Sonoma County Office of Education

SCOE Employee Center

Employee Spotlight: Nora John

02/28/2018 - Employee Nora John

Nora John

Years at SCOE:

Job Title:
Program Specialist Technician II

How do you describe your job to people outside SCOE?
To someone unfamiliar with the California educational system or education in general, as I was, coming to SCOE can be like jumping from a plane without checking your parachute. It is such a collaboration of various departments, activities and a wealth of acronyms! Being a Program Specialist Technician in the North Coast School of Education requires being flexible and ready to change at a moment’s notice. There is such a wide variety of duties, which can also change on a regular basis, it keeps us on our toes and is never boring. With so many programs going on at the same time, being constantly aware of customer service, and who we are serving, must be uppermost in our minds at all times.

Where did you grow up?
I was born Cleveland, Ohio and moved to Michigan when I was eight. I moved to California fourteen years ago. While living in Michigan, I moved three times because my father was a pastor for different Michigan churches.

Who was your favorite childhood teacher and why?
Mrs. Mathiak. She was a high school teacher who taught several business classes, such as bookkeeping, business English/writing, and typing (yes, it was even a manual typewriter). Mrs. Mathiak was professionalism at its finest. She instilled in me a love of working in an office, and she also helped me get my first jobs. She recommended me to a local attorney’s office for summer help before my senior year and then as a co-op student (like today’s Career Technical Education) at a business in town. This job allowed me to attend school in the mornings and work in the career environment in the afternoons. I went on to work for that business after graduation and that is where I met my husband, Larry.

What is your favorite thing about working for SCOE?
The camaraderie with everyone in the building. It is a joy to be able to work with so many people who are friendly and professional. Not all places of employment are like that and SCOE employees are genuinely interested and caring.

What is one of your most memorable moments as a SCOE employee?
It was definitely the moment I was given the SCOE Golden Bell Award in 2015. It was one of the biggest surprises of my life. My co-workers had been able to keep it a complete secret and I was totally clueless. To this day I don’t know how they did it.

Outside of work, what is your favorite hobby or way to unwind?
I absolutely love to do “Do It Yourself” projects. Finding a wonderful furniture deal at a garage sale, flea market, or thrift store and then refinishing it or repurposing it is the way I unwind. I often spend hours in my garage with my tools repairing, stripping, sanding, staining or painting and making something usable out of my finds. Sometimes they are actually throw-a-ways that I get free. I have been known to dumpster dive. In retirement I plan to furnish my next home with many of the projects I’ve already completed and ones yet to find! It’s the thrill of the hunt!

What is your favorite place in Sonoma County?
Sonoma County has so much beauty; it’s difficult to pick one place. However, I love spending time at the ocean. There’s just something about the sound of the waves, the salt sea air and the feel of toes in the warm sand . . . . . It just sort of draws all of the everyday stress from one’s body and replaces it with total calm. Love it!

What is one thing that might surprise people to learn about you?
Probably my love for playing the piano. I was a church pianist for 40 years for several different churches, both traditional & contemporary, prior to moving to California in 2004. I also played for weddings, funerals, and accompanied various choirs, soloists and ensembles over the years. Now I play for my own enjoyment. I can no longer handle the “nerves” before performances!

How do NCSoE teammates describe her?
Fashionista, lighthearted, friendly, loved by caterers, dedicated, optimistic, fun, health conscious, Mrs. Colombo problem solver, holiday decorator, flies the NCSoE plane (AKA office space known as the AIRPLANE), caring, compassionate, hard working, and all around colleague and friend!