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The Backstage Staff of Arlington Public Schools

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The Backstage Staff of Arlington Public Schools

School Resource Officer, Timothy Koch

School Resource Officer, Timothy Koch

Cammie Kuwana

School Resource Officer, Timothy Koch

Cammie Kuwana

Cammie Kuwana

School Resource Officer, Timothy Koch

Lizzie Koumans, Sentry Staff Reporter

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When students walk into school bright and early every morning, they may not realize just how much work has gone on behind the scenes to make their day run smoothly. Every day, schools are bustling with much more activity than just students trudging from class to class and teachers giving lectures. With busy days and lots of students, managing a school and everything inside of it requires full-time effort from hundreds of staff members. Next time you are walking in the hallways, take a minute to look around and thank your school’s staff, from resource officers to custodians and beyond.

For most staff, school days can be either hectic or quiet. For instance, when Resource Officer Timothy Koch walks into the building every day, he usually has very little idea what the day will entail. As a resource officer, Koch does not work for Arlington Public Schools (APS), but instead for the Arlington County Police Department. Although Koch spends the majority of his time in the school dealing with crimes and violations of school policy, he could still respond to the police station if needed. Working at the school can also be unpredictable for a resource officer though.

“[Some days are] very quiet days, other days you just never know. Other days it’s just very busy and I might not get out of here until six o’clock at night if I am still taking reports or dealing with something …. That’s one thing about any type of police work– you just don’t know what your day is going to be like. You can’t go into work expecting you will be out by 4 o’clock,” Koch said.

The same unpredictability fills the days of many other staff in school buildings. For example, substitute teachers have to be flexible in case of teacher absences and custodians have to be able to respond to and clean up accidents in the school right away.

While most workers in schools are associated with the students, some are there to more support the other staff. The school’s Educational Administration Assistant Coordinator, Dolores Rubalcava, is a prime example of this. Rubalcava works hard every day to help keep schedules and paperwork organized for the school and the principal.

“My job would probably be to keep the principal’s calendar and appointments. I do payroll for about 250 staff members in the building. I also take care of any family medical leave that teachers might apply for, and I help with workman’s compensation if any teacher gets hurt at school. I also file or take care of paperwork if students get hurt– we have to send it up for insurances,” Rubalcava said.

Beyond school administration, there are many staff whose main job is to support students. Counselors work tirelessly to make sure students are empowered to overcome academic struggles as well as help them through their toughest days, but sometimes the counselors’ office is backed up. Not very many students know about the school’s social workers and psychologists who are also there to help out, especially with mental health.

“I think it’s awesome that [social workers] are [in schools] …. School is stressful … and it’s not easy. I sit down and eat with kids during the day, so sometimes the kids, just like a counseling office, come and sit with me and talk with me for a couple of minutes. Sometimes [a student’s] day is just a disaster and so I wish people knew about [the social workers],” school Social Worker Natalie Edwards said.

One of the hardest parts of the day for anyone is waking up early. For some APS staff, getting up bright and early and arriving at school as early as six o’clock is a part of their daily schedule. On the joyful days when a “School is Closed” alert pops up on a student’s phone or computer screen, it is easy to ignore the part of the message telling custodians to report to school at a regular or even earlier time than normal to help clean up around the school.

Ebenezer Oware, the Building Supervisor and head custodian, plays a huge part in making sure the school stays safe and clean. He is in charge of giving instructions to the other custodians from teachers and staff.

“I take care of all the cleaning activities and all of the set-ups that we as custodians need to do. Anything that comes up from either the principal, assistant principal, or any of the teachers– all of them come to me and I make sure that things get done,” Oware said.

Although APS staff have long, tiring days filled with unpredictable moments, most staff do love coming in to school every day. Getting to be with kids is the main reason a lot of people choose to work in schools in the first place

“I get up every morning and love coming to my job. I love kids and to make a difference in their life if I can. That has happened here and there and it is very fulfilling to know that sometimes you make a difference, even if it is a little thing. It’s what I enjoy doing,” school Security Officer Kip Davis said.

These outstanding staff members and many more work tirelessly every day to contribute their help and expertise to APS. Many students take their clean classrooms and safe schools for granted, but staff should be recognized for their hard work, helpfulness and dedication that really make successful school days possible.

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