Story, photos, and video by Jo Mathis, AAPS District News Editor
Office professional Deanna Tippett says her co-workers in the Small Learning Community (SLC) at Skyline High School are her second family. And there’s no doubt the feeling is mutual.
“This woman is amazing,” says counselor Dennis Brunzell. “She’s the kind face most kids see first when they walk into this office. She’s warm, welcoming and eager to help. ”
Brunzell says he appreciates knowing that each student who walks through the door will be greeted and talked with, and often “Tip” will be able to quickly answer their questions or solve a problem.
“She’s one of the reasons I come to work every day,” he says.
As for the students: Tippett says she loves every one of them.
“They’re all here for a purpose, and that is getting ready for the rest of their lives,” she says. “I want to help them do that, and that may mean being a mother, friend, aunt, teacher, counselor. Whatever it takes. We’re a team here, and everyone is asking kids the same thing: How can we help give you a good foundation for the rest of your life?
SLC Principal Casey Elmore calls Tippett “the glue that holds us together.”
“She anticipates what we need and makes sure we are all taken care of,” says Elmore. “I can always count on her to get done whatever I ask, whenever I ask without complaint and I appreciate that immensely. She’s my right hand and I don’t know what I’d do without her. I feel lucky to have her supporting me.”
Deanna Tippett was born and raised in Ypsilanti, the youngest of six children. She attended Ypsilanti Public Schools and Washtenaw Community College, then began working in Aviation in 1988 at Willow Run then moved to Metro Airport. After 9/11 and job restructuring, her aviation career ended and she started a Pet Grooming business. In 2005, Ann Arbor Public Schools hired her as a bus driver where she drove special needs students for 3 years.
In 2008, Tippett went to work for Ypsilanti Public Schools at the high school as an attendance secretary. In 2014. she returned to AAPS as an office professional at Huron for one year and then moved to Skyline in fall of 2015 as SLC Office Professional to “rockstar” SLC Principal Casey Elmore.
Skyline senior Cherie Belezi tells why Deanna Tippett is such a valuable member of AAPS:
Tippett lives in Pittsfield Township with her husband of 30 years, Robert. They have two dogs, Ruby and Abby. She likes to say that the 1450 students attending Skyline are her “kids” because she feels that her job is all-encompassing as their mother, nurse, therapist, cook, friend, and mediator. She says most anyone who knows her would say she’s tough, but with a loving heart and a hug, and that her office is a welcoming safe environment where students can always get exactly what is needed.
Tippett loves crocheting, movies, camping, traveling and showing her classic cars. History is her passion, and she has been researching her family ancestry for years.
What inspired you to become an office professional? My father owned his own business (Carty’s Music, Inc.) and growing up I would go to the shop after school and help out his secretary. I really enjoyed it and thought I could grow up and be my Dad’s assistant.
Describe an average workday. There is no “average” workday here. Every day is different, offering new situations, new challenges. After arriving, I go through the mail, emails, phone messages. I return emails and pull files that I’ll need for the day. Each day of the week I usually have projects in the works, things that need monitoring or upcoming events that I’m planning/working on. We are on trimesters here so everything gets done three times a year: schedules, grades, report cards. My job has a routine that lends itself to a consistency that my OCD can survive in.
What’s the happiest part of your day? Coming to work and my co-worker Dave has a pot of coffee made already.
What would surprise people about the job? How much people rely on me for the answer. Some days I feel like a walking talking search engine. If I don’t have the answer right off the bat, I can get it within minutes of them asking me. My resources are far-reaching and I pull things out of a hat without even blinking.
How’s the noise level? Most days it’s only noisy during class change. The kids know when they come in the office that it’s quiet and they keep to the plan. If it gets loud it’s because I’ve turned the music up for a moment of “shake it loose.”
What’s your favorite way to spend weekends? Camping, playing with my dogs, crocheting, going to car shows, listening to good music and generally relaxing with my family.
How does this job compare to your previous one driving a bus for AAPS? My current position and driving the bus are very, very different. The roads are hazardous even in your own car and having 60 lives depending on your skills can be stressful. I only saw the kids twice a day for about 20 minutes each time. Here at school, I see kids all day long and dealing with their issues one on one vs. driving and looking at them in the mirror have very different outcomes. I am much more involved in their development, their futures, whereas driving them just felt like a mom getting them to their practice on time.
Favorite websites: Ancestry.com by far the most used one.
Have you learned anything surprising about your ancestry on the site? I recently did the DNA test on four branches of my tree. Some very good information came back. My tree extends from America to Canada, through Ireland, England and Western Europe including Scandinavia. I have some very interesting people in my past. Each person has an individual story but when I combine them I’m able to piece together why I am the way I am.
Apps you can’t live without: My camera and Google Maps.
What were you like in high school? A goofball. Trying to get good grades and have fun, testing my parents at every turn. I had friends who went in all directions and I could hang with any of them. It just depended on which way the group was going.
How do you recharge? Meditation is my go to, I get a massage weekly which really helps. Camping, getting out in nature really grounds me.
What’s most exciting about your professional life right now? Being selected as an Exceptional Employee of Ann Arbor Public Schools! It’s quite an honor, one that I am profoundly humbled by. AAPS employs some pretty awesome staff, so I’m just astounded to be considered Exceptional in that group.
How about your personal life? Celebrating 30 years of marriage on October 1st this year.
You’ve been back to work since Aug. 13. Was it hard to return? Not at all, I love my work family and we all get along so well that it truly is a blessing to able to come here every day.
What’s the most interesting you did on summer break? During a trip to Windsor to do some family research, I discovered that my great-great-great-grandfather was an engineer and helped design the original sewer system for the Village of Windsor (before it was a city) back in the 1850’s.