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Nashville administrative assistant retiring after 20 years of service

Terre Tollett, secretary to Nashville Superintendent Doug Graham, is retiring Dec. 20.

By John R. Schirmer

News-Leader staff

If you’ve called the Nashville School District administration building in the last 10 years, chances are good that Terre Tollett was the first person to whom you spoke. Tollett became secretary to Superintendent Doug Graham 10 years ago after working in other district offices since March 2000.

That will all change Dec. 20. Tollett is retiring “to do other things, whatever I want,” as she put it.

Tollett became secretary at Nashville Junior High when Graham was principal at the school.

“Then he went to high school [as principal], and I worked for Jan Booker” when she was NJHS principal.

“Then she went off to high school, and I was able to go with her and Mr. [Paul] Griep. Mrs. K. [Jimmie Lou Kirkpatrick] moved to junior high,” Tollett said.

Graham later became superintendent, and Tollett moved to work in accounts payable. Other personnel moves led to Tollett becoming Graham’s secretary again, this time in the superintendent’s office.

Tollett’s career led her to stops at Regions Bank and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce before she moved to the school district positions.

Tollett learned of the first school opening when she left the chamber and Candy Hood called to ask about the chamber job. Hood went to the chamber and later to a teaching position in the district. Tollett was hired for the school job. 

“You don’t know how a phone call will change your life,” she said.

Tollett said she “enjoyed working with the kids” when she was at junior high and high school. “When I went to the business office, it bothered me. I got to know some great kids.”

She said she had “a fun job over here” at administration. “Mr. Graham is great to work for. I had a wonderful job. There wasn’t a downside. I get to be with family for the holidays. It’s not boring. I’m in the middle of a lot of things.”

Earlier in the year, Tollett said she decided “it was time to not work,” leading to her decision to retire. She plans to spend time with her parents, Bill and Mayetta Wilson.

She and husband Jay “will do some road tripping.”

Tollett’s successor Cassandra Evans has already moved from junior high to the administration building 

during the transition. 

“Cassandra will outshine me. She’s tech savvy and young. I’ll miss my people here. I have a lot of good friends. I’m grateful to have this opportunity and to leave when I want to,” Tollett said.

Graham said the position “evolved to administrative assistant. We put more responsibility on her. She’s worn lots of hats. It’s a game-changer for her to leave. I hate to see her go. At the same time, I’m happy she and Jay can enjoy retirement.”

Tollett “knew my every thought before I spoke it. She could read me like a book,” Graham said. “I owe a lot to Terre Tollett and the things she’s done for this district and Doug Graham. She’s a Scrapper. She was raised at Arkadelphia but loves being a Scrapper as much as anybody.”

Tollett was “one that I could always count on to help in any way. She did anything she could to help the district. We’re going to miss her and wish her well,” Graham said.

The district is “starting a new chapter with Cassandra Evans. She will be a great fit. She’s talented, and I look forward to working with her,” Graham said.

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