Someone You Should Know: Plaza School Cook Feeds Generations of Kids

Someone You Should Know

If you do anything for half a century, you’re bound to get pretty good at it.

“I started in 1970,” says Sandy Howell, the head cook at North Shore-Plaza Public School.

She’s worked in the same kitchen, in the same school, for 49 years. In other words, she’s fed kids for generations — literally.

“Well they’ve got grandkids now that are in the school system here,” she says. “So it’s been a wonderful job.”

The students know her as Sandy — and they know she’s got a reputation.

“When my dad was in elementary school, she made food for him,” says Addison Wheeling, a fourth grader. “His favorite was beef stroganoff.”

Fifth-grader Drew Erickson’s story is similar. “She was here when my dad worked here. His favorite dish she made was beef stroganoff.”

(That must be some good stroganoff!)

And it’s true: the oral history of Sandy Howell is well known in this cafeteria.

“My older sisters, she served lunch for them,” says senior Ava Rogers, “and I believe my mother as well!”

Even some of the teachers have come full circle.

“Sandy did serve me food, and always with a smile on her face,” says Alicia Rogers, a third-grade teacher. “And the food still tastes just as wonderful.”

You can tell Sandy loves what she’s done for the last five decades. But what comes through most of all is the affection that goes both ways.

“She definitely cooks all her food with love,” Alicia Rogers says.

“Sandy’s always been like a second grandmother to me,” explains Darien Hauf, another senior at Plaza.
“She’s always smiling and she asks you how you are, and she makes you feel welcome,” Ava Rogers says.

“I hope she doesn’t leave!” exclaims Drew Erickson. 

“Everyone’s different, but you know what I mean — you just know them, you know?” Howell says. “And they’re all good kids. All good kids.”

Sandy Howell — the queen of comfort food at North Shore-Plaza — is Someone You Should Know.

If you know someone who deserves recognition, I’d love to hear from you. Email me at

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