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Working 'For the Kids'

July 2005
Though she never became a teacher like she planned, Jan Hale found another way to help students.

By Mike Llewellyn

Well before Jan Hale got into the printing business—years before she became Printing Services manager at Douglas County School District—she was on her way to becoming a teacher. She had even worked as a teacher's aide at a special education high school.

While attending Arizona State University, though, she decided to major in graphic communications. The sudden change in interest can be traced back to one man, Dr. Zeke Prust, a printing industry veteran on staff at ASU who introduced her to the craft. From then on, she says, "I wanted to know it all."

Hale dove head first into the in-plant business when her husband, who works for Nortel, was transferred to Denver.

"We were given a choice: Denver or North Carolina," says Hale, whose family had lived in Arizona since before it was a state. "But where's the choice there?"

So Colorado it was. Hale picked up her first management gig in July of 1989, running an in-plant for the Denver Regional Council of Government. While she was there, she got a tip from her boss that Douglas County School District, in Castle Rock, Colo., was looking for someone to fill the shoes of the shop's long-time in-plant manager, a 72-year-old woman who had decided it was time to retire.

"It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. It gave me the chance to work for the kids," says Hale. And a commute on the opposite side of the highway from rush-hour traffic didn't hurt either.

In her new position, Hale was at the helm of a three-employee shop with more than its fair share of work. Running 45,000 to 52,000 impressions a day on the facility's suite of equipment (which includes two Xerox DocuTechs, a Xerox DocuColor 12, an A.B.Dick 2850 for carbonless work, plus a GBC comb binder, among other gear), Hale says her biggest challenge as a manager is keeping the workflow smooth. This is no easy task for a school district shop. For instance, work piles up fast at the beginning and end of the school year, but thins out at points while classes are in session.

"To even out the workflow, we decided we had to figure out exactly what order the jobs were coming in and to prioritize them," she says. "If there's a situation where there are a bunch of jobs coming in on the same day, we'll move to a first-come, first-served system."
 

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