The following education notes may contain information that sounds very familiar, but I have omitted the names. This narrative of daily activities is fully intended to humor the reader, yet give you a very clear picture of what takes place during a normal day in the front office of Olsen Elementary.
6:45 a.m. – Secretary's phone rings at home and a teacher says, “My son is sick and I need a sub.”
7:15 a.m. – Secretary secures a sub. (this is record time)
7:30 a.m. – Secretary arrives at work on time so she can give the subs directions and show them to their classrooms
7:35 a.m. – A new student arrives to check in. The enrollment process begins.
7:40 a.m. – A teacher walks in and asks where the check request vouchers are. Secretary tells her what file cabinet and what drawer.
7:41 a.m. – Parent brings secretary a new prescription for her child who has been home with strep throat. She registers the medication in the meds notebook and locks the medication up in the nurse's office and goes back to enrolling the new student.
7:45 a.m. – Parent comes to tell secretary to add Mr. & Mrs. So & So to her daughter's card because she will be out of town for two weeks. The So & So's will be picking her up until next Friday, then the neighbor who is already listed on the card will pick her up Friday, Monday, Tuesday, and they should be back Wednesday, but if they aren't just have her ride the bus home with Susie So & So because they are all really good friends. She assures the secretary that the So & So's won't mind having her again.
7:50 a.m. – Student #1 comes in and asks if he can call home because he left his lunch on the kitchen table. Secretary helps make the call and goes back to enrolling the new student. Student #2 comes in and asks the secretary if she can call her mom. She says, “I need to tell my mom that my Pecos Bill Program is today – not tomorrow and I need my costume. Secretary goes back to enrolling the new student. Student #3 comes in and wants to call his mom because he forgot he has UIL practice after school today. Parents of new student take the rest of the packet with them to complete because they don't have all the necessary paperwork to enroll the student today. Student #4 comes in and says, “Would you please call my grandma for me because my UIL practice has been cancelled today?”
8:00 a.m. – Student comes in with a bloody tooth that he just pulled, and he is so excited he just blurts out “I need a tooth necklace! I just pulled my tooth.”
The first bell rings as she gives him a tooth necklace for his tooth.
Folks, school hasn't even started yet!
8:05 a.m. – Principal begins morning announcements when several
students come into the office tardy, and she tries to quiet them because Homecoming royalty they are heard throughout the school on the intercom.
8:15 a.m. – First class goes to P.E. 8 : 3 0 a . m – Two students come in from P.E. holding different parts of their bodies. Secretary asks what happened, and they say they ran into each other playing Pirate's Treasure. She gets ice for both and assesses the damage and determines if the parents need to be called. Damage not too bad so they skip back to P.E. with their ice pack “trophy”, and she goes back to her desk. Ice packs cure almost everything in elementary.
8:45 a.m. – Parent comes in to withdraw a student. Secretary scrambles to begin the withdrawal process – clear with teachers for grades, library, cafeteria, et cetera.
9:00 a.m. – Student comes in and asks the secretary to call her mom – she left her glasses on the bathroom cabinet.
9:15 a.m. – Student comes in and immediately starts telling the secretary about her evening of diarrhea and that it just could happen at school again. This time the secretary just points towards the nurse's office and says, “This is a nurse issue – please go see the nurse.” Nurse isn't in, so the student comes back and gets to finish the story anyway. She asks all the right questions like, have you had any more problems this morning? Student replies, “No, but I might.” Secretary tells her that if her tummy starts to feel bad to come back and she will call her mom. She politely sends the student back to class. Secretary and principal giggle a little – just a little.
Do you understand that it is just now 9:15 in the morning?
I realize that this isn't a story about the holiday season and giving, but it is a story about school secretaries and the kind of giving they do every day for our children. Now I know why someone came up with a day to honor secretaries. Thanks, Kathy, for everything you do for our students, teachers, and me.
Parents and community, please join us on Dec. 22, for our annual Writer's Tea in each classroom beginning at 8:30 a.m. Next we will move to the gymnasium at 9:45 for a holiday singa long with all grades. The students love sharing their musical talents. The students will be released at 1 p.m. to begin the holiday break.
Sylvia Buttler is principal at H.G. Olsen Elementary School.