As the high school’s receptionist, Mrs. Renshaw answers phones, greets visitors, receives mail and makes many of the announcements on the Tyler ISD campus.
Her job is fast-paced, requiring much multitasking, and she can do it with precision. But that’s not what makes her special. It’s her heart.
From the moment she says, “Lee High School, this is Coreen” in her self-described “countrified” voice, there’s a joy and care for people that is unmistakable.
Whether it’s a concerned parent walking into the school, a student needing some information, or the FedEx man dropping off a package, she makes a point to value each person she comes in contact.
“I want that to be a good first impression,” she said of her interactions with people. “I think the Lord wired me to meet and greet, and I just want to be a light when I’m up there.”
Her work space alone sheds light on her joyful personality. Inspirational music plays softly in the background. Photos of her family, students and colleagues decorate her desk and a couple of bulletin boards.
A button on one of her boards says “Choose Happy.” And a calendar on her desk reads, “Taste the magic of every moment every day.”
For Mrs. Renshaw, the joy is something she attributes to the Lord. She said she’s always been a people person, and she enjoys that aspect of her job.
She’s had people cry, get frustrated and speak to her in a language she can’t understand.
“You can go from, ‘I’m sorry, I do not know Spanish’ … to finding that person help, to answering the phone and smiling and saying, ‘hang on I’ll be right with you,’” she said. “And then we’ve got tears.”
Her friendliness extends beyond her co-workers and the Lee community to regular visitors such as the mailwoman, UPS man and FedEx man, all of whom she refers to as her little family.
“I want everyone that I come in contact (with) hopefully to see Christ in me …” she said. “I want people to feel valued and to know that I have a joy and zest for life that I know the Lord put in me. But I really just want people when they interact with me, wherever it is, that there’s just a little light shining there.”
Born in Lakewood, Colo., and raised in Denton, Mrs. Renshaw was the oldest of two children born to a college professor and teacher turned homemaker. She said her parents always described her as a people pleaser, something she agrees with.
Upon graduation, she returned to Denton where she worked as an administrative assistant at the First Baptist Church. It was there she met her future husband, Wheeler, and the two married in 1990.
For 12 years, they “loved on college students” in Ruston, La., where Renshaw was the college and singles minister at a Baptist church.
They moved to East Texas more than 10 years ago when Renshaw got a job as the director of the Bluffs Family Camp at Pine Cove.
When their youngest daughter was in third grade, Mrs. Renshaw started substitute teaching at Owens Elementary School. And three years later, she got a job as a receptionist at Rice Elementary School.
She said the job provided a great training ground for to learn about the computer systems and general school operations. She showed her fun side there, too, rapping over the loudspeaker when announcing discount card sales time.
“Well, it’s discount card time of the year, can I hear somebody give a big old cheer?” she sang over the loudspeaker much to the pleasure of the elementary school kids.
The job opening at Lee piqued her interest because it would put her on the same campus as her three daughters.
Mrs. Renshaw said when she told them, one of her daughters said, “Mom does that mean that you’re going to be the lady on the announcements saying, ‘Janitor to A140. Janitor to A140?’ And I go, ‘I will, but I’m going to try to make it so fun.’”
And she does her best to do that without going overboard.
“I try not to intentionally embarrass them,” she said.
So, one of her direct supervisors put the children’s book character’s picture on the website with Mrs. Renshaw’s faculty profile.
Although she laughs at the incident, she is purposeful in her desire to be a positive influence on others.
“Every morning coming to work I mean I just pray that I would be a light in a dark world,” she said. “I do feel … like it’s a ministry to some degree. That’s one of my gifts is just encouragement and I want people to feel encouraged and taken care of and their needs met even if it’s just right there. That first impression is so huge.”