Office staff prioritizes student needs while keeping school running

Administrative assistant Cindy Murrell helps a caller who contacted the high school office. “I had never been a ‘secretary’ before accepting this position,” Murrell said, “but I had office management, public relations experience, planning and organizational skills from my previous jobs. ”

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From answering phone calls to consoling students, administrative assistants Cindy Murrell and Denise Reno have a very long list of responsibilities.
“[They do] everything; the two secretaries have too many responsibilities to list,” principal Danny Morrison said. “One of their most important jobs has definitely got to be keeping Mr. Wright and myself in line everyday.”
Reno and Murrell have been working at the school for several years, both coming from backgrounds of office management. Reno previously worked at the Benton County Sheriff’s Office before as a secretary and also worked as a paraprofessional at North Elementary school for five years before taking on a position at Warsaw High School in August 2017. Murrell began working at the high school in April 2009 after leaving a job as Director for the Warsaw Parks and Recreation.
“I enjoy helping everyone, no matter if it is learning a new safety protocol, unjamming the copier, learning their phone number, getting a late breakfast, fixing eye glasses & backpacks, sending records for a new start, helping issues that may need a tissue, or just making a requisition for the first time,” administrative assistant Cindy Murrell said. “This job description is so open [and] it is exciting to see what the day to day duties will bring.”
“My main responsibilities [as an administrative assistant] include handling all of our school’s club monies, helping on the paper end of our athletic department, scheduling substitute teachers for our district, enrolling new students, and being a courteous face to staff and students, as well as offering support to our principal and vice principal,” administrative assistant Denise Reno said, “but most importantly, being a gatekeeper of our building by screening visitors before they are allowed to enter our building to ensure everyone’s safety.”
Both assistants decided to apply to the school district for rather similar reasons.
“At the time I had three children attending in the district and they were all involved in activities. I needed a schedule that would allow me to be more involved in not only their activities but their education as well,” Reno said.
“I had recently resigned as the Warsaw Parks and Recreation Director and was taking some time at home with my children,” Murrell said. “After finding out this position was open we thought it would be wise to apply since we always thought it would be a good idea to work in the school district so I would have the same schedule as my kiddos when they started school.”
Just as Murrell enjoys the time she is able to spend with family due to their similar schedule at school, she also spends time with them after school hours.
“[After work] I spend most of my time with my kiddos at their activities, traveling to see out of town family and friends, attend church and I really enjoy working in my flower gardens when the weather is nice and time allows,” Murrell said.
“[The schedule] is a nice thing. She has Mondays off with us, snow days she’s off with us too,” Murrell’s daughter, freshman Ellie Murrell said. “I played on varsity for volleyball, I’m going to do track, I’m a manager for basketball, [so] it is better having the same schedule, it’s really convenient.”
Reno uses her time after work very differently, staying active at a second job among other things.
“When I’m not working, I am working! I work for a company that provides care for children and adults with special needs,” Reno said. “I also clean houses on the side, and when those things aren’t consuming my time, I volunteer as the project graduation chair and work on projects to raise money for the senior class to enjoy a great night of fun one last time [during] the night of graduation. This spring on occasion you can find me at the Truman Lake Opry performing classic country music.”
A large part of their lives are the people that they work with, whether it be students or other staff members.
“My favorite thing about working for the school are the students,” Reno said. “Seeing them come in as a freshman and leave as young adults is really something to watch. We cheer BIG for students in this office every day! Nothing makes me happier than to see students hit a goal, or overcome a challenge they are facing, and realizing they can!”
However, though working with students brings them joy, it is also a very hard thing to watch the students struggle.

The hardest part of my job is watching students not work to their highest potential.”

— Administrative Assistant Denise Reno

“The hardest part of my job is watching students not work to their highest potential. A lot of people would argue that maybe we don’t see students much in the office or wouldn’t know about this type of thing, but we see lots of students when they arrive late, signing in or out for MOFLEX, or have to be sent in for discipline,” Reno said.
Cindy Murrell struggles the most with a more technical aspect of being an administrative assistant.
“I would have to say the hardest part of my job is learning new technology,” Cindy Murrell said. “I am not a quick learner when it comes to technology, but I eventually learn by doing and by plenty of guidance.”
Though their jobs are quite difficult, their hard work does not go unnoticed.
“Mrs. Murrell and Mrs. Reno are absolutely great people to work with. Both of these ladies have a passion for our school and are always putting students first. I couldn’t ask for two better secretaries to have working in our building,” Morrison said.