After serving as the right-hand woman to three Hesperia Unified superintendents, Deb Baker will be packing up her locker and going home Thursday, retiring from the school district after 25 years.


"I'm ready to start a different phase of my life," Baker said Friday, between phone calls. "I'm going to take three or four months to decide what I want to do when I grow up."


Baker didn't start out in education. She was assembling software packages for Apple Computer at a company in Apple Valley when she put her name in on a whim to serve as a substitute at the newly formed Hesperia Unified School District. Instead, she was hired to work as a secretary at Mojave High School, the district's first continuation high school.


"I'd never worked in a school before," she said. "I learned a lot about life there."


After she left Mojave and daily interaction with students for the district office, Baker went on to organize or lead district organizations that raised money for student scholarships, raising thousands for students in need since 1997.


Despite not planning on a career in education, she found herself working 25 years at the Victor Valley's largest employer.


"It was the people in the school district," she said. "Even those I don't always agree with have a real heart for kids. When you're a part of that kind of team, you feel like you can do almost anything."


What, exactly, Baker will be doing next, she doesn't know yet. But it'll be something challenging, she said, and something she'll care deeply about.


"The people who have been my bosses over the years have allowed me to ... stretch and to grow and have treated me as a partner," she said. "That makes a difference. And it's been fun."


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.