At the beginning of October, the St. Stephen’s community celebrated the well-earned retirement of one of the school’s longest-serving employees, Stephanie Johnson. A beloved member of the dining hall staff, Johnson filled our bellies and nourished our collective spirit throughout 46 years of dedicated service.
Johnson’s retirement celebration kicked off during a special Upper School Chapel service marking the occasion. Following a reading of Matthew 3:13-17 by Lay Chaplain Morgan Stokes, Johnson was honored by longtime colleague and cohort Cynthia Roland and Allison Center, associate director of admission. Both speakers shared loving and humorous stories of Johnson, who greeted every school member by name and with a large helping of their favorite dish. They concluded their remarks by presenting Johnson with a lovely bouquet of 46 flowers — one for every year of service to our school.
Following the morning program, school members lined the pathway from the Chapel to the dining hall, cheering and applauding for Johnson as she made her way down The Hill. Later in the afternoon, she enjoyed a smaller retirement celebration with her friends and colleagues, complete with her favorite chocolate cake.
Throughout her 46 years at St. Stephen’s, Johnson touched the lives and hearts of countless Spartans, many of whom shared written and video tributes in honor of her retirement. We thank you, and we will all miss you dearly!
“Ms. Stephanie, thank you for always being a caring, kind and sweet presence in the dining hall. You've shown boundless care and generosity — both with your spirit and your generous helpings of great food. You've dished up warmth on our plates and to our souls. You've truly known and loved all Spartans. And you've truly shown us the spirit of service. Thank you for modeling grace and love all these years. I will miss you, and our campus just won't be the same without you. Much love to you in your well-earned and well-deserved retirement.”
— Alison Chang
“Every day, you would ask how my mom and brother were doing, and I always appreciated it!”
—Tristan Barron '20
“Thank you so much for your kind heart and caring spirit! It has been so special to have you watching over our whole family since our sons Alex and Sam were toddlers. We will miss you very much!”
—Michael and Shane Oberle
“I had the honor of seeing Ms. Stephanie almost every day during my seven years at St. Stephen's. I was painfully shy and struggled with social anxiety, which was most definitely amplified by the bustling lunch hours in the dining hall. My brief encounters with Ms. Stephanie always helped ease my anxiety; in every interaction, her genuine kindness was grounding. Despite serving hundreds of students, she made me feel seen and cared for every day; her deliberateness, gentleness and quiet strength still stick with me. I wish her all the best during the years to come, and I deeply thank her for being an exceptional role model during my formative years at St. Stephen's.”
—Caroline Aung ’16
“Stephanie, every time I cross your path, I'm reminded of the tremendous power of kindness. No matter how busy or chaotic or loud or tense the dining hall gets, you always make a point of sharing a little bit of your warmth with me. I'll miss seeing you around, but I will always remember the selfless love you brought to this school. Thank you.”
“Stephanie, thank you so much for all you have given our St. Stephen’s community over all these years. I had forgotten the year you began, but seeing that it was 1974 makes your career here all the more impressive! You started before Claire was born! And you’ve trounced me with your length of service. Your cheer and energy have added so much to the daily experience of generations of Spartans, and I am so grateful. Best wishes for retirement!"
“Stephanie always went out of her way to ask about how I was doing and what I was up to, from 6th grade all the way through to my graduation. As I grew taller, my voice changed and my hair went through various iterations of terrible cuts, Stephanie checked in on me. I know for sure that I'm far from the only student who can say that Stephanie consistently brightened their day. Stephanie, you deserve the world. Keep being awesome!”
—Elliott Trahan ’17
“You’re the best! Forty-six years is such an accomplishment. You’ve fueled a lot of kids and helped them become successful adults.”
—Tiffany Johnson ’05
“What an act of quiet service you have provided to the generations of children that comprise this beautiful community. The sort of dedication, sacrifice and love that comes with a life of service like yours is a model of the Christian love that’s at the very core of why this school was formed and why it exists. So I wanted to say thank you, on behalf of myself, my daughter Nicole (Class of 2022) and this community. Blessings to you and yours as you move into this new phase of life."
—William Heyer ’88
“Dear Stephanie, thank you so much for bringing your smile and light to the dining hall for so many years! I loved seeing you every day as a student and now again as a teacher. You are such a welcoming presence, and we will miss you terribly! The dining hall certainly will not be the same, but I hope you have a wonderful retirement and some well-deserved rest! I wish you all the best!"
—Samantha Schmidt ’14
“Tears come to my eyes immediately when I think of what an amazing presence and spirit Stephanie has been at the school for so many years. Every single day she worked tirelessly to nourish us all and still had the energy and love to check in and ask us how we were doing. She has been an absolute gift to all of us and she made me proud and excited to work at this school.”