Everyone knows the positive impact that teachers and school leaders have on the lives of students. As I walk through the classrooms, I see teachers who care deeply about children and know that unless a relationship is established with the students, learning will stall. But there are others on campus that have a positive impact on student learning and campus safety. A safe and clean learning environment is essential for learning. On a school site there are many employees who support the students’ learning and create a positive learning atmosphere.
I go to the school canteen every day. At Pomolita we have three wonderful people serving breakfast, snacks and lunch. I see them interacting with kids, knowing their names and asking questions about clothes, new haircuts and favorite teams. The Lunch Ladies go out of their way to prepare food that students like and prepare special meals for students with special dietary needs. They smile and say “hello” by name as students get food and walk past them. They work very hard to make sure the kids are comfortable eating and going through the lunch hour. They really care about the students and love their job. I appreciate what they do for our students.
Students need to feel safe at school. We have four campus security guards who help students know the rules but also keep an eye on our campus. They build wonderful relationships with our students. There are many students who go to campus security when they have problems at home or need help with making friends. On yearbook signing day, there is always a long line for campus security to sign yearbooks. The students trust our security team and have great respect for them.
Our after-school ASES program is a great help to our students. The program is run by a dedicated staff, which includes after-school homework, arts, crafts, and physical activities. It’s a fun and prosperous time for students. There are certain people who work in our ASES program but most are employees who add a few hours to their day. Many are para-professionals who work in the classrooms of our special education program. These staff working with some of our most needy students are phenomenal. Her empathy and patience are heartfelt. They are exceptional people who care deeply about the children they work with. This job requires a very special person.
Bus drivers have superpowers! You can focus on driving 60 kids around town and in the country while the students are…kids. I think they have two eyes on the road and one on the drivers! They also know all the students on their route and where they get off. If for any reason a student does not show up at home after school, the first thing we do is contact the bus driver. You always know who is on your bus and at which stop you are getting off. On many occasions I have had bus drivers call me about worried students. They ask the kids how their day went and always greet them by name when they get on the bus. They are amazing people with super powers who take care of our students.
The administrators on our site are amazing. They do the hard jobs at our school. They take care of the garbage, clean up behind the students, sweep and mop, all the hard jobs at school to keep our schools clean and safe. They’ll pick up balls from trees and rooftops, clear away pallets of books and supplies, fix all sorts of things that break, and check fire extinguishers, to name a few. They also find time to help a special needs student who wants to observe them or to talk to a student who needs an adult to talk to. School guard jobs are tough and physically tough, but at Pomolita, our guards care about children and have big hearts.
I can’t ignore the office staff. This is the heart of the school. For a school to run well, the office staff must be welcoming, knowledgeable, efficient and child-friendly. Our staff build relationships with students and are very supportive.
A well-functioning school should have many adults supporting the students. The most important relationship in a student’s life is the student-teacher relationship in the classroom. But there are many other people who positively impact a student’s life and education. This is for all the assistants at a school site who love their job and care deeply about our students.
Bryan Barrett is the principal of Pomolita Middle School.