Staff Spotlight - Carol Higgins
Every Friday we feature a member of our staff in our Staff Spotlight! This week, we spoke to Junior School Secretary Carol Higgins about her time in Alex.
What interested you in working in a school?
It’s not something that I planned or set out to do, it just sort of happened. I have always worked in offices doing admin, because I decided to do a course right after school in Business and Computer Studies as a filler while I was deciding what I wanted to do in university and I actually realised while doing it that I really like doing admin work because I love organisation and assisting others in their work. It’s probably a good thing that I did it as well because I only decided this year that I wanted to study Psychology!
I had never worked in a school before, but I have always worked with kids and teens in some way, either as part of my job or on a voluntary basis and have done for more than ten years. I previously worked for my church as a Ministry Assistant, which meant that I worked a lot with kids, teens and young adults which I really enjoyed, and I’m still very involved in the church community. When I saw that there was an admin job in a school, where I could continue working with kids, I jumped at the opportunity.
Now, you do so many different things here in the Junior School outside of administrative tasks and answering phones - what exactly do you do?
That is something that I myself am still trying to figure out how to answer, because it is both an office job and very much NOT an office job at the same time. It’s actually the question I’m asked most often by children, as well! So I find myself asking that question a lot. So obviously it comes with the admin aspect, which is computer work, working on the phone and with people, but there are so many weird and wonderful tasks that come up every day that were most definitely not in the job description when I started here. Currently I start my day supervising preschoolers, which is basically sitting on the floor and colouring with three year olds, which I very much look forward to every day. There are things like being a Tidy Classroom judge, or covering a class for a teacher, or playing the ukulele for the kids, or sometimes just being a listening ear and being a friend for them. Also, providing lots, and lots of plasters and ice packs. You would be surprised at how often they are needed. It boils down to working to help ensure that teachers are able to do their jobs efficiently and without hindrance.
Why did you choose to join the Alex community?
It wasn’t a field I’d intended to get into, it just sort of happened. I never actually applied for this job; I got a call from a recruitment agency who had seen my CV and they asked if I’d like to work in a school and I said “Yeah, I do!” I had just finished a job in my church working with kids and I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to do that anymore, so when a job came up in a school soon after where I knew I would get to work with children again, I was delighted to take it. I had never heard of Alexandra College before working here, but I was blown away by how the school is run and by the people in it. They are so generous and loving and caring, not only for the students but for each other as colleagues, which is something you don’t really see a whole lot in the workplace. Being able to work with people who genuinely care for each other and the people around them is something that I think is worth being a part of; being able to work with very talented and skilled people in their profession is also so inspiring.
How have you adapted your work for Covid-19?
I think I’ve been very privileged in my role in that I haven’t had to make many changes in how I do things. I had to work from home for a grand total of two weeks, and I’ve been working in my office nearly the whole time since. There are of course some changes, like wearing masks and installing a perspex screen in the office. The things I miss the most are probably interaction with people; my job is so people-focused, and because the school office is really the central hub of the operations previously there were always comings and goings of teachers, students, parents, in and out all day every day. That doesn’t happen any more, so a lot of communication is over the phone rather than in person. It’s a shame because a big part of the job is relational and building relationships with students and their families and getting to know them, so I do miss that. I also miss the hugs - I don’t get half as many hugs as I used to, which is very sad.
What has been the highlight of your time in Alex so far?
So I don’t think there’s one specific highlight; I think it’s more that there are certain things about my job that are highlights and I always enjoy doing. For instance, I very much enjoy sitting on the floor and being a human climbing frame for three year olds - it’s very enjoyable to be the person that gets to hang out with kids and be a friend to them as part of my job. The thing that I feel most privileged to be able to be part of is seeing kids grow up. I get to be a very small part of a child’s life, from when they’re in preschool all the way up to when they go to secondary school. I get to see these amazing kids grow up and become young women and grow up into these amazing people, and I get to be a part of their school life in some small way. Oh, hang on a second -
(We paused here to bandage a few scrapes from the playground…)
What was I saying? Yeah, I think it’s a great privilege to be able to be a part of kids' lives. Even to be able to get to know so many families is a pretty amazing highlight, especially in a job that I never expected to have.