Friday, February 18, 2011

An Office with a View

by Jan Shoop
In the fall of 2003, when I first arrived at StarShine, my office was part of the front office. I had a desk that was wedged between another desk, chairs, and assorted file cabinets in a very small office that I shared with the Registrar. The arrangement didn’t allow me to have private parent or teacher meetings or confidential conferences with students. I’d end up talking with parents, students and teachers in the hallway and cafeteria, at the gate, and on the playground. Needless to say it wasn’t the best arrangement.
After the first four months of school, I decided to move my office to a storage room that was filled with junk and was an unused teacher’s lounge. The school had had some furniture donated and some file cabinets, so with the help of students, parents and teachers we emptied the junk and moved in my furniture. I positioned my desk right in front of the door. My office was next to the student bathrooms and drinking fountain. When my door was open, which was most of the time, I could see down the sidewalk and the front door of all the classrooms. It was like having an office in the middle of the playground, perfect if you’re the Principal and need to keep your finger on the pulse of the school.
My office had white walls, a dark blue ceiling, navy carpet and a ceiling fan with a light that had yellow flowers on it. I had one small window that looked out on the parking lot and if I stood on my tippy toes I could see the street that ran in front of the school. I decorated the walls with motivational sayings and affirmations, photographs of school events and art work from students.
I had an old chair, a used desk, a scratched table that wobbled and worn out file cabinets, but I was a happy camper. Having a private office in a school, when you are having multiple parent, teacher and student conversations each day, is a must. Having private meetings in my old office was not possible since the front office, assorted desks and file cabinets, the Registrar and school secretary were pretty much in my lap.
The only problem with my new office was that it had two air conditioning/heating vents and the other offices around it had one. So when the heat or air conditioning was on I got blasted. During the winter it meant that most of the time my door was open to let out the heat. I spent the whole winter with my coat on all day. And in the summer, I still kept my coat on because the air conditioning and ceiling fan blew in my face and occasionally blew all the papers off my desk.
Looking back, it was one of the most memorable offices I’ve ever had. I always had a great view of the playground and knew what everyone was doing. I knew who was headed for the bathrooms or to get a drink. And I met and chatted with every visitor as they walked past my door. I have great memories of long, meaningful conversations with teachers and parents, and enlightening and enjoyable meetings with students. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade that office for one of the fanciest offices in the world.
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