A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Tales From The Attendance Office


 Here at Greenway, we are very fortunate to have a team of four women who make it their mission to make our campus not only welcoming but safe and continue to have a positive influence on each student day-by-day.

It’s amazing how involved and committed these women are to Greenway. If you’re a new student one might find it intimidating being called down to the attendance office, however, in reality, it is a definite promise to be welcomed by four individual ladies that pour their hearts into their job for Greenway’s students.


Ms. Rademacher has been here for seven years and is the lead secretary. “I am assistant to the dean, and I also deal with a lot of detentions, so any consequences for students that are late, have enough tardies, and have to go off campus, I deal with.”

Ms. Peterson started here in 2018. “I deal with a lot of students, answering a lot of phones, writing out tardy slips and keeping up with the absences for students and contacting teachers about students.”

This is Ms. Rivera’s 4th year here and she says she loves it. “I actually started as a counseling secretary midway through my first year,” ‘ There’s a lot of it is interaction and you interact with almost everyone that’s involved in this campus: teachers, students,  parents, and administrators. There’s always a constant interaction that keeps the flow of the day going throughout the school.”

“My kids have gone through here, my daughter is a senior, and my son graduated a few years ago. I used to work at two of the elementary schools that kind of feed into this school, and I live in the neighborhood; I also know the families and the students outside of the school as well as life here on Greenway.”

Ms. Di Meola graduated from Thunderbird and taught math there for 12 years. “I then went back and got my masters degree in curriculum and instruction and administrative education. After having kids I decided to move out of the classroom, and I applied and got hired on here. It has been amazing. I’m really lucky to be here. I love Greenway because the culture is positive here, and the kids are amazing.  I’m happy to be here.”

“My job is different every day, it depends on the situation and how the day goes. Anytime a teacher writes up a student and sends in a referral,  I deal with that student. If students get passed a certain number of tardies or skipped class too many times they come to me. I deal with any situations that students notify me about that I need to go and investigate. I make parent phone calls and talk about how to help students’ be successful as well as evaluate teachers.”

There are a lot of requirements an administrator must follow under the attendance office and expectations to uphold for the students. Workers in the attendance office remain in the office during the remainder of the school day on campus. Students can transition to another period rather than remain at busy work in one placement. Busy work such as tardies calls, scheduling and dress code. 

Ms. Peterson said “it can be very challenging, multitasking more than challenging but besides multitasking, the most challenging thing I’ve had to deal with is having to calm students’ down from having attitudes about being in trouble, but so far it’s been successful in getting students’ to take responsibility for their actions.” ‘My working hours are 7 am to 3:30 pm.”

“Sometimes you get frustrated; when it’s the same kid all the time coming in late and you’re like dude you’re gonna mess up a credit for a class; you just want them to understand that after high school the real world doesn’t work that way, and it’s the kids that don’t seem to care is the  frustrating part that students need to understand it’s the time to start owning what you need to do,” said Ms. Rivera. “But the nice thing about my position is  I can always adjust my time and I could come in earlier.  It’s pretty flexible as far as my schedule is concerned.”

“I think what the most difficult thing for me is the stigma behind being the dean. The workloads can be challenging and getting everything done but it’s a lot of fun,” Di Meola said.

Everyone knows what tardies are, if you’ve ever been late that is. How many tardies are there on an average day? The general consensus seems to range from as small as 6 to as large as 30 in a single day. As far excuses go,  some students’ go to great lengths. Some can be more truthful than others according to these ladies.

Ms. Rademacher said, “that for a tardy it doesn’t matter because unless a parent is called it doesn’t matter what the excuse is.” Ms. Rivera said, “the kids are a little bit more honest than the parents like for example, some parents will say the kids had a doctors appointment or they came in late because of them and then the kids come out and say they just didn’t want to get out of bed. We were kids once too, we’re not stupid.”

As for the dress code, “a lot of times students’ still argue whether they’re skin is showing, but whatever the teacher’s reason is and whatever the administration sees, that’s what we go with.” said Rademacher. Ms. Peterson said, “No excuses, but the funniest thing I’ve heard was I knew I shouldn’t have worn this but I did it anyway.”

“Well, a lot of them just make it seem as if it’s not a big deal like why is it a big deal if my stomach is showing or why is it a big deal if it isn’t two fingers wide. Whether you think it is or not, there are rules and at the end of the day, you got to follow them. You gotta start dressing professionally because once you leave high school, it’s a turning point into adulthood.”

Phones ring constantly in the office, but is it just the parents?

“We have had students that will call in and try to pretend they are the parents, but the staff is pretty good at catching it,” Rademacher told me.

Peterson said, “We have had students’ try to call in and try to check themselves out or have a friend to call them in to get them checked out, especially on Fridays.”

Rivera says she has begun to catch on. “I don’t think kids understand how a voice matures as you get older. We speak to so many parents, so what I do is stall on the phone, look at numbers and tell them to call from the number we have on file. I ask for names and birthdays until the phone hangs up.”

Rademacher said her most interesting experience was “5 years ago, we had a situation where there were 2 students that had words and at one point, one student was jumping over a desk to get away from the other.” As for Ms. Peterson, “It’s interesting from being in the classroom to the office, and a different spectrum of working with the students every day is different.”  Di Meola said, “(the most interesting time was when)  I had to do an investigation (for the first time) and learning how involved that can be and how big a situation can get.”

“I assist with that but for me, a lot of it has to do with giving out consequences for things like classroom violations and not going to an EOP. We also have detentions for twice a week and ISS twice a week, so I have to prepare and get that all set up for that day,” said Rademacher when asked about her usual day.

Peterson describes her day as busy. “There’s something to do every minute and if you’re not dealing with a student in person, you’re doing dealing with something different, like with them getting their attendance cleared in the system, are calling a student down to go home, calling a parent to get students’. It definitely makes the day go by fast.”

In the morning, Ms. Di Meola checks emails and her attendance assistants in the front. “I monitor the outside during lunch. I often make a list so I have things to keep track of. I do lunch duty and then in the afternoon referrals will roll in and I patrol after school. Eventually, I finish a few emails and head home.”

The big question is whether or not these women like their jobs. Rademacher said, “Yes, I do, I really do; I can’t imagine with all the different positions in this office, this department has the most action, and I like being with the students and talking to them.”

“I do, I enjoy staying busy, being in the office, my coworkers, and I enjoy hearing the different stories of students and situations that have happened in the past,” said  Peterson.

Di Meola said, “I love my job, and although sometimes there are days when I’m frustrated because I tend to deal with a lot of negativity, but ultimately I really like it because my job is recognizing mistakes and even though I have to discipline kids for those mistakes but that doesn’t define the students; it just means further growing from there. Anytime I have a conversation with a student regarding behavior and they can recognize a mistake they’ve made, it makes this job worth it. I love teenagers and watching you grow and mature into an adult as awesome.”

Rivera said she loves it and hopes to retire in her seat. “My philosophy is I’m not gonna let you get away with a bunch and walk all over me and even if it’s that stern tough love; I will do it because I don’t know what home is like, but if I could be that person for one of you guys, then I’ll gladly do it.”