A Quick Explanation

To those of you who may come here and find that I haven't posted in such a long time let me explain why I've allowed this blog to go dormant.

It's not that working in a school hasn't continued to provide me with topics to write about.  No, I think when you have people and so many personalities involved there could be any number of anecdotal events to write about.  

What has happened is the adoption of a "social media" policy in our district earlier this school year that, if I continued to relate my stories to you, using no identifiers or not, could result in disciplinary action.

So I have hopefully removed any personal identifiers from this blog but I'm sure that, knowing the vastness of the internet and what is held out there indefinitely, there might be something that would connect me with my job.  (Did you ever try googling your name?  Don't be surprised what you might find out there.)  If for some reason someone would question anything that I have published here, I think that I could be free of the repercussions of anything prior to the acceptance of the policy.  

Let me say that blogs as educational tools are not banned.  Considering that some of the administrators in our district and the district where we send our high school students have blogs themselves would be an example of that.  But this blog deals with situations and again, even though I have never mentioned the name of my school or any person by their real name, this could be construed as a violation of the policy.

Thank you for coming and visiting with me.  I hope that you have found some humor at times.  I've never meant for this to be a place to "bitch" about work though it may have seemed that way to some.  It was meant to be more of an observation on human nature and that in itself conjures up feelings of anxiety, frustration, humor, sadness, concern, disbelief - well, however you characterize it.

You know people can be real characters.

Friday, September 14 - Donut Deliveries

I had a teacher actually behind the counter with me this morning because I was showing her something on my computer screen when a parent walked in carrying a Dunkin' Donuts bag.

Said parent plopped the bag down on the counter and warned me "Don't even think of taking one of these because there's just enough for the class."

I calmly started to say .... "no, we don't normally...."

She interrupted with "No.  Seriously. My other child wanted one and I told her she could not have one."  She then scrunched up the top of the bag.

I quickly asked her if the teacher was aware that donuts were coming in and if the child's name was on the bag and the answer to both was yes so she walked out.

I went back to trying to help the teacher beside me and saw that she was standing there dumbfounded.  She collected herself and told me that I should be offended and that that was rude. I told her that I'm not allowed to show that I'm offended but even though I don'd do Dunkin' Donuts I was.  

This little interlude became the topic of conversation in the faculty room at lunch time I was told.  Some found it quite funny.  Kind of an - OMG, you're kidding - in disbelief haha.  

The irony of it all was that about 20 minutes after the first donut delivery came the second.  This parent told me that there were three additional donuts in the box for the office staff because I had put her through to the teacher earlier in the morning so she could set up the delivery time.  

The even bigger irony was that there were indeed 5 additional donuts unclaimed in the first student's box as we found out when she was sent to the office by the teacher to offer us one at the end of the day.  

Not even tempted.  

Friday, September 7 - New Food Wake Up

Our school cafeteria has updated their menu.  One of the new daily choices is a boxed meal that consists of celery and carrot sticks, grapes, chunks of cheese, hummus and crackers.  I was offered one of these to try today and saved it for this evening.

As I was eating it I was reminded of when my daughter was young - I think in the second or third grade - and she loved the move Aladdin and could recite parts of the dialog by heart.   We happened to be on a bus trip with my mother and sister to New York to see Cinderella on Broadway and she was entertaining us with her recitations.

There is a part she rattled off that had us in stitches and she couldn't understand why.

In the scene she was reciting, Robin Williams as the Genie says "wake up and smell the hummus".  Well not knowing what hummus was, she was saying "wake up and smell the homeless."

Makes me smile every time I eat hummus to this day!

Friday, June 29 - Graduation Cupcake

During the last two week's of school there were so many class parties/picnics that it was very hard to keep track.  It was also very hard to keep track of what I was snacking on.  There were all kinds of treats that passed through the office and when there was enough, some of them came back up to the office.  We had cupcakes, brownies, ice cream, Rita's ice, donuts.  I did not partake of all of them, but there were some that were just too good to resist.  Take for instance this cupcake made by a mom of a 5th grader. 

We don't actually have a fifth grade graduation but they do move on to another school so this mom decided they should have graduation caps.  She also related, and I can attest to this myself, that those foil cupcake liners are dangerous when they're fresh out of the oven.  Ouch.  Best be quick about it.

