I shared in the July newsletter about the early years of EOPO. As we continue with our reflection of EOPO’s “genealogy”, remember that the organization was growing with a focus on school office personnel as “professionals” in their field.
As we move into the 90s there was a change going on in Education – the State Department was sending out more and more mandates for schools to follow which meant more paper-work and reporting. (Apparently some things never change!) Computers were being implemented to report student and financial information directly to the State. (Remember the Paper Reduction Act of 1995? That really worked!??)
Now school building and central office secretaries needed better qualifications to be able to operate those new computers sitting on their desks and were responsible for keeping more accurate records. They had to “step up” their skills. EOPO was there encouraging educational office professionals to “Challenge Your Tomorrow, Grow with EOPO” from Jackie, “Answering the Challenge” from Shelva, be “Prepared and Professional” from Esther, and “Bee All You Can Bee” from Sue. EOPO membership grew rapidly during that time. Why? Because EOPO provided the professional development necessary for the educational office staff to understand what the State was asking for; to operate the computers efficiently; and to share ideas for record keeping.
During this time, attendance at EOPO conferences would average seventy people! Hard to imagine when today we struggle sometimes to even get 25 attendees. EOPO had more than THIRTEEN affiliates around the state – THIRTEEN!! They were: ACCESS in Clark County, COKES in Centerville & Kettering, FEOP in Fairborn, GCEOPA in Cleveland, HOPE in Hancock County, MCEOP in Medina County, POETS in Toledo, REOP in Reynoldsburg, SCOPE in Stark County, SWCSEOP in Grove City, SCEOPO in Southeast Ohio, VICEOP a 6-county organization in the Castalia area, and POPs was formed with the EOPO past presidents as members.
However, soon more changes came about at the State level. This time involving district funding which began to put financial burdens on the smaller districts as their state funding decreased. This created a declining trend in EOPO membership with fewer districts able to pay membership dues and conference registration costs for their office staff. Attendance at conferences began to drop to half of what it had been.
Many educational office professionals had to pay their own conference fees if they wanted to attend an EOPO event. Some had to use a vacation day if they were going to be out of the office for a conference.
It was also during this period that EOPO had to make the tough decision to drop the annual conference that was co-sponsored with BASA. This was an annual meeting scheduled for the administrator and their office professional to attend together. Although topics covered matters dealt with on an administrative level, the best part of the day for many was the uninterrupted interaction during the travel time to and from Columbus. There were no 24-hour cell phones in use at that time so conversation flowed freely about office, district, home and personal matters. Unfortunately, administrators’ schedules became busier as they were required to be out of the office to attend more state and association meetings, causing a drastic drop in attendance numbers at that conference. It was with great sorrow that the decision was made and a great partnership with BASA became only a “casual acquaintance”.
To replace this conference, small professional development sessions were scheduled around the state to try to enhance membership and participation. These didn’t catch on and were dropped after a year.
EOPO presidents began to direct their themes on what each office professional could bring to the EOPO group with Helen’s “Light One Candle” (bring someone else to the group), my “Cup of T’s” (time, talent, and treasure), and Dorothy’s PEARLS (professionalism, education, association, leadership, service). Focusing on the members’ abilities that could help EOPO grow and stay strong.
Esther led us into the third millennium with her “Leading the Way into Y2k” theme. From there the focus came back to professionalism with EOPO being the key to get you there with Betty Zillick’s “Make a Difference” and Betty (Gillespie) Cox’s “More Than An Image” with Audrey’s “Tip Your Hat to Teamwork.”
In 2003, Judi celebrated twenty-five years of EOPO with “Our Present Linking Our Past to the Future” and a celebration was held honoring Martha and Lila for their diligence in making their EOPO dream a reality. I believe it was at that time that the student and member scholarships were named after these two ladies. Donita Smith put together a beautiful PowerPoint presentation to commemorate the occasion. You can find this presentation in the right bar. There is another presentation that Donita put together for the Fall Conference in November 2014 and it has some more recent pictures in it. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch both of these presentations. I enjoyed watching them and seeing some “younger” friends!
The last several years we’ve focused again on the professional development piece of EOPO. “Valuing Quality Work” from Leanne and being “A Key Piece of the Puzzle” from Cindy. Donita encouraged everyone to “Expand Your Horizons” and Bonnie promoted EOPO as a means to “(Embrace) Opportunities Professionally & Optimistically.”
Cindy’s “Looking Toward the Future” and Bonnie’s “Pursue Your Path: Steps to Success” directed educational office professionals to enhance their skills through attendance at EOPO conferences. Constantly improving and upgrading your skills helps you to market yourself to be able to move up into a better position. A real emphasis on the PSP certification grew during this time also.
In the next newsletter, I’ll focus on Donita’s theme “What’s In It For Me?” Because that is the question these days – what will I get from it. I’ll tell you…
Cathy Kerns, CEOE
Educational Office Professionals of Ohio
c/o Logan-Hocking Local School District
2019 E. Front St.
Logan, OH 43138
Phone: (740) 385-8510 ext. 2724 Fax: (740) 385-3683
The Educational Office Professionals of Ohio is dedicated to promoting professionalism through developing skills, enhancing knowledge, and encouraging growth.