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Principal’s secretary acknowledged by staff, students

Feather Staff | The Feather Online

Brenda Warkentin has worked at Fresno Christian for 34 years on three different campuses.

As the school celebrates its 41st year of existence, Fresno Christian honors one staff member who faithfully served the school for 34 years. Principal’s assistant Brenda Warkentin reflects on experiences and memories that shaped her today as she is retiring at the end of the school year.

Moving from a homemaker to a secretary in 1984, there was much to learn. Warkentin had to become familiar with computers, technology and the organizational requirements of her occupation. The job was challenging but the skills she acquired became a part of her everyday life.

“I have grown greatly over the past 34 years,” Warkentin said. “I’ve grown in my spiritual walk with the Lord and also with my organizational skills. My people skills and how I interact with parents and students have greatly improved. When I got a job I had to learn to balance home and work. I’ve had so many cool experiences that I probably wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t been working here, so I’ve enjoyed that.”

Warkentin began working as a ‘room mom’ when her daughter entered the second grade. After continuous volunteering, Warkentin received a job working at the extended care program after school on the Northeast campus. As she became familiar with the school, Warkentin moved to secretary work and instructional aid for two years and was later moved to a full time secretary job for elementary.

Over the years, Warkentin has experienced plenty of change around the campus. From switching locations from the Northeast campus, to changing her position, the school has provided Warkentin with new tasks and challenges at every turn.

Warkentin’s only daughter and FC alumna, Denise (Warkentin) Rempel, ‘94, appreciates her mother’s skills in detail and organization. Currently teaching English at Merced Community College and pursuing a PhD in marine archaeology, Rempel believes that the courage instilled in her by her mom has made her the person she is today.

Feather Staff | The Feather Online

Warkentin has worked as a principal’s secretary under several different administrators and will be retiring this year.

“I’m really proud of my mom,” Rempel said. “I think, in our family she has always felt my father and I are the ‘academics’, but in reality, my mom has always been the smartest, most flexible, adaptable member of our family. I’ve lived in multiple countries, have participated in archaeological excavations on land and below water and I’ve chased all of my dreams. I don’t think any of this would have happened without the love, patience and perseverance my mom has shown me.”

Warkentin’s influence goes far beyond her family. Working at three of the four FC campuses, Warkentin built relationship with former principal Pat Unruh, going to her for advice, and pouring wisdom into the relationship as well. Unruh confided in Warkentin and appreciates her constant friendship and support.

“Brenda was the most efficient office manager I have ever worked with,” Unruh said. “But, if you observed her comfort and prayer with children experiencing illness or other stress, you saw she wasn’t just about running the office smoothly. The children mattered most to her and she often used her experience as a mother to endear the children to her. Mrs. Warkentin has always been a strong Christian, always letting Jesus shine through her to parents, teachers and children.”

While Unruh recounts her experience with Warkentin, current principal Amy Deffenbacher relies on her assistant’s loyalty to her job. Working with Warkentin for four years, she admires the dedication Warkentin puts into her job daily.

“I think that anyone who can work in one place for 34 years is definitely loyal,” Deffenbacher said. “She has a great eye for detail and she has high expectations for what she wants the finished product to be. She has really taught me the value of hard work; knowing what your job is and showing up to do it faithfully every day.”

As Warkentin prepares to move on to retirement, she recalls stories of children and high schoolers who she was able to influence with the love of Christ. From sitting with kids at lunch to praying with them before class, Warkentin showed kindness to the students around her.

“Over at the Northeast campus, I was almost another mom to the little kids,” Warkentin said. “I can remember one little girl who cried every lunch because she wanted her mommy. So she would come into the office and she would sit next to me and we’d eat our lunch together. It took about three months and then she was OK at lunchtime. That was a special time to be able to help her transition through that, and just be able to care for her along with other students.”

Warkentin’s 34 years of service has impacted the school in more ways than most realize. Her dedication to those around her will be missed.

FC alumna Maddie Luginbill, ‘16, worked with Warkentin as an office aid for four years, running errands, making deliveries and organizing files. Now working towards an associates degree in early childhood development, Luginbill uses the advice and leadership she learned from Warkentin to achieve her goals.  

Courtesy of Brenda Warkentin

Brenda Warkentin (left) is thankful for the years she spent at Fresno Christian and hopes to enjoy her retirement with her family, including husband, Dennis (right) and daughter, Denise (middle).

“I could always tell Mrs. Warkentin about anything that was going on in my life,” Luginbill said. “She was always quick to give me the exact honest advice that I needed to hear from the perspective of an adult and as a friend. She loves Jesus with her whole heart and always tries to be 100% in anything that she does which I’ve always admired about her.”

Wrapping up her duties on campus, Warkentin begins to pass on responsibilities to her fellow office worker and high school secretary, Michelle Logan. Logan has witnessed Warkentin’s patience and guidance in learning new tasks, and hopes to continue in her footsteps in the future.

“Working with Mrs. Warkentin this year has been a huge blessing to me because she is very knowledgeable at what she does,” Logan said. “She has taught me strength and determination. She can tackle anything that is thrown at her. I think these qualities are amazing because she works quickly on her toes to solve problems which has been pretty amazing to witness and work with.”

Warkentin hopes to travel across the country in her family’s motorhome and seeing the east coast during retirement. Warkentin wishes to see the school flourish and advance as she begins a life life away from Fresno Christian.

“As I move on from FC, I look forward to seeing the students claim the school as their own,” Warkentin said. “I’ve seen the younger classes really become owners of the school and I’d love to see that continue. I think that if God is going to grow a school, he’s going to provide the space necessary. I’d like to see the school continue on for generations to come.”

For more articles, read BREAKING: Clovis rodeo celebrates 104 years or John Walsh shares tragedy, teaches from loss during SJV Town Hall.

Slideshow images below show Brenda Warkentin and her friends and family through out the years.

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Addison Schultz can be reached via email and via Twitter @SchultzAddison.

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