A Great Falls Public Schools employee is hanging up her apron after seven years in the district and decades serving kids food.
C.M. Russell High School kitchen manager Joan Karls celebrated and reflected on her years in the cafeteria on Friday.
Her alarm clock goes off at 4 a.m. and her day at CMR starts at 5 a.m.
“CMR is a very busy place,” said Joan. “We service not only our students, but we service four elementary schools. About 1,200 meals leave our kitchen before 9 a.m. in the morning, then we turn around and service our 400 or more students here at CMR High School.”
One of Joan’s duties as kitchen manager is coordinating the menu for every day of the week.
CMR High School principal Kerry Parsons said Joan has done a fabulous job as kitchen lead and she’s been innovative as well.
He said, “She’s tried new things. She brought soup to the cafeteria, which certainly on a cold winter day is an incentive for students and staff to eat in the cafeteria.”
Joan said the most important part of being kitchen manager over the years is making sure the products you need get to the high school.
She noted, “Knowing to order enough for as many students as we’re feeding, where it comes from, how to get it here, timing, getting it prepped far enough out, that it’s ready to go without a hitch.”
But at the end of the day, the other most important part is the kids.
“That is what we’re here for and just one smiling student who’s hungry is what matters to me. Always been involved with feeding kids, it’s my primary goal,” said Joan.
Although feeding kids will always been important to Joan, it’s time for her to hang up her apron and retire.
“You know people told me that, ‘You’ll know when it’s time,’” said Joan. “I didn’t believe them, but you do. You know when it’s time to pass the baton on to someone else.”
Although Friday was Joan’s last day at CMR, she also serves on the Montana School Nutrition Board as state treasurer.
Although she plans to eventually retire from that position as well, she hopes to always stay involved.