her to Telstar High School in Bethel where she served as a secretary and study hall monitor, before going to the former Woodstock Elementary School in the late 1970s.
When the new school opened in 1987, she continued her work at the front desk.
“I've seen oodles and oodles of principals and superintendents, and many, many families and students,” she said.
She has seen numerous changes, not the least of which is in technology.
“When I first started, it was just a typewriter. Then they plunked that computer on my desk. It took me several classes to learn it as time went on,” she said.
Over the years she has given hugs when needed or repaired torn clothing when that was needed, too.
Now, the Bethel resident believes it's time to retire.
“You just know it's time. It's not that I don't love the kids, but my body is saying slow down,” she said. “I've really liked my job. The children have really touched my life. I've always looked forward to coming to work.”
She has worked closely with employees at Woodstock school.
“It feels like a family. I've developed many friendships,” she said. “The children have come so far and have become these wonderful people, with many being teachers.”
When she leaves at the end of June, it will be tough, she knows.
“I love the children. I've watched them grow up,” she said.
With retirement, she hopes to see more of her five grandchildren, and she may even travel to Africa with her daughter to help with an orphanage there.
She and her husband, Scott, who is recently deceased, have three adult children.
Billings will continue her work with the Bryant Pond Baptist Church, and she won't just walk out the door to the school and never come back.
“I'll volunteer wherever I'm needed. I'll bake for the PTA and contribute to the craft fair,” she said.