We also got a large tray of the soft pretzel rods and a wonderful edible fruit arrangement and several different kinds of candies.  

Yes, it certainly was a yummy couple of weeks inded!

Friday, June 22 - TGTYO

Thank God This Year's Over.

It has been rough.  Rough in so many ways.  Right down to the last official school day which was Wednesday. 

At the beginning of the year I thought that I could look at myself as the glue that held things together being the   one in the office, besides the principal, that was familiar with the workings of our building.  We had merged two schools which meant merging two staffs and two areas of our community.  Now, the children had been together before in the Pre-K-2 school but the staff was at odds being that we were considered "sister schools" while theirs was still open having the same grade levels (3-5) and there was always an underlying current of, shall we call it "competition".  

With the closing of their school came a realignment of the grades.  The lower school became Pre-K to 3rd and we housed all the 4th and 5th graders.  One would think that with only two grade levels that things would go smoothly.  Not so much.

And to top it off, for me at least, there was a change in our office staff and they moved the secretary from the Pre-K-2 school to our office and our secretary to the administrative offices.  No one was really happy about that move.  

I know that  all sounds confusing and if you followed it, good for you.   It was much more of a challenge than we all expected I think.

After a few weeks, or maybe it was only days, I felt that the glue was really being strained and thought that being a rubberband, which has more flexibility, would be a better thought.  So I stretched myself and tried to accommodate to the ever increasing demands of the job.  But it seemed that the rubberband had to become bigger and bigger and bigger to make those accommodations.  All the while it was growing though, it was also reaching it's point of snapping.  

Even with detailed explanations and a deep summoning of patience on a daily basis there were just those that did not grasp the fact that they were being absorbed into another culture and that pointing out that they had never done something or done it "that way" before was getting old.  

I told myself mid-year that it was time to lower my expectations.   It wasn't going to take a few months, it would take a full year of going through all the processes and events that usually transpire during the school year.  

But I wondered nonetheless, at why in the classroom, the teachers expected their students to acclimate to their way of doing things within a short amount of time, yet they were digging their heels in as to how our daily routine transpired.   

Should I need to remind you in November, January and March that attendance has to be done by 9:00?  Should I have to remind you in December, February and April that it would be nice to let me know if a parent has let you know that a student is on vacation so I don't try calling them at home, or interrupting your class?  Should I have to send e-mails reminding you that if you use the last of something in the supply room you need to let me know so I can reorder before the next person "really needs" something?  And I know it all sounds like little stuff, but it builds and builds and builds and just like the rubberband you snap or you snap at someone and that's never a good thing.

So right about the time of Spring Break, during which I used some of my vacation days, I came to the conclusion that not only did I need to lower my expectations, but I needed to lower my standards too.  

I was seeing, all around me, people who were basically not putting the effort into making things go smoothly - and getting away with it - and I thought I should do the same.  But it's hard to lower your standards.  Even if your boss tells you that you "shouldn't expect people to do their job as good as you do yours"!  Is that what it's come to?  

So, did I leave every day at 3:30 like I'm supposed to?  No.  There were days when I stayed later or came in earlier to get something done that just wasn't going to happen during regular working hours with all the interruptions.  

Did I turn away the students and the teachers who needed my assistance with something when I was right in the middle of my own work?  No.

Did I get frustrated and voice my opinion sometimes maybe a bit too conspicuously - you bet your ass I did. And what did that accomplish?  Nothing.  It only made me realize that the rubberband stretches only so far and that if I was going to hold anything together it would be with humble twine and the ends would definitely be frazzled.  

I think that maybe this summer I will take that rubberband and make it into a sling shot and when someone tells me in September, as I know they will, that "that's not the way we used to do it", I will pick up the sling shot and one of the marbles that I will have surely lost from hearing that statement again, and bean them right between the eyes.  

Just kidding.  But maybe I'll hand them a rubberband and tell them that it's time that they learned to be more flexible.  I've got the whole summer without staff around to contemplate that.

Friday, June 1 - Old Words?

Recently I had to write down an account of a situation that happened in our office.  I can't go into details about it, but I was questioned by two people (younger than me) who read my account concerning my use of the word "fetch".  

I said:  So-and-so went to fetch so-and-so.  

