Most of my days as an elementary school secretary are very rewarding. The best part of my day is making sure all of the children get what they need when they come to the office. Calling home when they do not feel well, giving them a Tooth Fairy Bag when they lose a tooth, a sticker for their helpfulness when they deliver the attendance sheets, putting on a band-aid for them when they cannot, and giving them a Kleenex to wipe their tears……hoping they leave the office smiling.
My day starts with a ringing phone……no time to even get my coat off. Parents and caregivers are calling in to report their children’s absence or asking what is going on in their child’s classroom. Buses are arriving, some parents are dropping off children, coming into the office to notify me of appointment pick up times for their children that day. At the same time I have teachers and students entering the office asking for information before their day begins. The phone continues ringing as I try to get logged onto the computer to deal with the messages waiting for my attention. Finally the bell rings, announcements are being read.
I make my calls to all of the parents of the students that are away if they have not called in or sent a note. As I buzz people in the locked front door I keep track of the students that are arriving late. Now the school principal is dropping into the office for information or giving me tasks to do for the day. Once the attendance is done I start clearing up work on my desk. Some of it has been there for a few days because I could not get to it. Break time. Oh no I have to get this done before I forget what I was doing. More paperwork will soon be added on top of it by the Principal or teachers. The intercom is ringing….oh no a child is sick, I have to call mom or dad to come pick up the little one. Now I can go for a break. I sit in the staff room, bell rings, break over. Back to the office. More paperwork on my desk, now I have to call in for staff members who are ill or have medical appointments. Back to work, no not yet, have to call the bus company to get busses for a school outing. It’s lunch time. Parents are dropping off lunches, picking up students, returning students to school. Phone calls continue. Now I can go for lunch. Bell rings, back to the office.
The Principal has requested a cheque to pay a bill from the bus company. I log into the banking software and produce a cheque. Oh, now a few more cheques. Run to get them signed. Packages delivered by the courier are still sitting on the counter from the morning, along with the mail. I will get to it as soon as I type out this note to the parents. Note done, now I email it to the emailing list, hard copies to the parents who don’t have email. Break time. I just feel like I need to breathe. Trying to get through all of the paperwork on my desk. Almost the end of the day. Phone calls, parents wanting their children to know they are being picked up. Calling into the classrooms to tell them – ‘don’t get on the bus’. Announcing the arrival of busses by route number on the P.A. as they arrive. Children gone for the day…… oh no a child, a few children missed their bus. Calling parents to pick up their children. Looking at all the work that I wanted to get done, promising to get it done tomorrow.
Mary Lou Pringle,
Elementary School Secretary at HSCDSB