School Board Recognizes Former Executive Secretary Joyce Michaels by Naming Board Room in Her Honor

Longtime Executive Secretary Joyce Michaels stands in front of an old log cabin that sits adjacent to her home in southern Murfreesboro.

Rutherford County Schools 

Joyce Michaels would still be working today if her health allowed. 

The longtime executive secretary to the Director of Schools and School Board, Michaels retired in 2021 after serving in the role since 1986.  

It was her second career, having previously worked at General Electric in Murfreesboro. 

She was hired by former schools director Jerry Gaither and went on to serve with distinction, assisting nine school superintendents and countless School Board members.  

On Nov. 3, the School Board honored Michaels by naming the Board’s meeting room in her honor.  

From her quiet and peaceful home in southern Murfreesboro, Michaels sat for a Q&A interview to talk about her love for the job and how she learned to be a good servant by always showing kindness.

Q: What’s it been like to be away from the school district the past couple of years? 

A: This has been hard mentally and physically. But you know, I’m surviving. It’s been hard just being away from work. 

Q: You had a long career with RCS and could have retired whenever you were ready. Why did you choose to stay so long? 

A: I would still be working probably, well, if I hadn’t had the stroke. Why did I like it? I just loved it. (I loved) the people and thinking I was helping people and just being structured and doing something. I mean every day was different. It was just fun. I don’t know if I would have loved working in other places as much as I did the school board, but I loved it. Even when everything is in turmoil. It was kind of neat to help the parents that came in. I felt like I could help them and make them feel comfortable.  

Q: You are known for being able work with a diverse group of people and helping them do their jobs better and accomplish their goals. What’s your secret? 

A: Well, everybody’s personality is different. And you just have to adjust your thoughts to what their personality is. It doesn’t bother me if they don’t agree with me or anything. But I think being kind and listening to people is the main key. 

Just be kind to people. 

Q: What do you think about the Board room being named after you? 

A: I think it’s wonderful. I love that boardroom. I’ve always been very protective of it and watching what people did, I wouldn’t let them mess it up. But I was shocked (that the Board chose to name it for me). I just feel really humbled and I’m really pleased they would even think of doing it.  

Q: One more question, what was your guiding philosophy that you used to do your job so well? 

A: To be the best I can be every day and help the most people I could. I never, never wanted to just halfway do my job. It’s to be kind to people and make them feel welcome because they usually don’t come in the director’s office unless they have a problem. They don’t come in just say “hello” usually. You know, you can’t always solve the problem, but you can listen to them and sometimes they just want to talk, to tell somebody.