Saturday, May 17, 2014

Leading by Example

Post by Kristie Henson: Kristie is completing her 6th year as the Guidance Secretary at Bettendorf High School.  You can follow her on twitter @Bettmom0210 

I always knew I would be in a profession where I would help people.  I thought that I would be a nurse or a therapist, or maybe even a school counselor.  But a “secretary” not so much.  Now looking back, I think that I have one of the best jobs in one of the best places with the best people.  I am the Guidance Secretary at Bettendorf High School.  When you think of a secretary, you think of someone who answers phones and keeps “the higher ups” organized and on task.  I feel this position is nothing like that. My main focus of every day is to positively impact someone’s life… whether it is a student, a staff member, or maybe even someone from our community. 

In our Guidance office we have two student workers. They assist in answering the phones and greeting people who enter.  On the first day, they are acquainted with their responsibilities and we go over basic office rules.  However, the one thing that I stress that is a very important introduction to our office it that they must greet anyone who comes in and immediately assist them.  I truly value my interaction and mentoring of these students.

Despite the stereotype, being at Bettendorf High School does not exclude us from having students who are homeless, hungry, drug addicted, neglected, or in a foster home. I am finding that the most frustrating, hard to reach kids are those who have had very little support from home or from anyone for that matter.  They could even be the wealthiest of students and still we may wonder how they can be so miserable.  Kids act out in many different ways; some show no emotion at all when they are faced with tough times.  I want our student workers to learn that throughout their lives they will meet people with a variety circumstances and that with a simple action or response you can change what may be a negative situation into something positive.

I see so many situations that come in our office each day. The reason someone comes in our Guidance office is because they need help! Whether they want to change a class, need help understanding a class, are in conflict with someone significant to them, or they are having a bad day and need a place to go, they turn to us.  There is a definite increase in the number of students who really need our help and guidance in order for them to make it through the next 15 minutes, hour, or even the day.  We do not place judgment on them.  When they enter our office, it is essential that they are immediately greeted with a smile, and some type of positive response. “Good Morning, How can I help you? How is your day?”  Also when they leave, the response is, “have a great day”, or even a simple, “good bye.” This shows that you acknowledge them and they mean something.

With these greetings, I know that I am impacting an individual. Even if someone is having a bad day and is trying to keep it together, a simple “How can I help you” and eye contact can make that individual comfortable. I want them to know that it is okay to come to our office when they are happy, sad, crying, or even in an all-out rage.  They have to know that there are people here to help them whether it is an adult or even their peers.  This is why my job is not “just the secretary” and the student workers are not just students. We are on the front lines and need to assess what individuals need and how we can help them. 

I hope by setting an example to students it will provide them the tools to help others throughout their lives and not be so quick to stereotype and pass judgment.


  1. Beautifully stated Kristie~I know your positive energy makes a lot of us feel we can "keep it together" for another day. You are a comforting presence at BHS.

  2. Awsome! We could not be the team we are with out you or our front-line students. Your the best!! Great job!!