By THAI LEE
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — With her hair perfectly feathered to frame her face, she smiles. Her eyes light up as she welcomes everyone who enters through the large swaying door. Enthusiastic and willing to help, she sits behind the front desk of the Warrensburg R-6 School District administrative building. Her voice is soft and kind as she answers the phone and says, “Warrensburg School District, this is Debbie.”
Debbie Bird is an administrative assistant for the district. She answers all calls and directs them to the correct person. Her desk is neat, organized and in alphabetical order is a directory of numbers within the district. She is proud of her structuring of names and numbers. If there is an emergency at one of the schools, it goes through her first and then she reaches out to the superintendent, parents and necessary staff such as nurses. She coordinates van transportation within the district and makes the reservations for different events.
Bird is the heart of the Warrensburg School District, but she may have a bigger heart for the students themselves.
She has been working for the school district for more than 20 years. Not only has she fulfilled the needs of her coworkers and faculty members within the office, but students as well.
There is more to Bird than what’s in her job description. She helps students without many being aware of it.
“The highlight of my career is to be able to see and help students in need,” she said.
Bird made it her job to know every student and their bus while at South East Elementary School and to know each teacher by name in the district. By being personally involved with the students, she came to find that there are many children who need extra care and help. She has provided them with money for food or books. And she was a friend to many students and purchased necessities for sports and school.
She helped out a young girl by eating lunch with her every other week. Before Bird came along, the little girl was teased and ate alone.
The only people aware of her actions are Superintendent Scott Patrick; her husband, Bob; sons, Ben and Lance; daughter-in-law, Sarah; and several parents of the children she has helped.
“She is a wonderful person and truly has a heart for service,” Patrick said. “She has poured her heart and soul into the school district for many years.”
Patrick said he has known Bird for more than 20 years. During the time, he said he has come to consider her as one of the most kind, tenderhearted people he knows.
It all began when her sons were on the high school track team. She would give their teammates running shoes without the teammates knowing where the gifts came from. Her sons are now adults, in their mid-30s. Although they are grown, Bird continues to help other kids in the school district.
Bob describes his wife as caring, helpful and honest. He said several years ago when one of their sons was a senior in high school, he came to them about a friend, Casey, whose family was splitting apart and his mother wanted to move to Clinton.
Casey was a senior, played several sports and was being forced to leave everything he knew behind. Debbie took him in throughout his senior year, and Bob said she made sure to keep him out of trouble. He said she did their laundry and took care of her two sons and Casey as if he was her own.
Casey has since earned his college degree, joined the Army and is now a preacher.
“If it wasn’t for my wife, who knows where Casey’s life would have ended up,” Bob said.
Her fondest memory is of a little boy named Billy who had a cleft palate. She helped him get medical treatment because his single-parent father was unable to pay for the procedure.
Billy told his teacher that he wanted Bird to attend the Mother’s Day program his class was hosting.
The teacher called Bird and asked if she could come. At the program, she said the little boy read her a poem in front of his class. The teacher said the young boy had never done anything like that before.
Her son, Lance, and daughter-in-law, Sarah Randolph, said Bird is “awesome.”
“She helped provide a place for our friends when needed, would be at all of our sport activities, and when I or my small family needs help she is always there,” Lance said.
Patrick described her as conscientious, detail-oriented, and a hard worker.
“Because of her role as our district receptionist, (this is one of her many roles) many times she is the first person people speak to or see if they contact the school district office,” he said. “I could not ask for a kinder more helpful person to be the face and voice of the district than Debbie Bird.”
Bird said everybody is somebody no matter who you are.
“I know there are social workers and counselors out there, and they are wonderful,” Bird said. “I’m in no organization, no Boys and Girls Club…I guess I am my own organization.”