Features

Outside the classroom

Just past the nurse lies a savior from the dreaded lecture on lateness. The white passes distributed by Susan Kocher, the attendance secretary, can save one from a teacher lecture on punctuality in circumstances of even the most extreme tardiness.

The cozy office is warmly lit, with a few trending pop songs playing in the background. A dish of seasonal candies is conveniently placed on the top of Kocher’s desk, where a late student might rest his mittens or phone for a moment.

Before working in attendance, Kocher had a career in fashion. She made the switch to attendance secretary for her children. “I wanted to be home with them and on their schedule,” said Kocher, a mother of four, two of whom are currently students at North. Despite her motivation to change careers, Kocher remembers being “hesitant on taking [the job] because I was used to working with younger kids at the younger schools and the high schoolers kind of scared me. But now that I have my own, and like them, it’s easy. I get it—I get the kids.”

She also finds that working in attendance gives insight into the lives of the students. Being in contact with students who are absent or late “gives me a better understanding of what kids are going through,” Kocher said.

Of student attendance trends, Kocher noted that the policy change, even with its ultimate failure in the beginning of the year, has made quite an impact. “Kids aren’t absent quite as much as they used to be,” she said.

Kocher cited “deciphering Tel-Safe messages” as one of the most difficult aspects of attendance, with parents often on the go when they call the school. But the hardest part for her is the end of the year. “I get very sad when it’s summer, and all the seniors are graduating, and I’ll never see a lot of them again. I love the kids,” Kocher said.

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