Master of the transcripts: Registrar to retire Friday, capping 18-year Paly career

Jevan Yu, Editor-in-Chief

Nestled in a room toward the back of Palo Alto High School’s guidance offices, she is perhaps one of the most crucial behind-the-scenes figures for students.

Suzie Brown, Paly’s 18-year-veteran registrar, is working her last day at the school on Friday. For nearly two decades, she has been the go-to person for Paly students for inquiries related to transcripts, grade verification and credit transferrals, among many other things.

She is known by colleagues for her commitment and kindness, and her departure will be sure to mark a significant, symbolic loss for the Paly staff.

Brown’s eventful career at the Palo Alto Unified School District began in the fall of 1979, when she took a job at Addison Elementary School. After working there and at Juana Briones Elementary School as a resource specialist aide, she joined the Paly staff as the school’s registrar in the 1999-2000 school year. She jested that the transition from the classroom to an office was similar to being “baptized by fire.”

Brown, self-described as the “last of the old-school trained registrars,” attributed her skills as registrar to Lue Phelps, who until age 89 worked at Paly as a data-processing clerk before passing away in early 2010.

Suzie Brown, left, with Kristine Ludemann, who will take over the duties of registrar on Monday. Brown has worked in the Palo Alto Unified School District since 1979.
Suzie Brown, left, with Kristine Ludemann, who will take over the duties of registrar on Monday. Before accepting the role, Ludemann served as a department secretary and computer lab assistant in the world languages department at Gunn High School. “I fully endorse our new registrar,” Brown said, adding that Ludemann will be “like the young version of a perfect registrar.” Photo: Jevan Yu.

Guidance Counselor Susan Shultz, who works across the hall from Brown, teared up while reflecting on Brown’s career. She specifically praised Brown’s “enthusiasm for her job and dedication to students.”

“Write a good story about her,” Shultz said. “She deserves it.”

Although retiring staff members typically complete the school year before leaving, Brown’s situation is a bit different: She is taking off early to travel with her sister to Australia and New Zealand for a month, starting on Feb. 13.

“It was an invitation we couldn’t turn down,” Brown said.

Into Brown’s spot will step Kristine Ludemann, formerly a department secretary and computer lab assistant at Gunn High School. She said she’s excited to find a “new family” in the Paly community.

And for Brown, the experience at Paly has been memorable. She said that throughout the years, she has been especially impressed by students, ranging from their enthusiasm during Spirit Week to their artistic, musical and athletic achievements.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working here at Paly, not only with a great staff, but with wonderful students,” Brown said. “I will miss everybody very much.”