On the Job with… Stacie Fehrman, Office Coordinator at McKinnon Park Secondary School
It’s early in the morning before classes begin at McKinnon Park Secondary School, and the main office is already a bustling hub of activity. There are absences to report, binders to organize for supply teachers, room keys to distribute, staff members popping in with requests, deliveries to sort, supplies to order, forms to fill out, and a phone that rings constantly.
Office coordinator Stacie Fehrman is a centre of calm in the middle of the storm. At one point while relaying details to Cathi Krueger, Vice-Principal at McKinnon Park, Fehrman stops her sentence midway through to answer a ringing phone. She doesn’t miss a beat when she finishes the call, effortlessly picking up the sentence right where she left off. She’s pretty much the definition of multi-tasking.
“Teachers and administrators are pulled in so many different directions, I like to help wherever I can,” Fehrman says. “We have a great team dynamic, with open dialogue, and we all want to be here doing this work. For students’ sake, we’re constantly in contact.”
Fehrman has been at McKinnon Park for eight years, and at Grand Erie for 11. In her current role she ensures the day-to-day workings of the school function like a well-oiled machine. For visitors to the school, she is the first point of contact. For students, parents, and fellow staff members, she’s a friendly face, a reliable source of information, a problem solver, someone who listens.
“The job of the office coordinator is multi-faceted and always busy, but Stacie is able to work through whatever comes our way,” says Krueger. “She keeps her cool, has a great sense of humour, and keeps our team on track in a positive and kind way.”
Fehrman is also a digital dynamo, ensuring the school’s social media platforms and website are updated regularly, and that inquiries from parents or community members are answered promptly. When Grand Erie revamped its board website and school websites last year, Fehrman was part of the committee that advised on which elements should be included for maximum functionality of school sites.
Predictable rushes occur each day based on the school timetable, and Fehrman can usually count on a constant flow of new requests and tasks in the meantime.
“I don’t think I ever leave at the end of the day having crossed every single item off my to-do list, and I’ve come to realize that this is okay,” she says. “There really is no typical day – there’s always something new – and I love that about the job.”
At least at home, she can put her feet up and relax. Right?
“I have three boys, eight-years-old and under, so my car is my quiet place,” she says with a laugh. “I take deep breaths before I go home so I’m ready for the craziness – but it’s a good kind of crazy!”
Fehrman’s role, and the role of office coordinators across Grand Erie, is of the utmost importance to the Board realizing its goals. With a Multi-Year Plan that includes creating and fostering welcoming, safe, equitable environments, the tone in the office is pivotal in ensuring those objectives reach students and families. Fehrman works each day to make sure that whatever a student needs – someone to talk to, a place to regroup, advice about school or life – that they find it. As the first point of contact in many matters, her ability to direct people to the information and resources they need is crucial, and even lifesaving.
“We get to know students and families really well, and take notice of things like changes in behaviour,” she says. “If something is wrong, we know who to contact. If a student has a lot of absences, we know that there’s often a very valid reason behind those absences.”
Ultimately, she wants the main office to be somewhere people want to be.
“It should be a friendly place that’s fun to visit,” she says.
There are challenges, of course, and sometimes she’s on the receiving end of someone’s frustration. A background in customer service comes in handy in those moments.
“I sit and listen, and don’t open my mouth until they’ve said what they need to say,” she remarks. “We all want to be heard, and if I can be there to listen, oftentimes that helps immensely.”
As a Caledonia resident, Fehrman is incredibly proud of the services her school provides and the team that works to make sure students succeed.
“It’s a diverse, open community that works together really well,” she says. “When I run into families at the hockey arena or grocery store, I love that they recognize me and are happy to see me.”
At one point during the day, a supply teacher pops into the office with questions that Fehrman is happy to answer.
“Thank you for that – you’re so friendly!” the supply teacher says to her with a big, relieved smile as she departs.