Take Note

June 21, 2000 1 min read

Steven Velloff once again dodged the ruthless strains of influenza, strep throat viruses, and common colds that often sweep through schools to earn perfect attendance this year—for the 27th time.

“I’ve always looked at work in the sense that it was a mission,” said Mr. Velloff, 66, the audiovisual director and a librarian at the 1,800-student Riverview Gardens High School in St. Louis. “I’ve just never let illness stand in the way of my goals.”

Mr. Velloff boasts 16 consecutive years of perfect attendance. That streak was broken four years ago by a 103-degree temperature and the principal’s insistence that he go home to bed.

He is so consumed by the goal of perfect attendance that he got married on his lunch hour four years ago to avoid missing a workday. After tying the knot, he returned to school and stayed until 9 p.m.

“My goal is 40 years of perfect attendance,” Mr. Velloff said. He has missed only three days of school since he was hired by the district as an American-history teacher in 1978, said David Clohessy, the director of community services for the 7,300-student Riverview Gardens School District.

There will be no award for Mr. Velloff’s current achievement, Mr. Clohessy said. He was, however, featured in the district’s newsletter two years ago.

Mr. Velloff eventually will receive a check for his accumulated sick-day pay—365 days’ worth to date or more than $32,000 upon retirement, Mr. Clohessy said. Mr. Velloff said he plans to give the money to charity.

Mr. Velloff’s advice for a healthy life: “Pursue your goals at whatever costs, and you can make them happen with will power and determination.”

Superintendent Chris L. Wright couldn’t be more pleased: “If all employees did what Steve did, my job would be a lot easier.”

—Julie Blair

A version of this article appeared in the June 21, 2000 edition of Education Week