The view from the cafeteria
This week, I had two learning opportunities that made me appreciate member of our staff and helped me see our school from a different perspective.
The aide who supervises our breakfast program had to be out on Tuesday morning. With no substitute to fill in, I volunteered to take on her role. Arriving to school a few minutes early, I turned on the lights, made sure everything was set, and began greeting students. Our breakfast crowd drops in, and then heads out to he halls to socialize after they finish a quick meal. The chance to talk with students about their homework, what they watched on television the night before, or anything else on their minds was a positive shot in the arm to start my day. Unlike a lunch period, he small numbers allowed me to interact with every student. I walked away energized and thinking our breakfast aide has a fantastic job. Then I stepped back and reflected. As the person in our cafeteria, she is one of the first staff members our students see each day. She can literally make or break he beginning of a school day for so many of our students as she interacts with them and welcomes them to school.
I was appreciative of this experience. I didn’t anicipate that today, I would discover our cafeteria team was short a person. I moved some appointments around and signed on to help. I spent 90 minutes putting food out, making sure we had enough of everything, guiding students through the lunch line, cleaning up spills and running trays to the dishwasher. Hundreds of students pass through the lunch line, all with individual preferences and demands. Our cafeteria staff is patient, efficient, and teamwork is key. They answer the same question hundreds of times, greet students with a smile, and don’t hear “thank you” nearly enough.
We spend a lot of time as leaders talking about building and maintaining relationships with students. This week I had the chance to see how our food service department has the opportunity to have a positive impact on our students. I have always valued our support staff, but walking a mile in their shoes game me a deeper appreciation for their role in our organization.