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School secretaries mix fun and learning

New York Teacher
Jonathan Fickies

Secretaries (from left) Leyda Mattei, Sandra Moreno, Denise Hernandez and Mavis Williams talk shop during the luncheon.

Jonathan Fickies

School Secretaries Chapter Leader Mona Gonzalez (standing) with secretary Carol Marzano of Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brooklyn.

For the most part, school secretaries love their jobs. But at the UFT’s annual Secretaries Seminar on Jan. 10, it sure was fun for them to act out frustrating and infuriating scenarios and learn ways to communicate and cope.

“It was an excellent workshop,” says Mona Gonzalez, the school secretaries chapter leader and a school secretary for 19 years. “It was interactive, and they discussed situations and confrontations that have happened to many of us.”

Jonathan Fickies

Secretary Alice Mawere of Teachers Preparatory HS in Brooklyn looks over material.

More than 100 secretaries came, enjoyed a continental breakfast and attended several workshops on topics including payroll, pupil accounting and purchasing. The hands-down favorite offering was the aforementioned role-playing workshop.

“You sometimes go to these things and have to listen to blah, blah, blah — and think ‘Why am I here on my day off?’” says Alice Mawere, a secretary for 11 years at Teachers Preparatory HS in Brooklyn. “Everybody was laughing and nodding their heads because we know this was not theoretical. It’s real. And it’s very helpful.”

Unlike many attendees, Carol Marzano is a newbie to the secretarial pool, arriving in 2012 at Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brooklyn, after a 21-year stint on Wall Street.

“It was great meeting others who are in the same craziness as you,” Marzano says, laughing. “School secretaries have very big responsibilities. But on most days, it’s a great job. On other days, if I need to scream, I wait until I get in my car.”

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