There's a certain contagious excitement when you talk to Candida Bothel-Hammond about her work.
She beams as she explains that the San Diego County Office of Education's (SDCOE) Graphic Productions department just purchased a new printer that will allow the team to print in white, neon, and clear ink, and she gets a faraway look in her eyes when she describes the vinyl cutter the team hopes to buy so they can expand into making decals and cutout stickers.
That's because this second-generation print shop operator genuinely loves her job and the SDCOE team.
Migrating south from Montana, Bothel-Hammond came to San Diego in 1995 and started at SDCOE in 2000. She has fond memories of learning the trade in her father's shop, "in an offset world," she said. "I did binding for him after school and weekends and learned the steps from there."
That experience has served her well. She worked her way up to her current position as supervisor III in the Graphic Productions department within Integrated Technology Services. She now is responsible for leading a small team supporting not only SDCOE, but also school districts and outside organizations.
"We work with about 20 districts consistently and do lots of work for charter schools," she explained. That's in addition to work for longtime clients like AVID Center and McGregor/VEBA.
The team's main work, though, is supporting SDCOE employees as we provide service and leadership that maximize student achievement.
Graphic Productions has two high-speed copiers, a digital color copier, a wide-format printer, a laser engraver, and book binding equipment. They also offer a variety of other services such as creating name badges and posters, and scanning documents.
"A lot of times, employees come to us and they want stuff fast," Bothel-Hammond said. "We always manage to turn their jobs around for them."
That's because the Graphic Productions team — Lead Printing Tech Jay Garcia, Printing Tech Eric Millan, and Bindery Worker Laz Ayala — has a good flow.
"We have found a fluid working environment," she explained. "Everyone pitches in and is so positive about their jobs and what we're doing. The team is incredible."
Bothel-Hammond isn't afraid to roll up her sleeves and head into the production area when the team is slammed.
"They know I understand what it takes to do their jobs, and know that I want to help us all succeed," she said.
Success looks different today than it used to. Graphic Productions has weathered technological changes that have had a big impact on the work in many ways.
"The volume of things we actually print has dropped significantly," she noted. "People don't do binders anymore. We used to produce an iTV Cable 16 guide and a monthly EASE mailing and hundreds of thousands of forms. Now that's all online."
But for Bothel-Hammond, change is good.
"I've been drawn to stay here because of the technological changes over the years," she said. "It's not a dying trade. There's so much to learn and so much to do with it. It's not going to go away."