The woman behind the desk

Former head of security and new office clerk provides insight into the state of Jones


“At the end of the day, we’re all here. It’s more students than security, its more students than staff, and you know, sneaking out the back door, or leaving the door propped open…we are still downtown. We all have a responsibility.” -Tracie Rayburn

John Wang '18, Sports Staff

While there seem to be changes from year to year at a school like Jones, there is one thing that has remained constant for near 20 years; the presence of Tracie Rayburn. Any person entering the building will see her welcoming disposition in the main office, where she will provide the help that is needed. This year, Rayburn has transitioned from school security officer and head of security to office clerk.

“I got here August of ‘99 so I have gone through four principals, and two buildings,” said Rayburn. “I just like it here. I like the parents, I like the students, I like the staff. It’s been like a revolving door as far as teachers [go], but it’s been good.”

After applying three different times over the past seven years, Rayburn feels that she has been able to push past the roadblocks of the process of getting the job as clerk due to her familiarity with the school, as she would require less training than a new hire. As a result of her long term, she has built up an affection and devotion to Jones that has allowed her to be the face of the main office and serve as a practical liaison between the students, parents, and administration.

“For any school, your main office staff is the first point of contact, so you want people who are going to be the most personable and most memorable to be your frontline. [Rayburn] fits that very well with a very nice disposition and making people feel welcome to Jones,” said Assistant Principal Eric Mitchell.

To cope with her transition, the security team has also found themselves familiarizing themselves with new roles and different personalities.

“Tracie was very thorough, she was really good at her job. She was nice, but she covered it up with a mean exterior,” said security officer Jarard Nathaniel. “When I first got here, it was just me, her, and Rudy [Gonzalez], and now it’s nine people on the security team. She’s off of [the security team] but we [have] many different people to fill new and different roles now.”

As a result of the transition, there is certainly some increased scrutiny about the responsibilities of the position and of the security team at large. However, Rayburn is sure people do not have a full understanding of what their responsibilities truly are.

“I don’t think people have a good appreciation [of security guards]. Some people believe that they are just a visual. You may see them laxed around, but if you’re not in the circle, you really don’t know what is all involved in trying to make sure teachers and students are safe and secure,” said Rayburn.

Rayburn keeps security at the forefront of her mind, calling for students to be vigilant and to consider the necessity of security at school.

“Sometimes kids make it hard for us by not wearing their IDs, and I’m constantly watching the news where I’m seeing all these shootings and all this stuff that could happen here,” said Rayburn. “A lot of people believe that it can’t happen here because we’re in a metropolitan city, but it can happen here. At the end of the day, it’s really all just about security. Every time I go anywhere while wearing something that is Jones related, somebody comes up to me to talk about how good the school is, and how good the students are. I just think we need to do a little better on the security aspect as far as leaving doors open, letting friends in from other schools, all that is just a risk.”

The length of her tenure at Jones is represented by her ability to not only be flexible in her responsibilities, but also to see changes and transitions of the school’s identity itself. As such, she’s able to provide her personal vision for where Jones is to go from here.

“Over the years, I’ve seen Jones go from a school that was still on the cusp of becoming a business school where everybody had to be dressed up in hats, and dresses, and stockings to becoming a little rough around the edges,” said Rayburn. “After that, it kind of smoothed out, and now with the diversity, I’ve really seen it change for the better.”

With that vision for the school at large, she also encourages individuals to pursue their own goals through the story of her career and its many transitions.

“When I was 19 years old, I started working in the lunchroom, I was 19 years old, working in a lunchroom, making $7 an hour, and just on my own, without extra schooling, I’ve gone from working in the lunchroom, to security, to clerk, with a big gap as far as money,” she says. “If you really want something, go after it, because they told me that I would never be a clerk, that I needed to have this, I needed to do that, and look what happened. You just need to have patience, put in hard work, and it will pay off in the end.”