Meet Leona Lalonde, Secretary at Dr. S.E. McDowell Elementary School

Exterior shot of Dr. S. E. McDowell School, a red brick building, green grass and blue sky
“I encourage the kids to be great because when you believe you are great, greatness happens.”
– Leona Lalonde

Secretaries are essential for schools and centres to run smoothly. Their duties are multifold and include attendance, finance, payroll, scheduling supply teachers, processing and posting report cards as well as the many tasks associated with reception. Moreover, secretaries are the face of their schools and centres as they are often the first person to greet students, staff members, parents and other visitors coming into the building.

Meet Leona Lalonde, the secretary at Dr. S.E. McDowell Elementary School (DRSEM), located in the charming town of Shawville. Ms. Lalonde started working for the WQSB about a decade ago in daycare at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School (PETES) before moving into the role of office agent. When PETES’ head secretary at the time retired, Leona applied and was awarded the position, which she held for about four years.

Ms. Lalonde grew up in the Pontiac area and attended Dr. S.E. McDowell as a student. When a secretarial vacancy at DRSEM was announced, she applied for a transfer immediately. Ms. Lalonde has been in her new role since 2022 and loves it – this is her community.  Even before Ms. Lalonde was hired at the school, she knew many of the students. Leona runs a local summer camp for children, and also used to work for Québec en Forme, visiting DRSEM twice a week to educate students on various ways to practice their motor skills.

Ms. Lalonde sees the role of secretary at an elementary school as also being a mom, a nurse (specialized in band-aids, ice and love), a confidante and a trusted friend to the students. “I love that I am involved with the children and that I can impact their lives with just a smile and a hello,” Ms. Lalonde shares. Making her office into a cozy and inviting space is key to creating a welcoming environment for students who come to see her.  She also shares that it is important for students to be able to connect with all staff members throughout the school, in addition to those who work more directly with them like their teachers and classroom attendants.  This provides the students with a sense of school community and gives them more options for a safe person whom they can seek out for support or assistance.

Secretaries are integral employees who play a key role in the functioning of our schools and centres. The Western Québec School Board is grateful to have so many kind, passionate and dedicated secretaries across our system, such as Leona Lalonde at Dr. S.E. McDowell Elementary School.

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