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SAMS secretary is tops

Northern News Services

Inuvik (June 18/04) - For Val Robertson, the most challenging aspect of her job is keeping up with the pace.

"It can be hectic but that's what makes it fun," said Sir Alexander Mackenzie school's administrative assistant between answering telephones. "It's never boring and never the same."

In 1992, the then media research clerk for the Beaufort District Education Council was given a layoff transfer to SAMS elementary. And for the last 12 years, Robertson has put her marvellous memory to good use.

"I know most of the telephone numbers in town by heart, so I don't need a phonebook," said Robertson, who also knows most of the 466 students' names and their parents'.

"I wanted to be an operator, but NorthwesTel closed down its office here after I finished high school."

Though somewhat heartbroken by the turn of events, Robertson is pleased her career path brought her to SAMS.

SAMS principal Bernie MacLean says a good secretary is key for the smooth operation of any school and that Robertson is tops in that department.

"Often she is the first person parents will speak to," he said. "And Val is familiar with the parents and students, which is good. Not to mention she's a great worker who doesn't mind doing extra things."

As for her job title, Robertson refers to herself as an administrative assistant, "But, I don't mind it if they call me the secretary."

When asked if there was a down side to her job, Robertson paused for a moment before replying that she loved what she did.

"I do get a lot of weird excuses for being absent, though."

However, due to the nature of her work she could not elaborate on those. One funny occasion she was able to share involved a box of dry paint and a hot summer's day.

"I didn't realize it was powdered paint and when I opened the box the colours went all over," she said. "So, I spent the whole day walking around with one yellow arm, one black arm and a really pale face. I was teased mercilessly for that one."

For the most part, Robertson keeps a lid on things and helps to run a tight ship at SAMS.