The Office: Frontline
Jennifer Giarritta describes her experiences at MVHS from the front desk.
The high school experience is a whirlwind for some and a slow trudge for others. In lapses of nostalgia, seniors recollect their freshmen year as a blur, a culmination of fluctuating grades, a reminiscence of teachers’ and friends’ faces. Occasionally, there are the miscellaneous, but vivid tidbits: one’s disdain for the whole-wheat pizza crust or the mortifying slip-and-fall near the stairs of the B Building. Sometimes we remember the staff behind-the-scenes of MVHS, those who are, rather ironically, situated in the front office.
Students typically encounter Senior Clerical Assistant Jennifer Giarritta in the midst of clearing a tardy, but Giarritta oversees a wide variety of secretarial tasks: the regulation of substitute teachers, updates of the daily bulletin, timesheets for the entire school and more. In her own humorous take, her job is essentially being “constantly interrupted”: whether it be a staff member borrowing a box of tissues or emails from teachers, Giarritta is constantly occupied with task after task. Throughout the interview, she receives continuous phone calls from her daughter and supervisor, chuckling all the while.
“Some days can be very stressful, but I really do enjoy it,” Giarritta said. “I like the busyness [because] I don’t like [having] a boring job. But this is a lot of fun [and] what I like about it is that it is very social, and I am a very social person.”
Giarritta isn’t the sole individual manning the front lines of the office. She has her own TA’s — whom she refers to as “student ambassadors” — who help her deliver office slips and take on other miscellaneous tasks. Regardless of the extra help, Giarritta always needs an essential boost of energy from her morning coffee.
“My motto is coffee, coffee, coffee,” Giarritta said. “[And I] gotta have half and half and so [it’s a] really big thing for me. It gets my day going.”
Her motto especially applies to the end of the year, which she believes is especially intense for both students and staff: despite being exhausted, they still desire to round off the school year well. It’s quite a scramble for Giarritta to make sure everything is set and ready for the day, but she has grown accustomed to it over her past two years at MVHS. If she is overwhelmed by her work, Giarritta makes sure to take a walk around the school campus to refresh herself.
“Maybe [I’ll] have a little prayer to help me,” Giarritta said, “I try to remember that when people [sometimes] can be annoying that all people are made in the image of God and to be kind and loving to them.”
While it is Giarritta’s third year at MVHS, she was previously a substitute receptionist at the Santa Clara County Office of Education and at middle schools and elementary schools in the Cupertino Union School District and Sunnyvale School District.
“The elementary kids are the cutest and they are so sweet,” Giarritta said. “Just every time a little one walks in and then you go like, ‘Aww you’re so cute.’ I mean in your mind you say it, but yeah.”
Giarritta may find the elementary kids especially adorable, but she appreciates the honorable and trustworthy personalities of MVHS students and refers to a student who brought in money she found lying around on Club Grub Day.
Giarritta ultimately characterizes the overall MVHS student as studious, honest and spirited. She considers herself very spirited and absolutely loves the rallies in the gym, recalling how she laughed the whole time at her first rally simply because it was entertaining. Being able to experience the high school festivities along with the MVHS students adds to the love she has for her job.
“I love my job because of the people here,” Giarritta said. “[The] teachers are very, very kind to me and I have a wonderful boss, or supervisor as you would say, and I’m pretty happy.”
Take a sneak peek of the action behind the frontlines.
Senior Clerical Assistant Jennifer Giarritta's nameplate and her two potted plants. Students often approach Giarritta for tardy slips, and staff members often stop by asking for a box of tissues or school supplies. Photo by Katerina Pappas.
Senior Clerical Assistant Jennifer Giarritta flashes a smile at the camera. Giarritta was especially busy, because many teachers were absent and substitutes brought in. Photo by Katerina Pappas.
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