My Why - Dawn Oda, Building Secretary

April 3, 2023

Topic: My Why

Dawn Oda is the first face you see when entering Riley Elementary School. She is smiley and bubbly. As the baby of a large family, Dawn had to learn to get along with others. In fact, this extrovert is the youngest of eight girls and one boy growing up in Chicago. Running around in the city with her family and friends set her up nicely for her job as the office secretary at Riley. 

Her role is sort of like a Girl Friday whereby every day is different and she’s compelled to be flexible to resolve a myriad of situations. She is one of 80 employees at Riley and likens the school to a little village where she has a key role. “We all work together to make things better. With two new leaders and a new attendance secretary in the school, we are very busy, trying to figure out new processes and procedures,” said Dawn. 

In the meantime, each day brings a host of peculiar circumstances. One student’s mother brings in her son’s forgotten lunch. One sick student requests to see the nurse. One teacher needs her classroom unlocked. With a smile on her face, Dawn navigates, problem solves and helps wherever she can. In fact, she likens her job to working at Disney(R) where everyone is happy and working well together… like a well-choreographed performance! 

Prior to her role at District 21, Dawn worked in a variety of professions. This talented woman has been a graphic designer, a pre-kindergarten teacher, a waitress, a librarian assistant and an administrative assistant in an eye doctor’s office. “I’m a lifelong learner who doesn’t like to be bored. This position allows me to do a variety of things. I used to be a secretary in another district at a middle school but I prefer the elementary setting as the kids are so sweet, innocent and honest,” said Dawn. “And I get to see them grow, which is the best part.” 

Outside of work, Dawn lives with her husband and post-college-aged daughter. She has 28 nieces and nephews and 15 great nieces and nephews, which keeps her very busy at family functions. Dawn Oda loves people, photography and has the perfect personality for the office secretary. What a wonderful asset to our district!