Thursday, May 20, 2010

An Ode to Secretaries

With the end of the year approaching, everyone is counting the days until summer vacation begins. With less than a week to go, even someone like me is simply out of fuel and looking to wrap things up. And with wrapping things up means that teachers assume their duty as accountants as they categorize and label everything in sight in preparation for school to go into its annual hibernation. At the centre of this operation is our school secretary, for whom this is just another series of checklists in a lifetime of checklists and forms. When you think about it, a school secretary has its own niche in the school ecosystem. They're not teachers or administrators, but without them the school grinds to a halt.

So today I was doing my Obsessive-Compulsive best to finish up my textbook count to turn in to our secretary. My back bookshelf had all of my textbooks catalogued into my own little system, and I was sitting in the dark (My not-so-subtle hint to people to leave me alone when I'm in my planning period) writing down the names and addresses of the students who did not turn in their books, as well as the names of the students who damaged class copies of my textbooks. Because the sheets were due at the end of school, I felt particularly hurried, and rushed to the office to turn it in. When I did, the secretary was obviously unamused by events happening, but commented that I was the only teacher to do my bureaucratic duty thus far.

When I plopped back into my chair in my dark classroom, I began thinking about our secretary and the rather fantastic job she does. At a school I used to teach at, our secretary frankly was not very good and it showed. Everything was a mess and even simple things got screwed up when it came across her desk. She was unmistakeably kind and friendly, but if I learned anything in my first year teaching, it was that I should become as self-sufficient as possible because relying on the secretary was a crap shoot.

Fortunately, our secretary is about on the opposite end of that spectrum as one can get. It still doesn't stop me from being as self-sufficient as possible, mainly because I don't like imposing on other people. I could go on about how secretarialy our secretary goes about her job, but that would bore you like counting paper clips. Instead, I'll just say that her sense of humour is simply outstanding, and to see her just shrug her shoulders at some bureaucratic nonsense and let loose a macabre one-liner always makes me grin, as well as how she is able to sweet-talk a central office employee on the phone, and immediately put one of our seedier students or parents in their place with a glare or statement without a blink of the eye.

I know it's a bit late to talk about how awesome secretaries are considering the day for that was a month ago, but with the school year winding down, I couldn't let the school year end without complimenting our chief paper pusher/receptionist/impromptu nurse/greeter/disciplinarian of students we don't have time to deal with. Oh, and for my colleagues who haven't turned in their textbook lists, please do so lest she comes to your classroom and demand it herself. You've been warned. ;^)

Until next time.

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