A Fond Farewell

Jan Ford, former secretary to Principal Kerri Finnesand, retires after 24 years in Katy ISD


Photo provided by Katie Roberts

Jan Ford (left) and Principal Kerri Finnesand (right) have worked with each other for 15 years and developed a close friendship during their time together.

For almost a decade, Jan Ford arrived at her job on Friday mornings with breakfast – doughnuts and orange juice – for her boss’ son, Broden Finnesand. It wasn’t a requirement of Ms. Ford’s position as secretary; instead, it was a reflection of the relationship she developed with Principal Kerri Finnesand over the course of 15 years. Although they no longer work together, their friendship still remains strong.

After about four years at Seven Lakes and 24 total years in Katy ISD, Ms. Ford retired at the end of the fall semester. She said it was a difficult decision for various reasons, specifically taking into consideration adequate financial preparation and long term planning. 

“I knew it was time [to retire] because my self was just telling me, it’s time to stop,” Ms. Ford said. “It’s time to reprioritize and take care of my mom who’s 96 because I may not have her for very long. But it’s time for me to enjoy the time that I’ve earned.”

Ms. Ford spent many years working in education, but her career first began in the merchandising industry. 

“I was a buyer for Foley’s and Saks Fifth Avenue for 15 years,” Ms. Ford said. “Then, they were going to transfer me and I didn’t want to do that. I started looking at what I [could] do to be home with the kids, and I started with the district as a financial clerk buying pens and papers and crayons instead of clothing and jewelry and things like that. So that kind of led me from one profession to the other, and then I realized I just enjoyed it so much.”

Ms. Ford soon shifted from the financial side of education to organization and management as a secretary. When Principal Finnesand was promoted to new positions throughout her career, Ms. Ford followed her to different schools, including Wood Creek Junior High and Mayde Creek Elementary School. Ms. Ford said she appreciated her time at Seven Lakes High School because of the community. 

“The students here are incredible, they’re very respectful,” Ms. Ford said. “The other thing is the staff. I’ve worked in a lot of schools, and you’re friends with a lot of people. But very few schools do you become a family. And this is definitely a family. [The staff] stop and ask you how your day is, what did you do for the weekend? They share their family life. I see pictures of their children, their grandchildren, their trips. It makes you want to come to work.”

Principal Finnesand said Ms. Ford’s school spirit and work ethic enabled her to meet the demands of assisting the principal of a high school with over 3500 students. 

“The thing I love about Jan is no matter what school we were at together, she’s all in, all the time,” Principal Finnesand said. “You guys know I’m all in, I bleed all things orange and blue, but she is exactly the same way. She just kept everything going, and she was constantly thinking of things that I didn’t even have time to think of.”

Sophomore and Class of 2025 President Lina Ali saw the partnership between the two women first-hand through her involvement in the Principal-Student Leadership Group, which is comprised of monthly meetings attended by student leaders and Principal Finnesand in order to discuss important issues and events at Seven Lakes. 

“Ms. Ford was there for all the Principal-Student Leadership Council meetings, and she’s just so caring and generous,” Ali said. “I got to learn that it’s a whole team job, and Ms. Ford also just embodies that, like the way [she is with] Ms. Finnesand. Their teamwork is just so good to see, and it just inspired me to be a better leader and more involved with my officers.”

While the relationship between Ms. Ford and Principal Finnesand developed in the context of their workplace, their appreciation for each other goes beyond their jobs. 

“I knew Ms. Ford before I had my son, so I’ve known her so long that it was before I had kids,” Principal Finnesand said. “She was my secretary, but she’s my friend, too.” 

Ms. Ford plans to volunteer with the district and be on campus advisory teams in the future, but she also wants to slow down and enjoy the benefits of retirement.

“The first thing I’m going to learn how to do is just stop,” Ms. Ford said. “I get up at four o’clock in the morning and get ready for work and get things done, and so I’m gonna have to learn how to just stop and realize I’ve earned it.”