BY LINDA HOWARD, MIDDLE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
If you’ve ever seen the movie UP, then you know how short the attention span of a dog can be. Fitted with an electronic collar that voices the thoughts of the dog, just about every other sentence is interjected with the dog calling “Squirrel” because the dog has been interrupted again. The excitement of life behind the desk in the middle school front office is very much like this scene, repeating itself over and over again every day.
Hum drum days? Not here
I am happy to come to work each day and begin with checking my voicemail messages, answering the phone, signing in the late students, and doing the attendance. Quite frequently, before I can complete a task I’ve begun, my attention is needed elsewhere and usually in three different directions at once:
“Mrs. Howard, can I please have an ice pack?”
“Mrs. Howard, can I please get change for this $5?”
“Mrs. Howard, can I please call my mom?”
“Mrs. Howard, can I please have a band-aid?”
“Mrs. Howard, can I please buy a pizza card?”
Scampering To and Fro
Every day I strive to work diligently to get through my various administrative duties as well as attempt to get through the stack of paperwork sitting on my desk. You just never know what a day in middle school is going to bring! Many days I leave my office with the exact same stack of paperwork on my desk—completely untouched.
I am sitting peacefully at my desk after the students have settled back into class after the lunch break. Finally, I can begin typing the email to our grade 8 parents about the upcoming course selection evening. SQUIRREL! The phone rings and I will have to give a student the message to NOT take the bus home today. SQUIRREL! On my way to deliver the message, a parent comes in to pick up her daughter for an orthodontic appointment and I will have to get her out of class. SQUIRREL! A student informs me that the faucet in the upstairs girls’ bathroom will not shut off. SQUIRREL! A student in PE class was just hit in the face with a dodge ball and needs an ice pack. SQUIRREL! One of the teachers sent a student down to make 25 copies of the latest math work sheet.
There are so many squirrels running through my office at times, it feels more like a forest than a school. But squirrels are not the only things on the move in my office.
The broad range of tasks and activities that happen—sometimes ALL AT THE SAME TIME—on this campus have me juggling so much that there are times when I can’t even keep all the balls in the air. I have just recently concluded that it would be a lot more fun to just let some of those balls drop, and start kicking them around instead.
So the next time I neglect to respond to your email, or forget to pass on a message to your son or daughter, please know that…SQUIRREL!