After the second person questioned me on my use of the word “fetch”, I felt I needed to explain that I didn't mean it derogatorily, and added that I am old and I use words like that.  

I asked my husband and my daughter if they thought that it was strange to use that word and they both said no. Of course they could just be trying to get me to stop worrying about it.

Then I saw this as I was trying to pin something on Pinterest – 

And tonight I noticed that I-Phone, of which I have one, under Settings says “Fetch New Data”. (Not a picture of my phone)

Guess I’m not as antiquated as I thought.

Friday, May 25 - Will It Count?

We had our Memorial Day program at school today.  It's a day that is filled with activities and assemblies for the students to learn about the significance and to commemorate Memorial Day.  The students do patriotic themed crafts, participate in a sing-a-long, go to gym boot camp, package treats to send to our servicemen, visit a museum of armed services paraphernalia donated by members of the community for this day, and more.  It's an educational as well as fun event that begins with an opening flag ceremony, very brief "words" from local and state dignitaries that have been invited to attend, and the band and the chorus perform one selection each.

On the answering machine this morning.....

"Hello.  My son said that today was going to be a fun day at school and he didn't want to participate.  If I let him stay home, will it count as an absence since it's going to be a fun day?  Here is my number.  If I don't hear back from you I'll know it's okay to keep him home."

God Bless America!

Friday, May 18 - What Happens When a Student Forgets Their Sneakers?

1.  They tell the teacher that they've forgotten their sneakers.

2.  They come to the office to ask to use the phone.

3.  Six out of 10 students will need to have their phone number looked up because they don't know it.

4.  Five out of 10 students will have to have assistance using the phone because they only know cell phones and cordless phones and do not know how to use a push button with curly cord.  And............. they do not know not to dial 8, or 908, etc.

5.  Three out of 10 students will have to call again because they didn't follow instructions and leave a message the first time, which will result in a parent frantically calling the office wanting to know who from the school called and the office having to make numerous calls to .... you get the picture there I'm sure.

6.  The parent will arrive with the sneakers, usually not in a bag,  and attempt to place them on the counter, whereby they will be instructed to put them on the floor under the chair across the room, and look at us bewildered that we should make such a request (doesn't everyone put shoes on their counter?).

7.  The classroom will be called with the information that the sneakers have been delivered for so-and-so and 9 out of 10 times the student will come to get them.

8.  The 1 out of 10 student who forgot to come to the office to get their sneakers will not have sneakers for their after school activity and the office staff will be reprimanded for not delivering the sneakers by the parent that took time from their job to bring the sneakers to the school when their distraught child called.

It's the middle of May - we had five students in one day last week and three already this morning that have needed to call for "sneakers."  Not to mention the ones that forgot their projects, lunches, etc.  (We do not allow them to call for instruments, however, there are some teachers that allow the students to call from the classroom which totally defeats the purpose of not interrupting the office staff as each one of the deliveries warrants a doorbell being answered and a phone call being made to the classroom.)

My conclusion - there are little or no consequences for the student who forgets their sneakers and many for the office staff.  

I raised two children - they are 29 and 31 and have no ill effects from forgetting things and not having them delivered to school.  They may have had to sit out a gym class, sat on the bench during recess or were sent to work room.  They might have even been marked down a grade, depending upon the grade and the teacher.  BUT, they are more responsible for having borne the consequences of their forgetfulness themselves.

So please reconsider letting your students call home for whatever it is that they have forgotten - unless it's lunch, we don't want them to go hungry.

You may think that it's only one interruption but it never is.

(e-mail to staff)

Friday, May 4th - Not Quite an Oxymoron

A call to the office this week from one of our classroom teachers:

"Can you tell the custodian that our heat is cold."

Friday, April 27 - Fat Friday

We put a sign-up sheet out at the beginning of the school year.  The object is to find a friend or two and you pick a Friday to bring in treats for the staff who participate in what we call Fat Friday.  Usually there will be a couple dozen bagels with cream cheese and butter, some pastries, fruit, sometimes a vegie tray, cheese and crackers - basically finger foods that you might put out if you were have a brunch buffet.

