Saturday, October 13, 2007

My Friday at School

I was wrong, the phone actually has way more than forty buttons.

Fortunately, there are only three incoming lines. All the rest of those buttons are for transferring calls to different internal locations (the building holds both the Junior and Senior HS).

But to take it from the top. I woke up two hours earlier than usual to get to school by 7:00. School is only two blocks away (I just usually sleep until 7:00). As usual, I arrived 15 minutes early, but the building was open, and that gave me a chance to get my bearings. Carol, the regular secretary is very organized, thank goodness, and had left things well prepared.

The first hour was spent taking calls from parents letting the school know that their children would be late/absent/leaving at some point for some reason. All those went on a handwritten list. After eight the teachers e-mailed their attendance and lunch counts. Then I called the teachers who had forgotten to e-mail the info. Then everything got transferred to a spread sheet that went to the principal later in the morning for follow up. (A call to the parents of the girl who reported herself sick - not very convincingly, calls to the parents of students we hadn't heard from at all.) At the same time, there were a couple of students who came in for their meds, which had to be dispensed and recorded, students who were dropping off lunch money or looking for late passes or planned absence forms, incoming calls for teachers/staff/students that needed to be handled, typing and distributing the morning announcements. It wasn't insane, just busy.

One mother called to say her son would be late. I asked when he would be in and she said she didn't know, he was out following a deer. This is not as odd as it might have once sounded to me. The boy had been bow hunting the afternoon before and hit a buck, but didn't drop it. Tried trailing it until dark, with no luck. Responsible hunters will not just walk away leaving a wounded animal unaccounted for, so the boy had some justification. Whether or not the state accepts this as an excused absence for funding purposes, I don't know.

All day, there were students signing in and out for various reasons. After about ten I could start following up on things that had come up earlier: lining up a potential substitute for an aide who was in the hospital, probably wouldn't come in Monday, but hadn't directly contacted the school to say so; tracking down a letter jacket salesman to cancel an order that a parent had last minute second thoughts about; giving the school address to an insurance adjuster who was coming to look at a teacher's car; looking up a student schedule for a mother who wanted to surprise her son by coming to lunch for his birthday. (I messed that up, and the poor women showed up 20 minutes early- but at least better early than late).

Activity slowed down considerably in the afternoon. I think Carol uses this time for typing and other jobs, but she didn't leave me any of those tasks. Probably just as well. There was a fire drill. Then about a hour later there was a lock down drill. The principal let me know in advance that these were coming, and what to do.

At the end of the day, another flurry of activity: students dropping off forms, me paging students who hadn't picked up bus passes. Then getting notes for Carol together, gathering up anything with personal information from the desk and locking it away, shutting down the computer and out the door by about 3:40.

All in all it wasn't too bad. I don't think I dropped any calls, and only mis-transferred one. I think all the students were accounted for. There were, thank goodness, no real emergencies. Everyone on the staff was very patient with me (knowing they only had to put up with me for one day....)

But hey, if you have kids in school, give a shout out to the school secretary. When she's a good one, and most are, she's the real nerve center of daily operations.


YarnThrower said...

I'm so glad your day went well! Sounds like you'll be the one they call when they need a substitute secretary!

magnusmog said...

Blimey - this sounds like a complicated job, lots of things to do at once. I bet you're good at it :)