Originally published in Castine Patriot, January 4, 2018
New PCS secretary brings years of experience with children
As school secretary, Marty Clark is the new face greeting students, teachers and the community at Penobscot Community School.
by Anne Berleant
A familiar face greeted many Penobscot Community School students from the front office late in November. Marty Clark, who started as school secretary on November 27, had filled in as a substitute teacher at the school for the past two-and-a-half years, worked behind the counter at Northern Bay Market, and ran the Saltwater Farm store that closed last fall. Being at the school feels right at home for Clark, who has plenty of experience with school-age children.
“I started volunteering at my daughters’ elementary school in Rye, New Hampshire,” she recalled. “They needed substitutes so bad that they kept asking if I would sub. ‘I don’t have a college degree,’ I would say and yet they continued to ask until I gave in and took the step.”
Her substitute teaching experience, plus raising two daughters and growing up in “a big family with lots of nieces and nephews,” being a camp counselor, a nanny and “a Girl Scout for decades,” are reflected in Clark’s demeanor as students, teachers and community members enter the building and are greeted by her smile at the front desk.
“It’s just a great environment working at this school, and I hope I make a difference by being here,” she said.
What she likes best about being school secretary, she said, is the school atmosphere of “kids and adults working with kids.”
But as school secretary Clark is seeing an insider perspective on how an elementary school runs.
“The biggest surprise is the business part of it,” she said. “Schools are part of the government and there is a ton of paperwork involved. What I didn’t get [as a substitute teacher] was the ‘glue’ that holds it all together is the business of running the school, with purchase orders, answering the phone while doing a whole list of other things. I just never realized the entire picture.”
Clark’s school day starts early, at 7 a.m. and sometimes earlier—the doors open to students at 7:30 a.m.—“and there’s never a dull moment,” she said. “Interacting with the kids is the best part. I actually enjoy when they come into the office, whether it’s for a Band-aid or just to take a moment and get themselves together because they’re having a tough day.”