The Right-Hand Women

The Role of a Secretary at Olathe East

Basima Khan, Staff Writer

Imagine no one to answer the phone, no one to assist the principal and administrators, no one to carry out countless significant responsibilities. Without secretaries, Olathe East would enter a state of unorganized chaos. Secretaries, credited with helping run the school, hold an important role in how the school functions. At Olathe East, multiple types of secretaries handle different types of responsibilities. Many individuals count on the secretaries from parents to administrators to students.

Marcy Magott, the general secretary who assists the three administrators, Mr. Drew Thomas, Mr. Kraig Taylor, and Mr. Frank Bell explained what role secretaries play in running the school.

“We help get the doors open and get things started. We just help them [administrators] manage it [the school],” Magott said.

Secretaries carry multiple responsibilities on their shoulders to make sure the day passes along smoothly. They perform a variety of tasks specific to their type of job.

“I help all the administrators with discipline and referrals. I also assist in the truancy letters. I assist Mr. Taylor with the facilities calendar. I assist in gathering the seminar club information for Mr. Bell and other activities. I help with editing the payroll for parents who are in the building,” Magott said.

Ginger Ewonus, the attendance secretary who has been working at Olathe East for 10 years holds different responsibilities specific to her line of work.

“I spend time answering the phone, going into our student information system, synergy and entering each student’s individual attendance for the day to make sure they are excused. We also look into attendance verification which will show everybody absent in this school, not excused yet so we can figure out where they are at so we can get them excused. If somebody needs an I.D. card, we enter their information, take their picture, and print it. If somebody want to park their car on the lot, they come in and purchase a parking pass and then we issue [a] parking sticker to them,” Ewonus said.

Olathe East secretaries work from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Their day is comprised of an eight-hour work-day with half an hour for lunch. Sometimes the number of hours secretaries work varies depending on the amount of work left towards the end of the day or the time of the year.

Janel Hernandez who recently became the athletic secretary of Olathe East stated what times of the year the workday stretches beyond the 3:30 mark.

“As the athletic secretary, the weeks sports start are a little more hectic,” Hernandez said.

Certain times of the year remain busy for different types of secretaries.

“A few times a year, when it is parent teacher conferences, we work into the evening but other than one or two nights a year I can usually leave by 3:30. It is a nice, flexible position,” Magott said.

Secretaries learn and practice many skills in order to effectively perform their duties and carry out responsibilities. Sometimes, they learn new skills to perform their job more efficiently or due to a change occurring in the system.

Tina Durham, the 21st Academies secretary explained other skills secretaries need to become successful in their position.

“You need really good organizational skills because you usually have several things you have to get done when you work for multiple people so you have to be able to know what is important first and get that taken care of. You have to have good typing and word-processing skills [and] know how to use Google docs. Gathering information or providing information [is a necessary skill]. You have to have a good sense of humor,” Durham said.

Jackie Giesecke, the principal secretary who assists the school principal, Mrs. Kerry Lane explained the relationship secretaries need to share with the public.

“One of the most important skills a secretary needs to have is the ability to meet the public and present themselves professionally. You have to have the ability to adjust to who your audience is and meet the need of the person you are dealing with. Skills [are] being able to handle parents [or] students who might be upset, from people who want to offer you a service. You have to be able to work in the programs the district provides for us. All of us do not work in the same programs everyday so depending on what our responsibilities are in the building, we all deal with different things, ” Giesecke said.

Communication plays a major role in a secretary’s job. Their responsibilities require them to communicate with multiple people for a plentitude of reasons.

“Every single day. Certainly, there are periods where I just spend a lot of time at my desk but I meet with all of the juniors and seniors and the academies so I need to discuss where they are and make sure they are on track for the endorsement so there is a lot of communication on a student level. I have to keep the teachers informed of where they are and I need to help them whenever they need it so I am always talking to somebody, of all different ages from students to my co-workers to the administrators to parents and to venders on the outside,” Durham said.

They often acquire the skills needed to deal with difficult people such as learning how to maintain a calm and collected exterior.

