OGDEN -- Marianne Hernandez' three children didn't need day care. She could watch them play from her office window.
Hernandez was the school secretary at T.O. Smith Elementary School, where her kids were students. So every day during their recess, she would watch them while they built snowmen, played kickball or ran relay races.
"When school was out for the day they stayed here and attended the after school program, so they were always with me," she said. "It was the best of both worlds for me."
Today those children are grown and Hernandez has recently retired, but she said she will always cherish the memories of being able to work with her children under toe.
Hernandez was born and raised in Ogden and attended school in the Ogden School District, where she would one day have a career.
"I graduated from Ogden High School and went to Weber State and got my associates degree," she said. "I wanted to work with children so I decided to apply for a job at Central Middle School and worked there for one year. Then I moved over to T.O. Smith."
When Hernandez started working at the school 29 years ago, she said there were only 300 students, compared to today's enrollment of 525.
"You could count the minority students on one hand at that time," she said. "Now they are the majority."
When describing her job, Hernandez calls herself a jack of all trades. Not only did she enroll and transfer students, answer phones and do the budget, she applied Band-Aids to scraped knees and ice packs to sore heads. She even became friends with many of the parents.
"I don't know how they're going to replace Marianne. She is priceless and we are really going to miss her," said parent Lisa Goss. "A little over two years ago my husband was diagnosed with cirrhosis. When I came into the office Marianne knew something was wrong."
Goss said Hernandez drove her to the hospital because she was too upset to drive herself. She also spent hours talking with her and consoling her when her husband died in December.
"God puts people in your life for a reason," Goss said. "She has a heart of gold and she's become a good friend, not just to me but to so many of the parents here."
Teacher Laura Doncouse said Hernandez worked many long hours and stayed late into the night if necessary.
"There were many times where I would pass by the office at 6 p.m. and Marianne would still be in there working," she said. "I think she spent more time here than she did anywhere else."
Hernandez and her husband Ernesto Sr. have three children. Ernesto Jr., Christopher and Hailee. They also own a boxer named Puppy.
On Feb. 15, Hernandez' last day at work, her office was full of flowers, balloons and cake. Teachers, students and parents continuously flowed through her office to hug her and cry over her departure.
"My heart is full," she said. "I'm going to miss it here. This place has been my family away from family. I love these children like they're my own, but it's time. I'll be able to watch my son get his master's degree. I'm going to take some African drumming and photography classes and maybe I'll even be a Walmart greeter."