I can go to her when I crave a snack. If I need something to be signed, she’s there. I’m never embarrassed to yell out her name whenever I see her. These are just a few perks of having a mother that works in the Middle School.
It’s not all about me, though. It’s really about the Middle Schoolers she works hard for. Cathy Kirchmier, a 1984 Collegiate grad, decided that she missed the Collegiate community enough to become an assistant to Middle School head Charlie Blair. Kirchmier took the job in 2015 and has loved working in the same office as Elisabeth Jacobs, whom she has known for a while. “We have known each other since I was 13,” says Jacobs, “and her in-laws and my parents are best friends. [Kirchmier] is so smart and can really solve any puzzle anyone throws her way. I’m really lucky to work with someone who is always willing to help out and be such a good friend.”
Kirchmier’s life before she took this job was a bit different. After graduating from Collegiate, Kirchmier went on to attend Longwood University, which was only an eleven-minute drive from Hampden-Sydney College, which her husband (and my dad) Patrick Kirchmier (‘82) attended. Out of college, she worked for Dennis Stuart CPA as an accountant for five years and later worked as a bookkeeper for Cardiovascular Associates of Virginia for three years. After this, Kirchmier decided to become a stay-at-home mom from the time she stopped working until she took her job at Collegiate.
Kirchmier has a very important job because she is an essential component to the day-to-day operations of the Middle School. Not only is Kirchmier the assistant to the head, but she deals with other faculty, students, and visitors. She works hard to keep the Middle School organized, and that can include fielding phone calls, receiving and directing visitors, noting demerits, and filing important papers. “My job is hard to pinpoint what it’s really about, but I would say I do other administrative duties that help faculty and students.” Kirchmier is responsible for all Middle School faculty attendance and is in charge of relaying any reminders necessary for students or faculty. In addition to this, her desk is located right next door to the head of the Middle School, which can be intimidating.
Middle School learning specialist Mary Margaret Ryan has nothing but positive things to say about Kirchmier. “The gift of your mother is one that we all don’t think to thank as often as she deserves. She is efficient, takes care of details involving students, teachers and administrators alike. There is a lot of drama that goes on in a Middle School, but somehow your mom takes care of it all with a smile on her face. She often will make people laugh even if that person didn’t even feel like smiling in that particular moment. She is kind, patient, trustworthy and positive. She and Elisabeth [Jacobs] make a great team! We are lucky to have her and call her ours.”
Alfred S. (‘21) stated that he “appreciates the work Mrs. Kirchmier does for the Middle School. We have never had a day where things seemed unorganized or out of place. She puts people in a better mood, and she is very friendly, and she has candy to offer, which I like.”
Personally, every time I come down to visit her, I see kids in and out of her office, laughing and giggling because they either need assistance or just want some candy. But it’s not just the kids who my mom brings food for. Often times she will bring baked goods for the faculty lounge.
Middle School history teacher Jeff Dunnington (‘01) agrees that “the Middle School would not operate without her guidance, as she keeps all of the teachers and administrators in line.” He believes he speaks for all faculty claiming Kirchmier is an integral part of Middle School operation. Even when Dunnington is having problems with the copy machine, he claims “she’s always ready to fix the copy machine after I break it.” I have no doubt that her relationships with faculty will strengthen each year as she works at Collegiate.
All photos courtesy of Cathy Kirchmier.