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Career Story: School Record Keeper

School Record Keeper

Job Title: Guidance Secretary

Type of Company: I work for a local school district in a suburb of Boston

Education: Kenneth School of Design

Previous Experience: I worked in the school office as a volunteer.

Job Tasks: My primary task is to take care of and maintain student records. Some of these are permanent and some are temporary. Included in the permanent record is the student's registration packet; parents fill these out whenever they enroll a child at school. Also included in the permanent record is a language questionnaire, which lets us know whether mailings to a student's home should be in some other language than English. Report cards go into this folder as well. Temporary records (sometimes call "guidance records") include results of any testing that students may have undergone: kindergarten testing, MCAS and the like, and may include math and reading work samples.

When parents come to register a student, I welcome them into my office and give them a summary of the events that lend interest to the run of school life. I also give them a copy of "News and Views," the student paper. Sandwich-making is one popular after-school pastime: students make peanut butter & jelly, baloney, and ham and cheese sandwiches for the homeless. Intramural sports, including kickball, fitness and tennis, are other after-school activities. After the parents have filled out the registration paperwork, I normally give them a tour of the school.

The busiest time of year for me comes at MCAS testing (statewide assessment tests in Massachusetts). Once the MCAS packets arrive, we have to count every item and account for every student. (There are currently we have 630.) I place the MCAS sticker on the test booklets that the students will use. These booklets can never be left unattended. Teachers come to my office to pick up their testing materials and then call me to pick up the booklets once they're finished. I have count the booklets again when I pick them up to make sure they're all there. Eventually we pack them in boxes and mail them. When the test results come back, I mail them to the parents and place a copy in every student's temporary folder. A sticker with the test results is placed on the back of the student's guidance folder.

I also do the school attendance. I print out attendance sheets for each classroom teacher each week. The teachers mark the students absent, then send the sheets to me every day. I then put them into my computer and do a report of who's absent. We have a call-in policy; if a student is absent and a parent fails to call, I'm required to call his house.

At the end of the year I make awards for Perfect Attendance, Sandwich Making, Student Council, News and Views. We have an assembly on the last day of school and awards are given out to the students who have earned them.

Once school is out for the year I have to provide state reports. These include student rosters, "free and reduced lunch" and "limited English." I submit these reports to the Department of Education.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is getting to know the students. Every morning one or more of them will come into my office to drop off the attendance. That way I get to know all the students.

The worst part of my job is having parents call and ask if it's an early release day or, when it snows, are the students getting dismissed? We must get at least 50 or more calls.

Job Tips: Patience, patience, patience! Parents seem to ask the same question over and over. Some just won't bother to look up the information that was sent home. It is much easier to call the school and ask the secretary.. We send flyers home, then email; we make announcements and still they call and ask. They even call to ask the telephone number of another school.

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