Some people pick certain days so they can have a theme for their treats - holidays, super bowl, etc.  If there is a week when no one signs up, it's a free for all with everybody pitching in with something, whether it is a box of donuts, or a container of juice, or maybe those canned nuts that Aunt Genevieve always gets you for Christmas but you don't particularly care for.  Get the gist?

Well, today it was "our" turn.  The office staff (including the principal who was out but who subsidized his part with his wallet ahead of time) and the custodian all teamed up and since it was Arbor Day, we decorated the table in the faculty room with some gardening items from the $ store, used flower pots for utensils and food containers, etc.

We had a very nice spread with fruit, cakes, brownies, chips and salsa, candy, quiches, bagels, and cheese and crackers.  Everyone enjoyed it and so did I up until it was time to clean up.

No, I'm not going to bitch about having to clean up, what I'm going to say is that I went into a mild panic when the very sharp serrated knife I had brought from home to use to cut up the quiches and cake was missing near the end of the day.

Very.Sharp.Knife.Missing..............check the garbage............check my bags...............check the drawers...........did I bring it with me?...........check my cooler...............yes, I remember washing it just before lunch and putting it on the counter next to the sink to dry with some empty containers...............check the refrigerator..............check my bags again..................maybe I should call home and see if I left it there............check the garbage again..............no, I know it was there because I used it to cut the quiches...............check the cooler again.................check under the tables in the faculty room...........send out an e-mail to the staff.............. maybe someone borrowed it...................but why would they need to take it out of the room..............what if a student went in there and took it out of their room.................oh dear, they're going to be leaving soon and someone has the knife......................no one is answering the e-mail.............. yikes, should we be in lock down until we find it?.....................too late, the buses have left..................no one is answering the e-mail...................OMG suppose a student has it and pulls it out of his/her backpack on the bus............... my mind is racing, the phones still ring, the doorbell still rings, someone's parents forget to pick them up and they need to use the phone.............people are asking if the knife was found...............I have to answer no...............I'm realizing that I'm numb..........the world is going by but all I can do is worry about where that knife is and if someone will get hurt.............I text the boss - call me..................will he answer?........tick, tick, tick................he calls my cell............. I take the call in his office............something happened and I'm not comfortable with it.........................he's calm...................reassuring...............there's a knock on the door.....................the secretary tells me the knife was found.............someone took it to their room to cut a pizza and forgot to bring it back to the faculty room...............I tell the boss..............he's not quite getting that I wasn't afraid of getting in trouble for bringing a knife to school..............I was afraid of it getting into the wrong hands and someone getting hurt............I explain...................okay, he says relax.............I'll try..........I'll breathe easier now..............yes, you have a good weekend too...........

It's plastic knives from now on for me.

Friday, April 20th - A Pictorial View

A student found this and thought it should "go to" the Lost and Found.  I told him I didn't think it could find it's way to the Lost and Found because it's head was missing.  He didn't laugh and I didn't ask him what happened to the head. 

Like most schools, we have some children with unusual names.  It's nice this student's initials spell ED so the parents don't have to call him Early.


This I-phone belongs to a 4th grader.  Someone found it in the grass ouside the school.  Thank goodness for the heavily encrusted jeweled case - it had rained overnight and it still works!  Oh, and she was very glad to show me how to use the camera on my phone as I had not yet tried that.  AND she told me where I could find some good deals on-line on all kinds of cell phone accessories. 

Friday, April 13 - Does That Say It All?

Friday the 13th comes along with as much superstition attached to it as does the monthly full moon.  Of course, any given day can have as much high jinxs as the next, but it's nice to have something to blame it on.

There's a look that passes between us when the students start piling up in the "waiting area" or when the principal comes out of the office with a list of students to be called to the office.  It's not an eyeroll, but you know it when you see it.  "Must be the full moon" is implied.  You don't even have to say it.

Of course anything wacky that happens, like some kind of equipment breaking, or someone's tire going flat in the parking lot can be attributed to Friday the 13th.  Thankfully, there's only one or two of them in a year.

Well, this month both the full moon and Friday the 13th fell on days when school was not in session due to the spring break.

Just as well.

However, I am not looking forward to returning to work on Monday to see what the gremlins have done while we were away!

Friday, April 6 - Read This and Take Note

Well, I'd love you to read my posts, but this is something I'd like to have a sign made of for my desk:

"Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency for me"

I'd especially like those who are receiving an extra stipend for the activity that they're doing to take note.

