Mary Cullen flies airplanes to celebrate


On my final leg home it started to storm. I had to fly around it, causing me to deviate from my flight plan and for a slight moment or two, I panicked,” student services secretary Mary Cullen said. “But I pulled myself together, got on the radio to update my route and my estimated time of arrival and made it home with just enough fuel.”

Cullen is one of the Student Services secretaries at the school. Before she became a secretary, she enjoyed flying and still does. After graduating from high school in 1979, Cullen earned her private pilot license while attending community college. She spent all of her free time at the airport and co-piloted transporting planes out of state. Despite loving this hobby, reality set in and she realized she had to get a “real job” because flying is a very expensive pastime.

“Although my license has long since expired, I still enjoy flying, with an instructor of course, to mark my milestone birthdays,” Cullen said. “My husband thinks I’m crazy, he hates flying.”

Cullen having her private pilot license is one of the many things that people do not really know about. When someone says behind the scenes, people think of a movie set or theater show. But there is a behind the scenes to everything, including Hagerty.

During the school year, Cullen works with students with last names N-Z and all of the ESE and ESOL students. The other Student Services secretary, Erika Rodriguez, takes care of the rest of the alphabet. Over summer, Cullen takes care of all students.

The job consists of working with new registrations and withdrawals, records requests, scheduling student/teacher/parent conferences, helping with graduation, assisting counselors as needed and other duties as assigned by principal Mary Williams and assistant principal Jesse Walker. Her typical day includes a little of all of these and other small, related activities.

Prior to coming to Hagerty, Cullen worked at AT&T as a systems administrator. She started volunteering when the school opened in 2005, and in January of 2008, Cullen got on the payroll as a technical assistant in the media center. She has been working here since.

“My first job was working with Mrs. Dickison, and at the time the school was still very small as far as staff and students, so everyone knew each other,” Cullen said.

Even though working an office job may not seem exciting, Cullen has had some exciting days. Once, a student brought an armadillo to school in his backpack and let it loose in the cafeteria.

Her favorite part of her job, not including the armadillo incident, is helping students.

“I love working at Hagerty,” Cullen said. “I live in the community, so I very much want [the school] to remain the top high school in Seminole County”.

Even though there are guidance secretaries, attendance secretaries, student services secretaries and an executive secretary, Cullen believes that there is no difference between the variations of secretaries.

“Other than what we are assigned to do, we all are hardworking, dedicated people,” Cullen said.