This past week, I went to Union Elementary School for classroom visits. As I always do, I checked in at the front office to let folks know I would be there. To my surprise, two new faces were at the desk: Anne Fraser one of our Instructional Assistants and Diadel Ortiz who directs our after school program. Normally, I would see Diana Koliander-Hart and Pam Foster who ensure that the trains run on time at UES.
I soon found out they were at a training and as Anne rose from the desk, she told me with a smile it was now "my turn" as she needed to get back to her regular duties. I paused. Classroom visits are one of my favorite parts about being Superintendent. Interacting with students and teachers in their learning environments, building relationships, listening to what is happening on a day-to-day basis, shows Montpelier Public Schools that I mean what I say when I commit to every student feeling safe and included when they come to school.
And yet, there was a concrete need in front of me. I could not say no - this is what UES needed to ensure that the school continued to run smoothly. Now please know that I have never been officially seated in that chair. Clearly, I can answer the phone, but I am well aware that front-office Administrative Assistant positions are critical to a well-run building. And there is so much more to those positions than simply answering the phone. Anyone who has spent any time in schools knows that is a fact. This was the view from my chair that day:
As it turns out, there was very little for me to do while I was there. The phone rang and was answered by Diadel. A couple of folks inquired about whether or not there was outdoor recess. The front door chimed once, and Diadel let that person in. She showed me the steps to do it the next time it rang but it never did again while I was there.
Soon, Diana returned and shortly after that, Pam did as well. I was on my way to my classroom visits. But I was also struck by how uncomfortable and nervous I was being thrust into a position that I was not familiar with. It made me grateful, incredibly grateful, for all the employees of MPS who do many, many jobs that I am not nearly proficient in. We rely on each other to ensure that the mission is a reality for all students. Without the capable and fabulous staff members in our district, along with countless volunteers, we would not be able to serve our students and their families in the consistent, thorough, and thoughtful way that we do.
Instruction is at the core of education. Yet it would be shortsighted to fail to recognize the critical role that staff play in the lives of our students and their families. At the very heart, education is a human endeavor; and we do it together. We are all part of the wonderful enterprise that we call Montpelier Public Schools. When we make mistakes, the errors are shared and our joys are multiplied when we succeed. It is, as it always has been and will continue to be, about relationships.