Melody Dutcher is the lead lunch lady at the William H. Barton Intermediate School.
Now in her 18th year with the Queensbury Union Free School District, Dutcher has exceeded her own employment goals. She started working for the district because her own children were little and just starting their school careers. She needed a job that could accommodate their schedules, and where better to find that than in a school?
“I always said that I would stay here until I’m a grandmother because I just love it,” she said. “Now I have five grandkids and the oldest is nine!”
Breakfast and lunches at WHBI wouldn’t be possible without Dutcher and her dedicated team in the kitchen.
“We all chip in and help each other. We’re a really good team," she said.
Their day starts at 7 a.m. when they get all of the machines and ovens on and then serve breakfast. After the morning dash, they quickly pivot to prepping for the lunch rush before cleaning up and heading home.
“We’ve got it down to a science," said Dutcher.
Dutcher's face has been a familiar one at WHBI for most of her career. She enjoys being around the fourth- and fifth-grade students because she can have conversations with them; they come to her with stories or seeking advice.
“They’re cute right now. They’re still at that good age, and they still listen,” she adds with a laugh.
The students are what make her tick, but Dutcher loves the family she’s created at her home away from home.
“I like that this building always includes me. They’ve given me the 'Go with the Flow' awards and 'The Top Chef' awards. It’s just little things that make me feel so good that I’m so included with them. This is a great building.”
A building, she said, she’s fortunate to be in and will be in for a bit longer.
“I guess I’m going to have to wait until I’m a great-grandma now,” she jokes.