Gill Secretan, Secretary at Dartmouth Community College
My Job - Gill Secretan
Who are you? Gill Secretan
What is your job?
My job title is school secretary at Dartmouth Community College but it is a bit of a “mum” role to be honest – looking after the students, the staff, parents and visitors.
It’s a pastoral job as much as an admin job. I sit at the reception desk so I am the first person people meet when they come into the college or when they telephone. I answer the phone, take messages, meet and greet visitors and deal with students all day, letting them phone home if they have forgotten something, looking after them if they are poorly, dishing out plasters and sympathy and phoning their parents if they need to go home, helping them remember where they need to be if they are lost.
Every day I go through the list of absent students and call their parents, just to make sure they are safe. I would hate a student to walk out of their home and fail to arrive at school, and for no-one to realise. It’s very important to me that I know that everyone is ok.
I also look after all the student records on the computer. Every student comes to us with their own personal file from their previous school, and I maintain that, updating it all the time they are with us, and archiving them all when the students leave.
If a student misses their bus or their lift home, I never leave them. I always wait until we’ve sorted out the problem and they have gone happily on their way.
If parents or students need to have a meeting with a member of staff, I arrange that too. I tell the students that my door is always open – they must never worry about anything and I am always here if they need me. In fact I say the same to the teachers!
How long have you worked there?
I started work here in 1990. It was supposed to be a temporary job covering someone else’s maternity leave, and I have never left!
My own daughter was here then. She joined part way through her secondary schooling and it was hard for her, but she always says these were the best years of her life. So I understand when we have new students who come part way through a term or without knowing anyone else. It is nerve wracking - I still get nervous if I have to do new things by myself. So I look after them and make sure they pal up with someone else, and that they are ok. This is a small and friendly school, so it doesn’t take them long to fit in.
Do you live nearby?
I’ve lived in Dartmouth since 1984 when I moved here from Dorset with my family and my inlaws. We’d always loved Dartmouth and had visited many times before that.
Can you tell us about your family?
I have two lovely daughters, Jenny who lives in Wiltshire, and Caroline who lives in Dubai, and three wonderful grandchildren. I see them as often as I can, and I try to get out to Dubai two or three times a year.
What do you like to do when you are not at work?
I love films. I’m a member of the Film Society and I go to their film evenings at the Guildhall, as well as seeing films at the Flavel. I also like walking, and I enjoy DIY – painting, decorating, all sorts of home improvements – it’s relaxation for me!
Have you ever worked anywhere else?
I was a secretary in a hospital in Hampshire, which I loved and which was quite similar to working here. I was also a solicitors’ secretary and I worked in an engineering office, and that was interesting too.
What is the best thing about your job?
Without a doubt I would have to say the students. Non pupil days are a real disappointment for me. I love the students and the close relationship I have with them. Every day I have a young receptionist to work with me, someone from Year 7 or Year 8, and I keep them very busy. I get to know them and they really enjoy the work and the responsibility. Everything I do revolves around the students – they are wonderful young people.
First published November 2009 By the Dart