A devoted wife and working mother of three, Veronica Labonte is always lending a helping hand and a smile to the administrative staff and students of Portage High School.
She worked for Portage Township schools for six years doing clerical work in the elementary schools when a new opportunity came along. Now, she’s in her second year as music department secretary.
Her time spent in the Portage Township school system lends a familiar and friendly face to the students she encounters on a daily basis.
“I love the interaction with the kids. I love being on staff at the high school. Kids know that they can come to me and can trust me with their problems they may face,” she said. “I’m here for them.”
Labonte extends her role as music department secretary to being a listening ear for students, and helping those in need.
“I’ve been known to make a few food baskets for the kids,” Labonte said. “There is always food in my office and the kids know that.”
Her giving and caring nature can be attributed to her family upbringing. Born and raised in the rural town of Hamlet, Indiana, Labonte was taught to always help those in need, but she didn’t initially pursue a job in education.
After graduating from Oregon Davis High School, she pursued a degree in nursing at Purdue University Northwest Westville Campus.
Unfortunate circumstances would force her to put that pursuit aside after just one year.
“My dad got sick and I had to quit school,” she said. “I had kids, and time management with them, and getting back to the swing of things after my dad passed, was not easy.”
Moving into the Portage Township school system made it easier for her to get back on track with her family life and manage her children’s schedules closely.
“I’ve done secretarial work since high school and being in the school system allows me keep track of my children and spend time with them,” Labonte said.
Her own challenges in life are now her triumphs as she works closely with students in need who may face similar hardships.
“I don’t like to see kids struggling. My dad was a big support of giving back, and he was a good person. I believe when you are surrounded by good people you want to share that,” she said.
Though Labonte wished she would have finished college, she finds joy in helping students achieve their dreams. She encourages students to go to college, and always be on the lookout for resources that can keep them on track to achieving their goals.
“If students have a desire to go to college, I believe they should go and not worry if they can afford it or not. They should always ask for help when they need it,” Labonte said. “Be true to yourself. No dream is too high and keep your eye on the target and push through no matter how hard the circumstances are.”
One thing is for sure: Labonte’s door is always open for any problem students may face. “I hope that I can continue this as long as I can, and continue to help those in need.”
In her spare time she enjoys reading at least two to three books a week, walking along the trails, and going to sports games at the school.
“All my kids are athletes so I’m at the middle and high school a lot,” Labonte said, chuckling. Labonte also sings at the praise team at St. Peter Lutheran in Portage and enjoys bowling with her husband.