The front office is a very different place this year.
In the past, Riverside’s students and front office staff were familiar with each other. There were the same faces in the office every year, and the staff knew students by name. They were easy to talk to. It felt like a family. But the new folks don’t understand.
Ms. Williams was like a mother you could go and talk to about anything. She was a happy and loving person. Ms. Canada always greeted students and parents with a smile when they walked into the office. My mom graduated from Riverside in 2004. As a student, she loved Mrs. Canada because she was so nice and caring. Now, as a parent of three Riverside kids, she was proud a familiar face was still here.
Then COVID hit. We went virtual and were out of the building for almost a year and a half. Ms. Williams ended up leaving to go to another district. Staff left for various reasons, such as different jobs, life choices, moving, etc. Now, masks are required at school, and we can’t interact with each other as usual.
It’s important for Riverside to be like family because students have to feel comfortable here to do well, and the front office is an essential part of school. Students go there to the front office to meet their counselor, find information about buses, sign in and out and get a break from class. All of these trips include human interactions. And if we can’t go to the office to have a normal conversation, then are we really a family?
We get close with the staff at school because we’re supposed to feel comfortable here. Sometimes students have off days or things going on at home and want to talk to someone. Usually the front office is the place to have those conversations, even when we’re not at our best.
It’s a tough time for everyone as we’re trying to adjust to this new system. Every family has ups and downs, and we are still in a pandemic. That does not, however, make it okay to snatch papers from students or give attitude when being asked a question. We need positivity to be successful. If we can’t get it from school, regardless of what time of day it is, then why are we here?
To improve the atmosphere in the front office, I believe students and staff need to be more intentional about their ways. Masks hide a lot of emotions. When we do smile, others can’t see it, so we need to take that into consideration.
Student government could also make a survey and gather data once a quarter about how teachers and staff are doing and what would make the school a more positive atmosphere.
It’s been a rough stretch, but we need a better attitude from the front office to have a better environment here. So students will feel like a family again.