School dropoff

The Others, In The Secret Garden Of Public Education

This is part of a series of posts from nominees for our LifeChanger of the Year educator recognition program. We meet scores of fascinating LifeChangers every year who have interesting perspectives to share about children, education and life.

When thinking about public education, people seldom consider the Business Office Staff. Rarely seen is the staff that works behind the scene making significant contributions to the education of children.

It somewhat reminds me of the movie, The Others. A woman and her children hear strange noises in their home—voices of ghosts. The “unseen” uniquely influences the well-being of other lives without direct intervention.

In the book, The Secret Garden, the central theme is love makes life flourish. Within school districts’ Business Offices, we are a segment of that conduit that helps our students, teachers, administrators, and co-workers flourish in a school district.

Yes, in the sphere of education within every school district, there exists The Others–The Business Office Staff.

The Business Office staff interacts with every school and department throughout the district.  The School Business Office is comprised of many units that constantly provide support services to the entire school district.

The initial point of connection to a school district is becoming an employee, which is a function of the first unit of the Business Office, the Department of Human Resources. This department is responsible for recruiting, hiring and verifying the employment of every individual working in the district.

Then there is the Payroll Department which assists with payroll processing, insurance documentation, and other deductions.

The Accounting Department receives and distributes monies and handles activity funds for students’ events such as the prom and field trips (yes!).

The Purchasing Division connects the Business Office with vendors who desire to do business with the school district, providing necessary information and procedures. This unit helps to ensure that schools and departments have all the necessary equipment and supplies needed for efficient operations.

The Budget Department plans, coordinates, and supervises the annual budget, then monitors the budget operations during the fiscal year for compliance.

Lastly, Accounts Payable is responsible for processing payments for all goods and services incurred and received by the District, including the payment of utility bills, vendors, and other expenses that directly impact the learning experience and environment of each student.

The Others in the Secret Garden of the Business Office must have a heart to serve.

Here are a few examples of the “Others” in the Garden. Often they exercise compassion and patience when timesheets are completed and presented incorrectly. Staff corrects mistakes and contact employees timely to avoid hiccups on payday.   Dedication is demonstrated by working on snow days to ensure employees receive a paycheck while other district personnel are home with visions of payday dancing in their heads.

The strange noise that can be heard is an employee who returns to work with hair curlers, after just making it home, because she received a call from a distressed traveler who needs confirmation of travel arrangements. Another strange noise is the employee who stayed beyond business hours to wait for a staff member to bring request for payments and receipts.

These acts of kindness of unsung heroes often go unnoticed and are never headlined, but they occur quite frequently.  We are always here, working to ensure that the business of the school district operates smoothly, efficiently and resourcefully. We are driven by the foundation of our office, Konnection, Konsideration, and Kindness (pirating from the phoneme sound).  Yes, believe it or not, Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic are not the only integral parts of education.

A favorite quote of our office is, “Leadership is not a position but an action.”

I am privileged and proud to work with a group of enthusiastic, committed and hard workers —  individuals, who may not get much fanfare, but are the wind beneath the wings of the school district where I work.

Knowing that the Business Office employees make such a difference in the lives of our students, teachers, administrators, and communities motivates us to perform at the highest level of professionalism.  We are The Others, “the unseen”, influencing the Secret Garden of Public Education.

Learn more about Elieen Wortham on her LifeChanger of the Year profile.