Through most of middle school and all through high school, Janet Bate, secretary at Herty Primary, twirled a baton. Sometimes the batons were on fire. Although she loved being a majorette and playing the clarinet in the band at Broadmoor High School in Baton Rouge, she now twirls rulers and requisitions, a job she describes as one on her bucket list.
She said, “There are never openings for this job. I wanted to do it for years. They stay and love it. I told them when they hired me this job was on my bucket list.”
She had a love for the business world, but her mother thought she would make a great teacher. So after two years at Louisiana State University (LSU), she realized that teaching wasn’t what she wanted to do.
She moved to Twentynine Palms in California in the desert with her first husband. Then after the birth of their daughter, the couple moved back to Baton Rouge and Mrs. Bate opened a dance studio.
“I taught ballet, tap, jazz,” she said.
After the birth of her second daughter, the family moved to the Dallas area.
“It was a culture shock. Everything was much slower in Baton Rouge,” she said.
While in the Dallas area, she took a job with Check Systems working part time as a trainer. She and her first husband parted ways, and she began to teach dance again.
“I would teach dance at daycares, the YMCA, and then I met Sandy on a blind date,” she said.
Her daughter’s father-in-law introduced the two even though Sandy lived in Lufkin, Texas. Sandy was in the lumber business and worked for Temple-Inland, and Mrs. Bate agreed to just one date with him. That was all it took, and the couple were married nine months later.
“We hit it off. We laughed and laughed. He made me laugh,” she said.
She said that Lufkin was a culture shock in the other direction.
Mrs. Bate, said, “I love the slower pace, but I miss the shopping. How can you not fall in love with a slower pace!?!”
She and Sandy lived in a house overlooking the lake in Etoile. They were married for 16 and a half years until Sandy passed away suddenly from a pulmonary embolism last September.
She said, “I fell in love with an East Texas boy. He sold lumber for Temple-Inland, retired and worked with Rufus Duncan, and became a realtor.”
Through her tragedy she realizes the importance of living every day as if it were your last.
She said, “Honor God in all you do. Live life to the fullest.”
Through it all, she leaned on her work family at Herty Primary. She was a long-term sub at Herty Primary and even worked as an aide years before taking the secretary position. She left Herty to work for a title company two hours away.
She said, “I saw in the newspaper that Lufkin ISD was having a job fair. Kathy Jost was the principal at the time. She hired me as a Reading Interventionist for a year. Then Jennifer Scott was the principal and asked me about becoming the secretary. I told her “Absolutely! but let me pray about it”. I’m in my fifth year and I love it. Thank you, Lord! It is the most fun!”
Mrs. Bate wakes early at 4:45 a.m. and starts her day with a “big cup of coffee” while she has her Bible time. She arrives at school at 7:15 a.m. and unlocks the doors in the office. She pulls up Skyward on her computer and gets to work.
She said, “I love the interaction with both adults and students. It’s the best of both worlds. I like to help people. I like helping Jill (principal at Herty Primary) get stuff done. It’s exciting and fulfilling.”
Herty Primary is home to the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) unit.
“I love it here. There is something about our atmosphere. We have a high special needs population. Our teachers’ hearts are tender maybe a little more forgiving or something,” said Mrs. Bate.
She knows what it’s like to have this kind of heart because her granddaughter, Lyndsey, who is a senior this year also has special needs. Although Lyndsey has been homeschooled since sixth grade, she participates with her local high school in cheerleading. She performs on the sidelines at football games through a national organization called Sparkle Cheer.
Mrs. Bate said, “She feels like she belongs, like she fits. Every kid needs that. It’s wonderful. She was announced at a Senior Night at the football game.”
Lyndsey also has a ministry called Cuddles 4 Puddles. She lost a stuffed animal at camp one year that she had for eleven years. The stuffed animal was a comfort through all of her many surgeries. She was just devastated. She used her sadness to help others and began collecting stuffed toy dogs to deliver to children in hospitals.
She said, “Maybe that’s why I was drawn to SPED, because of Lyndsey.”
Mrs. Bate, you are a joy to your parents, staff, and students at Herty Primary. It takes a special person to love others freely and at the same time love business operations. Not to mention, you have some serious skills at the sewing machine. Your State Fair of Texas award-winning t-shirt blankets are one-of-a-kind, just like you!