Name: Venus Bush
Job title: Secretary/office manager at Wayne High School
Background: Bush began as a part-time Fort Wayne Community Schools employee when her sons were young at the Grile Administrative Center. Now a 25-year employee, she has worked at Study Elementary, Elmhurst, South Side and Wayne high schools.
It only takes a few minutes in the Wayne High School office to understand Venus Bush is more than a secretary.
On a Thursday morning about a month before graduation, the six-year staple at the Winchester Road school paused to hug a senior bound for the University of North Carolina.
“I'm so proud of you,” Bush told the teen.
Bush, who arrives at 7:30 a.m. most days and saves much of her vacation for the summer, said no two workdays are alike, but generalized her duties as putting out fires all day.
She makes arrangements for substitute teachers, provides guidance to visitors, schedules the principal's appointments and handles the phones – and that's just some of what she does during the school year. In the summer, she prepares student transcripts, tackles housekeeping tasks and prepares for the new academic year.
Perhaps most importantly, Bush contributes to a positive atmosphere at Wayne, said Principal John Houser, who has worked with Bush for nine years.
“She creates such a positive and warm welcome for anyone who comes in this building,” he said. “She is the sunshine of this building.”
Indeed, from her smile to her brightly colored clothes, Bush exudes cheerfulness, and she has the voice to match until, that is, she talks of her sons. Her youngest would be 30, she said, noting he died at 23, the victim of a homicide Halloween night.
Bush's slain son shares a birthday with Houser's daughter and – although she must do so with a heavy heart – she always wishes his daughter a happy birthday, the principal said.
Bush credits her upbeat attitude to her faith in God. Her church family from New Covenant Worship Center is the reason she is who she is today, she said.
She is also blessed to have two sets of twin grandsons, one from each son, she said. The older twins were born the spring following their father's death.
“They are really the joy of my life,” Bush said, later showing off framed family photographs she keeps near her desk.
With such events as academic awards night, the senior breakfast and graduation, the month of May is Bush's favorite time of year because of the excitement on graduates' faces.
Although she isn't a teacher, she gets to know students through other means, such as at sporting events and in the office, when students in trouble are sent to the principal.
She sees another side of those often labeled “bad kids.” Bush said she talks them through why they got in trouble and tries instilling respect in them.
Bush intends to remain a constant at Wayne's front office.
“This is where I hope to retire from,” she said. “ ... High school is my niche.”