Kutcher retires after 33 years

After 33 years of stability, there will be a significant change coming to the counseling office.

Karen Kutcher is the secretary for the school counselors, and she says every day was a full one.

“I am the one that greets all the new students or withdraws the students, the person that does all the grades, all the scholarships in the spring of the year, and does the scheduling,” Kutcher said.

Over the last three decades, Kutcher has been a huge influence on school counselors Sue Leadholm and Libby Secard.

“She keeps us organized. She helps with all appointments and reminds us what we should be doing and when things are due,” Leadholm said.

“She is so knowledgeable! It’s seriously kind of crazy how much stuff she knows about the ins and outs of the school, Skyward, students, families, and even my own job as a counselor,” Secard said.

Even when faced with a challenge, she always finds a way to make it work. Since day one, Kutcher has been a hard worker.

“The first year I started, all three secretaries were brand new, and none of us had a clue. Obviously, we all walked into a job. There were no notes, no nothing, [just] ‘This is your job. Here’,” Kutcher said.

Three students who were teacher assistants were pulled out of class to actually train the new secretaries in our school.

“The principal at the time actually pulled the girls out of classes and said, ”Here, could you work and try to kind of train these secretaries,” Kutcher said.

When working with someone for so long, they can become part of your family. Not just at work, but your home life as well.

“I have worked with Karen for 27 years. She has been with me for two husbands and three kids. My son still calls her ‘second mother’,” Leadholm said.

“Karen has a heart of gold⁠—she cares deeply for our students and for the community she’s become such a huge part of,” Secard said.

Not only has Secard had the opportunity to work with Kutcher, she was one of her students when she herself was a student at Black River Falls High School.

“This is only my third year working with Karen, but she was here when I was a student at BRFHS from 2002-2006,” Secard said.

Kutcher’s last couple weeks before retirement has been no simple task. Her work has been as crazy as ever.

“In the last two weeks, we’ve had 10 new students come in,” Kutcher said.

One of Kutcher’s biggest rewards from her job is being able to watch students grow up and mature.

“Working with the kids, watching them come up to their potential it’s kind of fun because you get to see later on, you know, when they get older, some of them come back as teachers now some are in administration, and you look back and I think about them when they’re in school,” Kutcher said.

For many, deciding to retire isn’t an easy thing to do. Constantly going back and forth between the pros and cons of retirement can weigh down on a person. One particular thing convinced Kutcher that it was time to retire.

“I get to see kids that were here in the beginning, and they now have kids. So I’ve decided it’s time to retire,” Kutcher said.

Even though leaving the district will be bittersweet, Kutcher says she had many things to look forward to in her life after work.

“I’m excited because usually we just travel during Christmas, Easter, and then during the summer, so now I’m going to be able to travel whenever my little heart desires,” Kutcher said.