December 2, 2016
As a student, did you ever get sent to the principal’s office? Do you remember any details of his/her room? Was the administrative assistant in the main office welcoming?
I do vaguely remember the offices of my elementary school and junior high. One was more welcoming than the other. I recall my elementary principal having this large wooden desk that seemed to take up a large part of his office. During my junior year of high school, instead of going to study hall first block, I worked in the “Yellow/White Office.” I helped the administrative assistant by checking in late students, sorting mail and putting it in teachers’ mailboxes, and just hanging behind the counter in this office.
As many of you know, I have a twin sister. Although we attended Nashua High, there were a few classes we had together. Biology class was one of them. One day in class, I became argumentative with the teacher. Our discussion turned to the point in which she said, “Ann, if you continue, you will be sent to Mr. Cote’s office (he was the assistant principal in charge of my part of the alphabet). With my father having taught/worked with Mr. Cote, and knowing my sister would share at the dinner table my fate, I chose to stop arguing.
I decided to share this story because I know when parents receive a phone call from me or the call from Katie saying that Ms. Holloran would like to set up a meeting, the majority of the time, the first reaction is not a pleasant one. This week, I had a parent meeting and the mom shared that her child was nervous that she was going to get yelled at by the principal. At the end of the meeting, I brought the student into my office to sit with us as I reassured him/her that I didn’t yell and I summarized what was talked about at the meeting. We all left the office with smiles. It is one of my goals to try to make all families feel welcomed into our school community and into my office. I try to remember that for some adults, school wasn’t always a great experience. I try to be an active listener. I focus on allowing people the opportunity to share. Lastly, we sit together around a round table instead of me being behind a large wooden desk. It is my ultimate hope that parents’ and students’ memories of my office are ones of getting books, a place of listening to all sides, walls of colorful art and inspiring quotes, an area of learning, and where we fix our mistakes.
I know that often the last sentence of my written correspondence ends with “please don’t hesitate to reach out or call.” I hope this article helps to reassure you that “we are in the journey of educating your child together” and I hope the principal’s office is a little less intimidating.
Have a great weekend!
P.S. To finish the story, of course at the dinner table that night Maryann shared our experience in biology class. Since my dad was a teacher in the Nashua School District, he had a telephone book with the names of teachers in the system. After discussing the events with my parents, shortly after dinner, I had to call my biology teacher’s home and apologize for my rude and disrespectful behavior in class. In addition, I was grounded for a week.