It’s been 30 years since Lata’nya A. Littlejohn first assumed duties as a Detroit Public Schools Community District office clerk. She’s seen a lot.
“The students now are different than when I first started, said Littlejohn. “The students need special attention. The parents need special attention.”
The clerical series level IV team member works at East English Village Preparatory Academy located on Detroit’s lower east side. She is an assistant to Principal Charlene Mallory. Littlejohn’s work with DPSCD began in 1987 at Martin Luther King Sr. High School.
How does Littlejohn define her role?
“Make the principal’s job a little easier. Pull information together and make it easier to get to the superintendent, the chief of staff, whoever. Keep things where you can actually work without a lot of chaos.”
Like many support staff, Littlejohn’s duties often go beyond providing clerical services. During portions of the day, she reviews student enrollment applications, writes suspension reports, prepares sign-in log for teachers, answers the phone, manages student transcripts, and tends to foot traffic in the school office. And sometimes it’s going beyond the job description. As Littlejohn describes it, being “Johnny-on-the-spot.”
Littlejohn has worked in several schools including Emerson, Mason and Nolan. She’s also in administrative offices like Schools Center Building and Albert Kahn Building. In each situation, Littlejohn provides professionalism, attention to detail, good customer service and motherly love.
She is a member of the Detroit Association of Educational Office Employees (DAEOE), an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. The local led by Ruby Newbold, its president, is clear about its charge:
“We don’t work in the classroom, but the classroom wouldn’t work without us.
Our members have dedicated years of time, hard work and attention to make sure our schools run efficiently and effectively, and provide high-quality educational services for Detroit’s students and their families.”
Littlejohn offers to students nurturing and counseling. Neither is included in her job description but she doesn’t hesitate to provide tender loving care.
“Communication is a big part of everything,” she points out.
“It helps for the students to know that someone is there for them. Often times, they don’t feel that. I recently said to a student:
‘What is it that you want to be?’
She answered: ‘I don’t know.’
“What point do you start thinking about that? Think about what you want to be doing 10 years from now and 5 years from now. Start reaching for that goal. Talk to your counselor so they can start helping you get the type of classes that you need and the college that you might be interested in.’”