It’s 8:15 on a typical Monday morning in the main office. Teachers walk in and out, getting ready for the day. Students wait for tardy passes, forms and various papers.
Principal Dr. Betsy Bockman walks out of her office, holding a plate of delectable peppermint fudge. She sets it on the counter in front of the teachers’ mailboxes, while various staff members watch with anticipation.
This scene is not unusual. Every week, Dr. Bockman brings various baked goods into the office for the school’s staff members. Baking has been something she has enjoyed for a while.
“I think I started [baking] when I was a principal at Morningside, that was 1996,” Dr. Bockman said. “There was a coffee room for the teachers, so one day I made something or had something left over, and I brought it in. I got a lot of gratification from that, lots of compliments.”
Dr. Bockman attributes her love of baking for others to her father, who also loved to bring in treats for his coworkers.
“Every month he would get a cake to celebrate the birthdays in his department, and I think that’s kind of what started it,” Dr. Bockman said. “I thought, ‘that’s really neat,’ so I think that’s where the idea came from, because he would talk about how they liked that. I’ve been doing it ever since, no matter what school I’m in.”
While she was principal at Morningside and Mary Lin elementary schools, Inman Middle School, Coan Middle School, and even when she was Executive Director of the Grady cluster, Dr. Bockman continued to bring in sweets without fail.
“I usually do it at least twice a week,” Dr. Bockman said. “Always on Sunday, I’ll bake something and bring it in on Monday, or on another day of the week, if I don’t have time.”
Photography teacher Kimberly Wadsworth is one of those who looks forward to the baked goods. A fan of Dr. Bockman’s goodies, she is grateful.
“I feel like it’s a generous gesture,” Wadsworth said. “She knows that people enjoy it, and to me, it’s a thoughtful gift everytime she does it. It’s a small way of showing that she appreciates us and what we do. I appreciate it for what it is.”
The typical treats she makes are banana bread, fudge and lemon squares. She also likes to shake things up, usually looking for new desserts that include a lot of chocolate.
“I like to try out new things that I see, a recipe in the paper or a recipe out of a cookbook, that kind of thing, as long as it has chocolate in it, ” Dr. Bockman said. “I do like to try new things sometimes.”
For Dr. Bockman, baking is a therapeutic activity, one that is both relaxing and rewarding.
“There is that making something and having something right then that is just a feeling of accomplishment,” Dr. Bockman said. “It’s a low-level accomplishment, but it is just something that is easy to do and brings me pleasure.”
Building a relationship with her staff is important to Dr. Bockman, and baking is just a small way to make those bonds. For her, interactions over something as simple as desserts makes things “a [more] little personal and human.”
“I think now she and I know each other a little bit better because I try to go out of my way to tell her thank you, and how much I appreciate the effort she puts forward in making that stuff,” Wadsworth said. “The whole world is moving so fast and is so impersonal a lot of the time that these small gestures matter to me. To me, it matters, and that’s why I have such an appreciation for it.”
Dr. Bockman’s baking goes beyond the office, however. Her sweet treats have also become a tradition at home.
“I have two children in 5th grade, and so they like to do it with me,” Dr. Bockman said. “My two younger ones, Devon and Trent, they really like helping me, and now every Thursday, we bake something for Mary Lin for those teachers. ”
Baking is something that will continue to be enjoyed by Dr. Bockman, her family and coworkers for many times to come.
“If you put it in plain terms, she doesn’t have to do it,” Wadsworth said. “She does it strictly just for us. She knows that people enjoy it, and to me, it’s a thoughtful gift every time she does it. It’s a small way of showing that she appreciates us and what we do. I appreciate it for what it is.”