Janet Cruz Returns: Graduate Joins Staff


Written by Ajay Nair

August 22 was the first day of high school for Janet Cruz—again. Cruz, a member of the Class of 2014, entered Kerr High School in 2016 not as a student, but as a staff member. She is currently working as the math center clerk.

Cruz enjoys working as a receptionist and finds the job quite intriguing.

“It is probably the best experience ever. Not only does it bring back wonderful memories from when I was here, but it makes me feel like I belong here.

“Being a staff member is weird. Not in a bad way; I am just not used to it yet. I have students calling me ‘Ms. Cruz’ when I am used to ‘Jackie’ or even ‘Janet.’”

Although she had a rough childhood, Cruz didn’t let that hinder her from pursuing her education. Kerr helped bring her up from the low points and made a difference in her life. She wants to share her experience with other students.

“When I was a student here at Kerr, this was my home. I did not have the easiest high school years since my mother was diagnosed with stage three thyroid cancer. But being here gave me hope and faith that no matter what, everything was going to be okay. I had many staff and teachers cheer me up and support me when I felt lost. There is not a day that goes by that I do not remember what Kerr made me into to.

“Thanks to Mrs. Mac [math teacher Karen Maciekowich], Mrs. Ryan [theater teacher Julie Ryan], Mrs. Tones [counselor Sara Tones], Mrs. Thomas [retired AP secretary Debbie Thomas], [and] literally every single teacher and staff [who] made a difference.

“I joined Speech and Debate freshman year [and] then I joined Cadre Kerr, and in both clubs I never felt like I did not belong. I grew out of my shell and became this person that was full of life. I learned that it was okay to need others, that there was no shame in asking for a little help. And that’s what I want to share with the students while I am here. Becoming a staff member was the best decision I have made in a very long time.”

Getting a job at Kerr was only the beginning of Cruz’s plan to reach her ultimate goal.

“Since I am still working on my bachelor’s [degree], I wanted a job that would allow me to continue my education. I also had a major change this past year from nursing to business, in which one day I want to teach.”

College and career specialist Eugene Miller knew Cruz well during her high school years. He knows that Cruz can tackle her new job as an employee just as tackled her studies as a student because of her work ethic.

“[Janet] has always been a hard working, mature young lady. She’s very serious. She takes her professional reputation seriously. She understands that there’s a different standard for her being a former student here, so she holds herself to high standards and does a good job.”

In the end, Cruz doesn’t find being a clerk like a regular job, but instead as a way to inspire other students through her own experiences.

“Being a student at Kerr gave me confidence in myself; it gave me the power to show the world what I was made off. Being a staff member gives me the opportunity to make a difference in student’s lives and help them achieve their goals even if it’s only by sharing my experience.”

“To be honest, I rather be a staff member just because I don’t have to turn in PAKs, and also because it is very rewarding to give back.”