She is the smiling face you see upon entering Bernard Zell, the woman with all the answers and a fixture of our school community. And since her arrival in the role of receptionist more than 20 years ago, Ms. Kimberly Houston has been the go-to person for fielding any and all questions about BZ.
A native of Evanston, Illinois, Ms. Houston today lives in the Hyde Park area and makes the daily commute up to Lakeview each morning in time to greet students, parents, faculty and staff as they head to their classrooms and offices. But in her first year on the job, she saw far fewer students coming through the door each day—about 200, compared to more than 500 today.
Beyond the sheer number of students though, Ms. Houston has seen other significant changes at Bernard Zell. Early on, she remembers sharing the nurse’s responsibilities with Margaret Johnson, who worked in the office at the time. She also watched students play in the parking lot before the school ever had a field. Inevitably, she also remembers a few broken car windows from stray balls and other recess equipment. But perhaps most notable is Ms. Houston’s recent relocation to the first floor of our newly opened building. From her new post, she can hear students singing in the Makom Rina, she can see recess and gym classes out on the field, and she’s simply a more visible ambassador working tirelessly on behalf of students.
Over the last 20 years, Ms. Houston has enjoyed seeing students grow-up, some of whom are now back as parents with their kids in the school. Other alumni, including Dani Steele and Mitch Daar, she has seen come back and serve as teachers. No matter who approaches her desk, Ms. Houston is an expert in offering assistance with patience and warmth and has an incredible ability to forge long-lasting relationships which together have made her a crucial piece of the Bernard Zell community.