Janet Godin, Stowe High School’s nurse, lunch lady, field hockey coach and all-around mom figure, has left the building, the same one she left when she graduated in 1971.

Godin has worked at Stowe High since 1986. She recalls she was working at Shaw’s General Store — practically a rite of passage for Stowe youth of a certain generation — when she was recruited by George Adams, who was running the high school’s food service program and was looking for someone to fill in when regular employees went to Florida. She moved down the hill to Stowe Elementary for a stint in that cafeteria, her first taste of full-time employment in the district.

A decade or so ago, when Godin was the food service director for all three Stowe schools, the Lamoille South district began consolidating more services at the district level, and that included food. Godin had something of a career crisis — she didn’t want to deal with all the paperwork the new position would require, but she also wanted to stay at Stowe High.

“So, I went to Jeff Maher (the principal at the time), and I said, ‘I really don’t want to leave the school system. I love what I do,’” she recalls.

Maher asked how she felt about getting a nursing degree, so she could become the school’s nurse’s aide.

“So, at 60 years old I went back to school and got my LNA degree,” she said.

Godin sees a through-line in her career with Stowe schools — keeping kids healthy.

As part of, and then head of, the food service team, she made sure the youngsters and the hungry teens were well-fed. When the district in 2011 took extra steps to protect kids with food allergies, Godin was there to adapt recipes to cut unnecessary use of peanuts, and to educate the kids about what’s in their food.

She was a field hockey coach at the school for 30 years, first as an assistant under the legendary coach Bev Osterberg — who coached Godin in her school days — and then as head coach until retiring a few years ago.

And, most obviously, health was on her mind as school nurse. She said she is a staunch adherent to the connection between physical and mental well-being, whether it’s exercise, nutrition or just a good old talk. She said she was always there for students, whether in the nurse’s office, the cafeteria or the locker room. That was particularly true during the pandemic.

“My door was always open to anyone, children or adults,” she said. “There were many, many that I had go through my door over the years.”

Godin isn’t retiring because of the pandemic or political rhetoric or, really, anything school-related, she said — she’s even already agreed to do some substitute teaching and has been asked to get back on the field hockey pitch in some capacity.

Instead, she and her husband Bruce had planned their retirements at the same time. Bruce recently wrapped up a 42-year career with Stowe’s parks and recreation department, giving the Godins 77 years of service to the town between them.

“I went back and forth, and it was with much thought, and there were times when I didn’t feel like I wanted to,” she said.

Ultimately, though, her biological family won out over her school one. The couple has grandchildren to dote over, and a daughter lives in Florida, and she wants to be able to finally come and go as she pleases to visit her.

Godin is also taking home a parting gift: this year’s Stowe Teachers’ Friend of Education Award.

Janet Godin, who is retiring after 35 years of service in Stowe’s schools, receives the Friend of Education Award from Ian Shea, president of …

The award goes to “someone from the community that has demonstrated a level of involvement in support of our schools and students, that goes above and beyond,” according to Ian Shea, president of the Lamoille South Educators Association, who presented Godin with the award.

“Janet is someone that, on many levels, has supported our students and because of her contribution has bettered the students and our educational community as a result,” Shea said. “In her time in both the school’s food service and later in her role as school nurse Janet took care of everyone. She was an unofficial counselor to students and faculty alike.”

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