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School Support Staff: You Deserve So Much More Recognition For All You Do


School Support Staff: You Deserve So Much More Recognition for All You Do

As a teacher, there is NO WAY I could do my job effectively without the hard-working school support staff toiling away without nearly enough recognition. This is especially true as we navigate the new normal of pandemic teaching. Teachers at least got to bask in adulation for a few weeks at the beginning of the pandemic… but these unsung heroes? Nothing. Secretaries, custodians, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and other school support staff: it’s your turn to have the light focused on you. On behalf of teachers everywhere, thank you for all you do.

School Secretaries

Secretaries, you’re the heart and soul of any school. Like an octopus, your hands swing effortlessly in all directions, controlling the door buzzer which chimes constantly, answering the phone, applying band-aids, managing mountains of forms, calling parents, and fixing the photocopier each time it breaks (which is approximately every 2.5 minutes). You see all, hear all, know all. The pandemic has nothing on you. You can spot COVID symptoms a mile away and get on the phone with parents instantly. And now your job includes organizing and delivering PPE packages for staff as well as handing out masks in the morning to the multiple children who forget theirs. We know you hide your superhero cape under the sweater you wear because the office air conditioning always runs too cold. But it’s there.

Custodians

Parents all know what it’s like to clean the house, let the kids in, and witness the destruction of hours of effort within minutes. Custodians, you know this pain every. single. day. Times 400. Get up early to start work at the crack of dawn. Clear away snow or debris from the steps. Sweep, polish, clean every ounce of floor, desks, even walls. Watch as hundreds of children stampede in without wiping their shoes to undo your work. Clean, wipe, spray, sweep, sanitize. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Not to mention fixing anything broken, adjusting clocks, reaching high stuff on ladders, and hauling garbage and recycling. And now your workload is even heavier with increased cleaning and sanitizing due to the pandemic. And yet you still have time to console upset children and listen to kindergarteners proudly read sight words. There needs to be a crown that fits on top of your face shield.

Paraprofessionals

This pandemic has been hard on children. Their lives have been disrupted in countless ways – loss of peers and teachers, loss of favorite activities, loss of professional support for educational or behavioral needs, more indoor time than ever before, stressed parents, food insecurity, and sometimes nowhere safe to go. And it’s you, the paraprofessionals, who have been picking up the pieces. You’re dedicated to helping students navigate the mental health challenges and educational deficits that the pandemic has exacerbated in students. You attempt to communicate compassion with only your eyes while wearing full PPE. Fictional superheroes wear masks as disguises, but you wear yours with pride.

Cafeteria Workers

School cafeteria food soothes hungry bellies and provides peace to worried minds. Learning can’t happen when bellies are grumbling. Often, school breakfast and lunch are the only square meals a day our food-insecure students get. Cafeteria workers, you spend hours a day in a room full of unmasked children in order to support the most fundamental of childhood needs. And you keep them six feet apart too!

Bus Drivers

Finally, we cannot forget the bus drivers. You have voluntarily chosen to spend your days driving a small, closed, poorly ventilated vehicle, with multiple laughing, shouting children crammed in who may or may not be properly masked, just so these kids can have access to all of the other educational superheroes mentioned above. You expertly navigate the twisting roads of neighborhoods, or winding country lanes, all while peering through cheap face shields, playing upbeat music, and keeping it down to a dull roar in the back. Where would we be without you champions of transportation? Hood ornaments need to become a thing on buses – a trophy for your dedication.

Teachers simply couldn’t function without our wonderful school support staff. Thank you ALL for everything you do.

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Anne Lefebvre

Veteran Member

I grew up in the city but now call small-town Ontario, Canada home, along with my husband and two teenage boys. I’m a passionate elementary school educator, but when I’m not at school you can find me playing a sport, reading, or drinking a cup of tea.

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