Nashoba Tech’s Dawn Golden always smiling behind the mask

Dawn Golden swears she’s always wearing a smile behind that mask …
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WESTFORD – If you happen to walk into Nashoba Valley Technical High School during the coronavirus pandemic, the face — or, to be exact, the masked face — that greets you belongs to Dawn Golden.

Most staff members, from teachers to executive assistants to administrators, have been working many days from home since mid-March. But every day, from 7 a.m. to noon, Golden sits at the front entrance to the school, making sure visitors are wearing masks, have an appointment and are escorted by an administrator to their destination.

… And here’s the proof.

And, she insists, she always wears a smile — even though it’s hidden behind a mask.“I basically keep the building and staff in the building safe,” Golden said. “I make sure they have the proper PPE. If I have to turn someone away, I will.”

When school is in session, the reception area is usually pretty busy, with students stopping in either to report in tardy or just to say hi to Golden.

“Every day, I usually have about a hundred or so kids who stop by just to say hi to me, and I miss that,” she said. “My job is to ensure the safety and well-being of all Nashoba Tech students while they are here. After all, I bleed the same blue Viking blood they do.”

That’s right, Golden is no stranger to Nashoba Tech. She attended the school when she was Dawn Lacombe of Westford, graduating in 1991 from the Carpentry program with her high-school sweetheart — and now husband — Chris Golden, then of Chelmsford. They have three children — Christopher Jr., 23, Marcel, 21, and Ashley, 19.

After Chris enlisted in the Army, the couple traveled around a bit before resettling in the area. They currently live in Tyngsboro.

Golden returned to Nashoba Tech in 1994 as a substitute physical-education teacher and coached JV softball and girls basketball. (Her credentials? As a student, she was a 1,000-point scorer for the basketball team and posted an impressive .780 career batting average in softball.)

After another stint of travel, she came back to Nashoba Tech in 2014 as a sub and then was hired as the school’s receptionist/morning security.

And her work holding down the fort hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“Dawn has done amazing work throughout her time in reception,” Principal Jeremy Slotnick said. “Before the closure, she was terrific as the face of Nashoba Tech, helping visitors, staff and students in any way she could. Since the closure, she has been a consistent steadying influence, helping to ensure the smooth running of day-to-day operations and maintaining a calm and tranquil presence during an uncertain time. We are lucky to have her at the school.”

Golden loves her job but said it’s just not the same right now. There’s something missing. Something really important.

“I miss seeing the students,” she said. “Without the students, this is just a building.”