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Your School's Main Office:
“No matter how well your office space is set up, the main ingredient for a successful office experience for visitors is to have the right people working there,” says Rob Ackerman, principal at Lane Elementary School in Bedford, Massachusetts. “Parents’ impressions of schools, for better or worse, are often formed by their office interactions. If you are greeted warmly and promptly, then your overall mindset toward the school is accented toward the positive.”
Principal Karen Mink agrees. “My office staff is unbelievable,” said Mink, who is principal at Jefferson Elementary School in DeKalb, Illinois. “I have never worked with a more congenial staff. My secretary greets every parent and student as if she was genuinely happy to see them. It is amazing to watch, and the parents and I adore her.”
At Jefferson, the personal touch extends beyond the office. As visitors enter the building, a “safety monitor” greets them as they sign in, added Mink.
“My secretaries are the best of the best,” says John Stone, principal at Rindge (New Hampshire) Elementary School. “No matter how they feel, their happy faces shine when they greet visitors.”
While Stone’s office staff has had some customer service training, their approaches to the school’s customers -- kids, staff, and parents -- is more natural than learned and practiced. When office procedure issues arise, Stone and his office staff talk things through.
“We talk about how to do things,” said Stone. “Sometimes they agree with me and other times they have better ideas. We try things and are willing to change as needed.”
Principal Les Potter recognizes that the school’s front office is the first line of defense with parents and vendors, so each member of the nine-person office team at Silver Sands Middle School in Port Orange, Florida, is crossed-trained so the front office runs efficiently at all times.
Most important of all, Potter said, is that office personnel always remember that parents are not as knowledgeable as the rest of us are about the school district and its policies. “Parents get frustrated with the system, so we must be patient with them as we help them work with the system,” he said.Read the Other Parts of This Article
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