Back To School

PAYSON PEOPLE

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"I couldn't wait to get out of high school," Judy Neese said.

But, as fate would have it, she wasn't out of high school for long.

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Judy Neese

When Neese began her career after raising her own family, it was back to high school as a teacher's aide.

Previously, she had volunteered in her children's classrooms in the Valley. With recommendations in hand from those teachers, she applied for a teacher's aide position at Payson High School.

That was 1983.

In the 22 years that followed, Neese touched many lives.

"The biggest challenge I ever had as an aide was separating a fight, but on a day-to-day basis, it was getting students to pay attention to what I was helping to teach them and what I was trying to do for them.

"I didn't think of it as a challenge, I loved it."

The woman who could not wait to get out of school went back to college and took sign language courses so she could better assist students.

"Before I left the classroom, I had children of my former students in the class," Neese said.

The first time she helped the child of a former student it was a "little odd" but it fast made the experience all the more rewarding.

Even with her change of job, after accepting a position as the secretary in the PHS counselors' office a year ago, she still hears from former students.

"A mom (and former student) told her child not too long ago, ‘If you ever get in any trouble, Mrs. Neese is still there. You go see her. She'll help you'," Neese said.

She is still friends with students she had those first years. Not only does she see them around town, Neese was invited to the hospital when a former student became a father for the first time.

"It is interesting to see them as adults," she said. What comes around goes around. "My mom had been under hospice care, she is off it right now, but one of her nurses and two of her housekeepers were former students."

When Neese is not at work she enjoys camping. The Neese family started camping on vacations because they were on a budget. But the fresh air and appeal of the outdoors stuck and has become a favorite pastime with Thanksgivings at Lake Roosevelt with a group of friends and family trips to Utah each year.

Back at the family homestead in Round Valley, Neese keeps busy playing with her five grandchildren, and her pets, Stitch, the Jack Russell terrier, and Tom the turkey.

Profile

Born: Los Angeles, Calif.

Hometown: Payson

Occupation: Secretary for the guidance department at Payson High School

When did you move to Payson and what brought you here?

I was raised in South Phoenix and lived there until 1983 when my husband Victor and I decided to get out our kids out of the big town and we liked Payson because it is centrally located.

What's the biggest risk you've taken recently? I changed from being a resource department aide to a secretary in August 2005. That was the scariest, but I love it and I work with great people.

Greatest accomplishment: I've been married to the same man for 36 years.

Three things you want people to know about you: I'm caring, quiet and shy.

When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? A secretary. In high school I took typing, dictation and shorthand for three years. They don't even teach shorthand any more. I never did anything with those skills until I came to work at the guidance center.

Favorites

Book: I like all kinds of books and I love to read.

Food: Mexican

Vacation spot: Camping -- anywhere.

Hobby: Crocheting

Movie: "The Wizard of Oz"

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