“If I come across a difficult situation and it either angers or causes a conflict, I just try to stay level-headed and mostly listen because [it] helps a lot. I make sure I understand what they are needing and I will follow up and help them with the situation. If it is a parent calling in, [who] is upset for some reason, I tell them I am a parent too and I understand; however, I am not the person they need to be speaking with but I can get information to the right person, and [it] usually helps,” Magott said.

Commonly secretaries communicate with people through emails or face-to-face depending on the preference of the person.

“There are a large number of teachers in the building, some just can not get down to see me and prefer to communicate electronically. There are some people [who] will come and see me. I’m just flexible with whatever works, because I can do either. It is nice having things electronically because you can refer back to it and have good information [which] is written out but I’m accepting to whatever works for anybody else,” Magott said.

No day remains the same for secretaries, lending a certain spontaneity exists in their job.

“What I like the most is I get to do something different everyday. If I had to sit at a job [where] I did the same thing all day long, everyday, I would be miserable. So, I like the change,” Hernandez said.

Thrown different challenges everyday, secretaries perform their responsibilities efficiently and complete tasks at the appropriate time. Due to the number of changes occurring throughout the day, a secretary must remain flexible. Flexibility often helps secretaries when dealing with the unpredictable nature of their job.

“You cannot expect the day to go as planned. A lot of times, things are thrown at us out of the blue that were not expected and so you just have to be willing to bend and be flexible and to give a little bit,” Ewonus said.

Teamwork plays a major role in the environment of secretaries. Secretaries often help and learn from each other.

“There needs to be [teamwork]. When someone up front is gone, we have to cover for them to answer the phones and stuff like that. We have to cover for each other and that is where the teamwork come in. Whoever has a need, I try to jump in and help whenever I can,” Hernandez said.

If certain secretaries struggle to get along, the whole atmosphere becomes affected.

“If you work with somebody you do not get along with it creates a lot of tension and hardship in the office. If you do not get along with somebody, it is important the two of you sit down and talk and try to resolve the conflict because it can hurt the working atmosphere if you do not get along,” Ewonus said.

Luckily, Olathe East secretaries find the atmosphere of their workplace positive and warm.

“I think it [the atmosphere of the office] feels busy and fun and sometimes loud and overwhelming. It just depends on whatever the day brings and it is never the same everyday,” Giesecke said.

Olathe East secretaries believe they hold a number of benefits, allowing them to carry out their responsibilities more easily and quickly.

“For secretaries, we all work in the same space together, so it is easier for us to get together as a group and get something done. We can see this job we need to get done, we can immediately do it, and get it taken care of. [This] is a huge benefit. It is also a benefit you can specialize more for your duties like Mrs. Durham is the 21st Century Programs secretary, that is her specialty, but we all benefit from that because we know who to go to to get the information and come along side her, and to help her if she needs something so we can help her do her job. Each of us has our area of specialty but we can all draw from each other’s knowledge,” Giesecke said.

Some Olathe East secretaries learn many valuable lessons.

“I’ve learned to realize I need to appreciate other people and always be thankful for the things they help me with, as well,” Hernandez said.

These lessons allow them to become better people and better secretaries.

“You should never judge the book by its cover. You need to take time to get to know people and understand them because we all have different experiences that cause us to think and operate the way we do,” Giesecke said.

Secretaries encounter multiple special events.

“The memorable moments for me involve, usually involve when a student is having a very rough day and maybe just needs a safe place to come and hang out or to talk. It is always memorable when you can be there for a student and maybe help them feel better,” Ewonus said.

Some turn out positive, some turn out negative, but they remain unforgettable moments.

“I had kids yelling at me, I have had parents yelling in the front office and had to break up that argument. I have had parents and students thank me for what I’ve done for them. I had my boss thank me for what I have done for her. Those things are valuable. They make your heart happy,” Giesecke said.

Olathe East secretaries enjoy their job to the fullest and enjoy carrying out tasks benefitting the school as a whole. They care for and help different people throughout the school even if the person remains unaware of the help offered.

“Appreciate the secretaries because they are important and needed,” Hernandez said.


Basima Khan // Staff Writer