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Career Story: Administrative Assistant To A Parochial School Principal

Administrative Assistant To A Parochial School Principal

Job Title: Administrative Assistant To School Principal

Type of Company: I work in a private Catholic School in suburban Nashua, New Hampshire.

Education: High School Graduate

Previous Experience: I worked in retail sales, was a teacher's aide in a kindergarten and held a job as senior clerk at a utility company.

Job Tasks: In a small school setting, my job responsibilities can vary from day to day. A typical day begins with checking phone messages, taking calls from parents reporting their child absent, answering all sorts of questions regarding the school day. "What's for lunch today? What time is Mass? What time is the fifth grade 'program'?" etc. Schedules are sent home on a regular basis, but parents find it easier to call us than to read them and remember!

Next I do attendance reports and collect any forms, money, etc. that may be due. Lunch count has be reported to the school district and attendance to the school nurse.

After the busywork of the first few hours, I usually work on correspondence for the Principal, keeping school records updated, checking email messages from parents, answering phones and two doors. (For reasons of security, all doors are locked during school day.) I must identify anyone entering building and sign them in and issue a visitor or volunteer pass to them. Screening calls and visitors for the Principal and saving his valuable time is a priority.

Since we are a Catholic school, I am responsible for keeping in touch with the public school system re: busing, the school calendar and student testing for special ed. needs.

Throughout the day, I may be asked to make copies, run for a band-aid when the nurse cannot be found, investigate a broken toilet or sink if the janitor is unavailable. School administration is not a "sit-down" job. It requires running messages to teachers, checking mail, distributing various notices, forgotten lunches, homework, etc. to classrooms. But while it may sound mundane, working with K-8 students is very rewarding. I love my job.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is interacting with the students and (most) parents. The children are curious and amusing. Had I gone to college I would have been a teacher. There are very few days I don't learn something new from them or go home with a funny story about something that happened that day.

The worst part of my job would have to be dealing with difficult parents. Over the years I have noticed that parents feel their children are "entitled". Their children never do anything wrong. Fortunately, in a Catholic school difficult parents are few.

Job Tips: My job may not be one that a person would pursue. For me it began as a "mother's hours" job. But I grew to love it and have been here for 23 years. Of course computer skills are a must: word processing, Excel, etc. A pleasant personality and phone ability are very important. I am the first person a parent or prospective parent comes in contact with and I have to make a good impression.

Additional Thoughts: Beginning this job as a part-time, temporary position many years ago, the biggest surprise is how much I love my work and that I am still here.

I don't think I would change a thing about my approach to this career. As I mentioned, it began as a stop-gap but I have grown to really like it.

I'm told repeatedly that my personality and willingness to do anything possible to assist both staff and parents is my strong point. Many have said that I run the school and in some cases they may be right.

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