It’s unusual for someone to have three different jobs their first year with an organization, but that’s exactly what happened to Juan Lopez this year and his ability to adapt, learn and handle every single position was key in his being named the Vernon Middle School Staff Member of the Year for 2022-2023.

Juan was hired at the beginning of the school year as the receptionist at VMS. He was in that position for a month when attendance clerk, Stacy McGowen, went out on medical leave and Juan stepped in to handle those duties. He returned to his original position as receptionist in November and stayed there until March.

When Kari Young transferred to a position with the Wilbarger Shared Services Arrangement (special education), Juan was offered and accepted her former position as the secretary/principal assistant at VMS. “That’s the story of my first year here and me hip-hopping around the office,” Juan said with a smile. “I love my office people! They’ve shown me so much kindness and patience.”

When your job doesn’t feel like a job, that’s when you know you’re where you are suppose to be, and that’s how Juan feels every day when he goes to VMS.

“I like to pretend I’m in a rom-com movie except it’s not the constant joking and laughing, and the preteen drama makes up for the lack of ‘rom-comness.’ Other days it feels like I’m in an episode of ‘The Office’ and that helps me get through the day,” he said. “All jokes aside though, I love that every day is different and being in an environment with kids reminds me of my time here at VMS, and I feel like it keeps me young,” Juan added with a laugh.

“I love my office team. We all get along so well and I love that we work together,” he continued. “I love our teachers! How they can spend every day with little people is beyond me. Hearing them unwind about it all is fun and I enjoy that too.”

The opportunity to be able to make a difference in the lives of students is a big reason why Juan likes working at VISD.

“VISD offers the opportunity for anyone who comes from any background to work and be a part of making a difference, no matter the magnitude, in the lives of our students,” Juan said. “I love seeing the diversity amongst the staff across all campuses. I like seeing the inclusivity for the different communities here in Vernon being represented within the district.”

Juan is a native of Vernon, but moved to Altus before starting the eighth grade and graduated from Altus High School. He earned an associate degree in liberal arts from Western Oklahoma State College in 2014. His hobbies include reading and writing, and he’s currently building his dream library with all of his favorite books and childhood books. He also likes to cookout with his family, play music, and take videos and photos of all his nieces and nephews.