While COVID-19 has radically changed the way schools operate, administrators like secretaries are still working hard to support both teachers and children every day.
A school secretary, in addition to answering phones and manning the front desk, is involved in many aspects of maintaining and running a successful school. From ordering supplies to accounting, they often fill in wherever they’re needed in the best of times and the worst of times.
Horse Lake Elementary’s secretary Helen Weston has been working with SD27 since 2016. Weston said she moved to the area because her husband is from here and has since fallen in love with the lakes, the quiet and the overall serenity of the area. She’s lived in the Bridge Lake area since 1997 and got into administration many years ago due to her twin loves of accounting and people.
“I tend to gravitate to positions where you get to deal with the public. In the case of the school, it was a bonus because I love dealing with kids,” Weston remarked with a laugh.
In addition to her usual day to day secretarial duties like attendance and make announcements Weston said she gives out bandaids to children with scraped knees, helps the principal out with whatever they may need, supports teachers as needed and keeps the staff up to date on what’s going on with their hours.
Since COVID-19 shut down the school, Weston said she’s been helping the teachers keep their students up to date on what’s going on and how best to adjust to online learning. She’s also been in charge of picking up packages and getting packages of school supplies/material together for the children to use.
Otherwise, Weston is doing her best to maintain social distancing and keep her workspace clean, ensuring she wipes down equipment after she uses them.
“We are missing our kids, it’s not the same being in the school with no little ones running around and hearing their happy giggles, or seeing their smiling faces, that’s so different,” Weston said.
She encourages everyone to keep doing what they’re doing during these trying times and listen to Dr. Bonnie Henry. If we keep social distancing, we’ll be able to flatten that curve, Weston said, and things will then get back to normal sooner rather then later.
At 100 Mile Elementary, meanwhile, the front desk is staffed by Sybille Vogel who has lived in 100 Mile for close to 24 years now and has worked for School District 27 for 11 years, seven of which were spent at 100 Mile Elementary.
“It’s fun working at the school because there are lots of different things you do, it’s not just an office job. You have contact with students and parents on top everything else,” Vogel said.
Her personal favourite part of the job, Vogel said, is the accounting as she has always been a numbers person. She also enjoys having a job that gives her at least two months off every year over the summer.
Much like Weston, Vogel said she’s more focused on supporting the educational efforts of students and teachers by making spreadsheets for what the students need to succeed. She’s also in charge of handing the learning materials out to parents when they come to pick them up.
Overall, she said the mood of the staff is positive and that their greatest challenge has been adjusting to the needs of individual children. Vogel said that she’s been helping students get set up for at-home learning with setting up programs and accounts for various online activities.
She’d like to remind parents that they can feel free to reach out to the school if they’re having trouble with their children’s education by calling 250-395-2258.