When school ended in May, Whitney Matthews, a guidance counselor at Highland Elementary, took a week off before going right back to work.

But instead of helping students through their day, Matthews is ensuring that everyone from do-it-yourself customers to professionals builders receive the materials they need from Lowe’s, 414 Fulton Drive.

Matthews said she didn’t know much about lumber, plumbing or electrical products when she started, but through experience and conversing with customers she’s catching on day by day.

“I try to ask them what projects they’re working on,” she said, “and I try to learn a little bit while I’m there.”

Matthews, 31, said she initially applied to Lowe’s to earn extra money to help pay for a runDisney race she had signed up for.

“I’ve enjoyed it, so I’ve gone back (to Lowe’s) the last three summers,” she said.

When she started at Lowe’s in 2020, Matthews worked in the greenhouse, but now she’s positioned at the curbside desk filling online orders.

“I learned a lot about flowers,” she said. “I didn’t realize how many people came into Lowe’s and had so many questions just about flowers.”

Matthews added that her husband deals in real estate and that this summer gig has given her a perspective about his job.

“It allows me to understand more about what he’s doing,” she said.

Prior to becoming a guidance counselor, Matthews taught science for seven years at Apollo High School.

Matthews said many of her teacher friends may opt to teach summer school to earn extra money or they’re just looking for something to do with their time.

Matthews added that she’s a “people person at her core.”

“It allows me to reset while keeping my body moving instead of sitting around and thinking about all the things I didn’t get accomplished or what I want to get accomplished for the next school year,” she said. “It’s also something that allows me to work with my hands, and I’m moving a lot. If I just sat still, I would go crazy.”

Matthews has signed up for another runDisney race, which began in 1994. The races — 10Ks and 5Ks — take place in the Disney theme parks and now are designed as a “run-cation” for runners who want to fit in a competitive race while on vacation.

“I’m a big runner, so this is how I can pay for all of the different races that I want to do; we’re planning to go down to Disney in January for one of their bigger races,” Matthews said. “This has allowed me to make a little extra money so I can afford to take my family. So we’re not having to pinch as many pennies to be able to that.”

Matthews said she typically works at Lowe’s until the end of July and then prepares to return for the new school year.

Matthews said being off in the summers was never part of what appealed to her when she decided to go into the education field.

“We still enjoy days off during the summer; we have season passes to Holiday World, and I’m off every Tuesday, and if I have another random day off we’ll do something,” said Matthews who has two sons — 4 and 6. “I do make the most of my time whenever I’m off or when I get home.”

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299

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