Ravenwood duo honored for front office excellence

Saturday, June 17, 2017 - 17:38
  • Star photo by Kirsten Swann Debbie Weiss and Beth Kutyba at work at Ravenwood Elementary School May 26, 2017. Weiss and Kutyba are the recent recipients of the Anchorage School District’s Denali Award.
  • Star photo by Kirsten Swann A sign in the office window at Ravenwood Elementary School May 26, 2017. Office staff Debbie Weiss and Beth Kutyba are the recent recipients of the Anchorage School District’s Denali Award.

After the last students left their classrooms and the last teachers had cleared out their desks for the summer, the front office staff at Ravenwood Elementary School sat down to catch up on work.

“It’s quiet,” said Beth Kutyba, an administrator at the neighborhood elementary school. “The phone’s not ringing. The front door’s not buzzing.”

It’s a rare state. For much of the year, Kutyba and her coworker, Debbie Weiss, are the gatekeepers at the Eagle River school – some of the first people to greet visitors, staff and students every day. Their work in the Ravenwood office earned them a reputation that spread far beyond the school grounds.

In May, Kutyba and Weiss were named as recipients of the Anchorage School District’s Denali Award, a biannual citation honoring employees “who have shown outstanding achievement, service, and dedication in ensuring every student has the opportunity to achieve his or her potential.”

The award came as a “total shock,” they said.

“It’s humbling,” Kutyba said.

“And overwhelming,” Weiss said.

If you ask Ravenwood Elementary School Principal Kim Bautista, it’s 100 percent deserved.

“You know, I’ve been in lots of schools, and they set the standard – they really do,” Bautista said one Friday afternoon at the end of the school year.

The secret to success in the front office? Good customer service is key, Weiss said. So is honesty, Kutyba said. Sincerity. Respect.

“We want people to feel really comfortable coming in, being happy, and if they’re not happy, we want to try and fix that,” Weiss said.

Weiss has worked in the Ravenwood office for about 20 years now, she said. Kutyba joined the team two years ago. Both were once parents of Ravenwood students, and while their children are now grown, their dedication to the school remains.

“We’ve got great families, we’ve got great kids, we’ve got great staff – a wonderful community overall,” Weiss said.

The two front office administrators agree – Ravenwood is the place to be. According to Bautista and a few dozen other staff members, parents and students, though, it’s Kutyba and Weiss who help make it that way.

“Their mission is the kids and school first,” she said. “They really are just exemplary in every single way.”

Contact reporter Kirsten Swann at kirsten.swann@alaskastar.com

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