Yesterday the school secretary/office manager was out sick. Again. Calling off work is a weekly occurrence for her, but unfortunately this time the bookkeeper and receptionist had also requested the day off, too, leaving the front office and lobby very understaffed.
The Student Data Manager graciously offered to sit in the lobby all day to fill in for the receptionist, and I (less graciously, though only on the inside) offered to fill in for the secretary and run the front office. The principal thanked me several times, so that was nice.
And it was a day from hell, let me tell you. It started off with a teacher getting fired (and the police called!) over an unfortunate situation in the gym. This gentle giant of a teacher (almost seven feet tall, and big) was playfully roughhousing with some older boys. One of the boys (still playing around) removed his belt and swung it at the teacher. In response, the teacher pulled the boy into a playful headlock, which was fine, but when he let him go, the kid stumbled, fell down the bleachers, and got a gash over his left eye. The parents were furious and are planning on pressing charges. The teacher was sitting in the office most of the morning, tears running down his face, while periodically having to go give statements to the police and our district HR person. I felt so sorry for him. The boy wasn't badly hurt, and no one meant for that to happen, but to be fair the teacher had no business playing like that with students. Anyway, he didn't get arrested, thank goodness, but he did get fired on the spot.
The rest of the day was also chaos. Two big fights broke out and four more students will be getting expelled, making a total of 10 expulsion hearings I've had to schedule in just the last two weeks. Then at the very end of the day a kid waiting in the car line threw a cell phone at another boy's face. The boy that got hit in the face came running through the halls, sobbing, with blood streaming from his nose and mouth. What a way to cap off a Friday, huh?
I often say that there's never, ever a dull moment working in a middle school, but yesterday was a kind of extreme example. I jokingly said to the principal at some point that I had forgotten "how exciting" the front office can be! She responded that she was so grateful that I was the one up there taking care of everything, and how it made things easier for her. The secretary I was filling in for, while a nice woman, is young and immature for her age, has never had a job remotely like working in a school, and, if I'm being honest, has made very little effort to learn how to do anything. When faced with something she doesn't know how to do, she'll whine and complain and find someone else to help her do it, without bothering to pay attention so she'll know what to do next time. She was a poor choice for the position, and I'd be lying if I said I don't get a small bit of enjoyment watching the principal having to suck it up and deal with her after passing me over for the position last summer!
One of the last things the principal asked me to do yesterday was to draft a letter to parents of car riders who are chronically very late picking their children up, explaining the consequences of repeated late pick-ups. She was rushing to her office to take a phone call, and said, "Ms. Barlow, please compose a letter for me about this issue, bring me a copy to sign, and then make a few dozen copies on school letterhead." I said, sure, no problem, and had it done in less than 10 minutes. When she saw the finished product, she said, "This is fabulous. Thank you so much!" and since it was getting towards the end of the day I started to walk to my office to gather my things and go. She called for me as I was walking away and said, "Ms. Barlow, will you step in my office for a minute, please?" I had a funny feeling of what was coming. She shut the door behind us.
"Ms. Barlow, today has been wonderful having you in the front office. You made a hard day easy for me and handled everything with grace and professionalism. Even that letter I had you draft for me; if I'd asked Shelly (the secretary) to do that, she would have spent the next hour asking me so many questions about what to do that I'd have been better off doing it myself. It's just not working out with her. Would you consider taking her job next year?"
I wasn't sure how to respond. I asked, "What about the job I'm doing now? Attendance and keeping school records is a huge job, with lots of work and a lot to learn. I'm still learning, in fact. Who would do that?" and she sighed, and said we'd probably have to hire from outside to replace me, and that I do a great job in my current position, and "God, I really need two of you to do BOTH jobs haha..." She said that it would make her life so much easier to have a capable office manager that she really hoped I'd consider it and they'd find someone else to fill my job if I agreed. I told her I'd need to think it over, and she said, "Go home and talk it over with your husband this weekend, and we'll talk again on Monday."
Can you believe this crazy woman?!
First, she asks me if I'm interested in the job (back over the summer) and then when I schedule a time to go talk to her about it, she hires someone else the day before our interview. Now she sees that it was a bad hire and wants me to consider the job again now that she sees that I'm capable and a hard worker (and the person she hired is a dud!). If she wasn't my boss, I'd give her a piece of my mind. Honestly, I feel like she owes me an apology for last summer though of course I'd never tell her that.
What I plan to do is just wait and see how things pan out. This woman is impulsive and there's a not-zero chance that when Monday rolls around she won't mention any of this again. I've learned that it's wisest to just take anything she says with a grain of salt and politely ignore the weirdness and drama. Of course, I want to make more money (and it would be a lot more) but the plan has been to find a place to do that in another school. I'm thinking that if I bide my time and think over any options carefully, everything should come right in the end. I hope so.