LaVonne Gerritzen’s legacy at Barton Community College is one of longevity and adaptability. As technology changed over the years since she started in 1974, so did she.
“I’ve been here so long and have seen so many changes,” she said. “I’ve touched nearly all areas of the college and I got to work with so many people here, not just people in my area.”
She started as a keypunch operator, managing the records that tracked students and enrollments at Barton, but things began changing in the ‘80s and early ‘90s when computers became more prominent and Barton built a computer room. She began teaching word processing and serving in a help-desk capacity, fixing printers and peripherals.
She went back to school to finish her bachelor’s degree in 1992 at Fort Hays State University while working full time. In 1993, she became a full time instructor and eventually, in 1994, coordinator of the Business Computer Management Program.
“Working with the students is what I loved the most,” she said. “I always wanted to be a teacher.”
Though she was teaching full time, Gerritzen was not done learning. She took her education to the next level and secured her Master of Science from Kansas State University in 1996. She served Barton in the instructor and coordinator capacities until 2001, when she became the Associate Dean for the Career Technical Education Division, then Executive Director for the Workforce Training and Community Education Division (WTCE) until her first retirement in 2010 when she transitioned to the role of Project Assistant for WTCE.
Her love for Barton drove her to get involved in numerous groups on a volunteer basis, including time served on the membership committee and Board of Directors for the Kanas Association for Career and Technical Education, member of Kansas Business Educator’s Association and has been involved in Rotary Club, Kansas Association of Community College Trustees and more.
Barton is in her family’s blood. Gerritzen is one of four generations to devote some or all of their careers to Barton. Her mother was a cook in a burger bar once housed in the Union. Her daughter, Larissa Graham, operates the Child Development Center. Her granddaughter, Kaitlin Adams, is a student ambassador.
Technically this is the second time Gerritzen has retired from Barton. She has been serving as a part time program assistant for the Workforce Training and Community Education division of the college. This time she said she’s retiring for good, but she still has plenty she would like to do. She looks forward to devoting more time as an active member of her church, quilting and spending winters in the warmth of Arizona. She is also helping to start a program called Circles of Central Kansas, which is dedicated to empowering people living in poverty to rise above their challenges.
Keeping busy won’t keep her from missing her colleagues.
“This is like my family,” she said. “I’ve always loved Barton.”