Students help out at school

Published 12:02 am Thursday, October 20, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT McLaurin Elementary’s student office worker Quadrick Bradford, 9, delivers a document on a paddle to fourth-grade art teacher Mary Beth Wentworth on Wednesday. The student office helper program helps prevent disturbances and interruptions during class time.

NATCHEZ — When students at McLaurin Elementary School hunker down to take a math quiz, instructions barked over the intercom can interrupt their focus mid long division.

So the school started a system to eliminate the noisy disruptions that lets students play secretary, McLaurin Assistant Principal Daisy West said.

Third grader Quadrick Bradford was one of the two student workers Wednesday morning. He kicked off his duties by delivering a note to Ms. Wentworth’s class.

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“I feel important,” Bradford said of his job.

Student workers, who deliver notes, shred papers, straighten up library stacks and perform other administrative duties, get a chance to help out and keep classrooms focus friendly while learning about responsibility and leadership, West said.

“I feel like it makes me look like a leader,” Bradford said.

West said homeroom teachers choose student workers, who, for one month, assume their shift duties during one of their special subject classes, like physical education, art or music.

Principal Alice Morrison implemented the system after teachers noted the disruptive intercom was a concern, West said.

Morrison said she thought back to her days as a schoolgirl and remembered how her school had student workers, so she decided to give it a try at McLaurin.

Then West found some unused paddles with foam surfaces at school in the P.E. department at McLaurin and decided they would work perfect for note passing.

Notes informing teachers that students in their classroom need to be checked out of school are tacked onto green paddles, and red paddles are used for other important messages or requests, West said.

While the students get busy helping teachers communicate with administrators, there’s many tasks for them to do in the office.

“They’re always like, ‘Is there anything else I can do?’” West said.

“They love it.”

West said student workers can flash the paddles in the window to let the teacher read it through the glass, cutting disruptions down to a minimum.

“They just go in and hold it —no talking,” West said.

McLaurin secretary Queen McMorris, who calls the paddles “lollipops,” said the system has been helpful around the office.

“It’s much better than the intercom,” McMorris said. “And it’s less walking for me.”

Librarian Gloria Robinson said student workers do work she would normally do herself, like straightening books on the shelves, which gives her time to do other things.

Robinson said the students have been eager to help any way they can.

“Sometimes they’re disappointed when I don’t have anything for them to do,” she said.

Lakeria Armstead said delivering notes on the paddles is her favorite job.

“It’s fun,” she said.

Bradford’s favorite job is shredding paper — a job he said he used to do at his mother’s office until his brother tried shredding a credit card.

West said the experiment with student workers is working well so far.

“There’s a need (for student workers), not only for the teachers but it is also building character and instilling leadership in our students,” West said.