This would be the teachers who are in charge of the science fair, the school play, the music concerts, etc.

They all get a stipend for their "extra" work and the time that they have to put in to these events.  However, there is no stipend for the office staff who also have "extra" work during these events.

We make copies, order materials, answer numerous phone calls with questions about the event, and the doorbell to accommodate visitors during these events.  We schedule the room, arrange for the set-up, find coverage for you when needed.  All this during our regular working hours when the normal routine of the day is in full force.

And, we do not receive one extra penny.

I'd like to say - don't come to me the day before your event and tell me that you need masking tape to hang your posters and there's none in the supply room.  Or that you need to order supplies to make the scenery for the play and you need it preferably yesterday, so the purchase order needs to be done asap and faxed...... etc.

Instead we are expected to fit the emergency into our schedule.  And they get paid extra for their time.

Friday, March 30 - Things I Haven't Yet Mastered

I haven't yet mastered how to thank someone for making more work for me.

I'm not an ungrateful person.  I believe in manners.  I say please and thank you all day long and even remind the children to do so when they come to me for something.

I also believe that it's my job to try to make things easier for others.

I just haven't mastered how to say thank you to people who don't follow the directions they were given because they think that they are helping you out by doing something their way instead of the way that was asked.

But, I was told I should have said thank you to the person who made changes to a few student documents and printed them out themselves to save me work, yet couldn't tell me who they belonged to thus causing me to have to print out the whole class again for the permanent record.

Yes, thank you for your help.

Is it possible to sew your tongue back on after you've bitten it off?

Friday, March 16 - A Little Information Goes a Long Way

Imagine a person walking into a bank and going right up to the teller and just proclaiming "I want to take my money out."  That's it.  That's all that's said.

It's not likely that the clerk will be handing anything over to this person without some pertinent information.

We have 400 students in our school, which roughly means there are close to 800 parents.  So now imagine that a parent walks into the school and comes right up to my counter and says "I'm here to take my son/daughter to the doctor/dentist/etc."  And then they rock back on their heels and just look at me, thus creating a very awkward silence.

Now I will admit that sometimes I see whose coming to the door and before they even get into the office I'm calling for the student.  However, it always cracks me up when a parent that I've never seen before walks in and expects me to know who they are and who their child is.   That awkward silence needs to be broken.

"And who is your child?"  or "And that would be?" or just "Yes............?"

Where is my crystal ball when I need it?

Friday, March 9 - You Have Reached

I had the task of calling home for a student who was absent and whose parents had not reported the absence on the absence line today. 

I dialed the number and this is what I heard -

"You have reached and answering machine.  Please call back."

Friday, March 2 - Who's Late?

School starts at 8:30.  Well, the first bell rings at 8:30 and the students huff it in off the bus.  By the second bell at 8:35 they're all supposed to be in their homerooms, or in the case of our 5th graders, at their lockers.  The front doors are closed and inevitably within the next minute the doorbell will ring.

Parent:  (approaching my counter with his daughter in tow) She's not late is she?

Me:  Yes sir, when the second bell rings the student is late.

Parent:  Oh, was that the second bell?

Me:  Yes.

Parent:  Well, she's not late really.  We were working on her homework project from last night and lost track of the time.  So she's not really late.

Me:  Sweetie, who is your homeroom teacher.

Student:  Mrs. So-and-So.

Me:  Here's your late pass.

Friday, February 17

When I get the time - sometime soon I hope - I will talk about why I haven't been here on Friday CPR for a while.  Right now though, I'm thinking that I need to find the humor again, so here goes.....

Valentine's Day!  Everyone wears red.  The students bring in Valentine cards for their classmates.  The parents bring in treats for the students and every now and then a truck will pull up in front of the school with a delivery.

Ah, it's the UPS guy again.  What's he got today?  Could it be the file folders that are on backorder or the pencil sharpeners?  It might be a Scholastic book order, but it's not a Scholastic box.  You always know when it's a book order by the box.

So when the UPS man delivers a box that says 1-800-FLOWERS on the box, the last thing I expected to be asked when I entered the faculty room was "Are there flowers in there?"!

No.  Hamsters.