It takes a lot of good people to make a good school -- a lot of good people, working together.
When you think of your child's education, the first person who comes to mind is most likely the teacher. But it's helpful for you to know everyone who is important to your school and to your child's education. If you make an effort to meet and get to know them, you'll learn about the important jobs done by each member of the school team and also open up lines of communication that can help you and your child.
Of course, this brief information could never fully describe all of the things these people do. Also, different school districts are staffed differently, so some schools may not employ the people described here while others may include staff whose jobs aren't covered here.
In general, these are some of the educational support professionals at your school and a sampling of the jobs they do.
Spend some time in a school office on an average day and you'll understand why school secretaries are so important. They perform all the work done by secretaries in most businesses, but school secretaries also do a lot of other jobs that nobody else in the school does.
They're the people to whom everyone comes for information - students with all kinds of questions, parents who phone the school, teachers checking records, and visitors to the school who sign in at the office.
School secretaries also prepare correspondence and tests, keep attendance records in balance, register new students, and sometimes keep track of the school's budget. In addition, they help find lost books or lunch money, assist a child who's missed the bus, and hundreds of other "little" things that help children and other school staff throughout the day.
Custodians and Maintenance Staff
The custodian keeps the school running. Just operating the boilers that heat the schools is a big job requiring special training and a state license. Custodians also keep the school and surrounding grounds clean and safe.
The school maintenance staff repairs everything from the floor to the roof of the school - including the broken oven in the cafeteria kitchen so your children can have hot lunches and the stuck window in your child's classroom so it's comfortable on a warm spring day. Maintenance staff also often handle the remodeling of classrooms or other areas so the school can be used more efficiently.
These are the people responsible for taking your children to and from school, and on field trips - safely. In some school districts, each driver transports as many as 400 children per day! That means knowing the children well so that everyone is safe and well-behaved. School bus drivers must also have special training and a commercial drivers license, and are also required to pass a physical every two years.
What does a bus driver do when he or she is not driving? School bus drivers are also responsible for the safety and cleanliness of the buses. They make necessary safety checks and keep the buses ship-shape. Occasionally, bus drivers will also do courier work, delivering messages or materials within the school system. Also, in larger districts, transportation staff may include people who repair the buses and coordinate bus routes for maximum efficiency.
Food Service Staff
Some schools serve as many breakfasts and lunches as the local fast food restaurant. Each day, school food service staff prepare and serve hot, nutritious meals to thousands of children.
The word "paraprofessional" can describe one of many important people in a school who perform many important jobs: teaching assistants who work with teachers to allow for more individual attention with students; library or media center assistants who keep books and equipment in order and help children find what they need; and other staff who help supervise children in the cafeteria, on the playground, or on the bus.
If there's an important job in the school that needs some help, the paraprofessionals do it.
And that's just the beginning
A good school includes all of these people - and others - who work as a team to keep things running efficiently and children learning better.
Your school team might also include security staff, who work to reduce the costs of vandalism, remove any threat of violence, or simply ensure the safety of children walking to and from school, and attendance officers, who ensure children attend school regularly.
In addition, there are many other teaching staff - besides the classroom teachers - who provide essential services to children:
- The school nurse, who helps when children are sick or injured, and also teaches and counsels students in many ways.
- The school librarian or media specialist, who not only helps instill a love of reading and teaches research skills, but may also introduce students to computers and the internet.
- The school counselor, who guides students and parents in making important decisions.
- The child study team staff, who evaluate children who may have disabilities, and the special education staff who provide appropriate programs and services.
And, of course, every school has a principal whose job it is to serve as the instructional leader, as well as to help all of these people work together to provide the best possible education for your children.
Many members of the school team are mentioned here, but surely some have been left out who deserve to be mentioned. The point is, your children's education does not begin and end in the classroom. That's certainly the focal point, but it takes the whole school family to provide your child a quality education.
School staff and families...the more we work together, the more we'll help our children.
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