When it comes to greeting people and directing traffic, Linda Rivera has the job down pat. She exemplifies characteristics of a good employee in a way her colleagues find admirable. Dependable, trustworthy, manageable, team player, participant, upbeat, good communicator—these are just a few words that describe the person, the legend, Linda Rivera. Chances are you have spoken to Linda at one time or another. She is the “voice of Topeka Public Schools” and has been answering the district office phone at the main reception desk for 22 years. “When anyone calls the district office, her voice (not a machine) is what the caller hears,” says TPS Executive Director of Administration, Tammy Austin. “You can expect to be greeted with warmth and care. Ms. Rivera's smile, attentiveness, positive attitude, and calm demeanor have made our patrons feel welcome at TPS.”
Her pleasant voice and calming personality set the stage for her helpful direction of public and staff inquiries. Those who come to the Burnett Center are welcomed by a friendly face—a person who is always willing to help them find what they need. She could tell stories about “interesting” questions or comments she has heard over the years.
At times, those with complaints have given her an ear full. She has “heard and seen it all,” and has kept her composure and helpful attitude each day. Her ability to listen and assist often reduces the intensity of the situation and promotes a peaceful resolution. TPS Certified Personnel Manager Marie Carter notes, “I don't know too many people who could manage the receptionist desk as well as Linda has. Sitting in that position she must know who everyone is, where everyone is, and what they do in order to correctly direct people.”
Pamela Johnson-Betts, Topeka Public Schools Foundation executive director says, “Linda is one of the kindest, most patient souls the earth has to offer. She has a great sense of humor and interest in others. She is a poetic frustrated writer, observer of interactions, soother of the soul and woman of wisdom. She shares life insights with her children, grandchildren, fellow workers and even the superintendents that have passed through her door.”
On August 31, her time with TPS ends as she enters her retirement. “Linda has been a great representative of Topeka Public Schools for 22 years,” says TPS Director of Communications Ron Harbaugh. “She will be missed.”
When asked about her a favorite memory from her time with TPS, Linda says, “I have been able to get to know most of Topeka Public Schools staff by being here at this desk. And what I’ve learned is the district is comprised of many dedicated people that are devoted to improving the lives of our students.” She continues, “It’s been a privilege to work here with so many co-workers and friends that when I leave it will be with the knowledge that I have met and worked with the best.”