Meet the community: Jorrit Riphagen
Caretaker Jorrit Riphagen joined the school two years ago. Together with Louis de Bruijn and Chris But, Jorrit makes sure the day to day life at the ISUtrecht runs smoothly. He has taken it upon himself to “unveil the mysteries of the caretakers’ daily work”.
By Jorrit Riphagen, caretaker
‘’Good morning! Please wait, we’re letting the cars pass… all clear, off you go!’’. The first moment most of our community sees the caretakers at work is when we are managing the traffic in front of the school. For us this is a lovely moment: most people are very grateful that we are there and we get to see all of you coming into the school.
Before we don our orange visi-vests and walkie-talkies to manage the traffic, however, one of us has had a solid hour of work done already prepping the school for the arrival of staff, students and parents. The first caretaker to arrive at school in the morning does a tour of the school, turns on the lights, checks if the cleaners did their job and gets the coffee machine up and running (very important!) and unloads the dishwashers. We also check the grounds around the school for things that shouldn’t be there, put the trash containers by the road and – of course – get ourselve a well-deserved cup of coffee. Most staff members and a second caretaker will have arrived by the time we start making our way to the crossing in front of the school. ‘’Good morning! Please wait, we’re letting the cars pass… all clear, off you go!’’.
No set plan
When all the students are in class, there is a moment of peace and quiet. We sit in the staffroom for about 15 minutes before we jump into the fray again. We take a breather and a coffee, crack a few jokes and look at what the day ahead has in store for us. We might divide some tasks, but we never make a set plan. Although we have certain things we need to do everyday, our job is mainly reactive. Sure, in the morning and at the end of the day it’s pretty much always the same, but the middle part is where it gets interesting.
Helping people out
When our community is in school the caretakers are exposed to a lot of questions. Staff members might ask us for an extra student chair, or a fresh pack of paper towels. They might also ask us to repair their bike so they can get home at the end of the day or to fix the printer. Students might ask us to fetch their ball from the roof, or if they can get an icepack from the fridge.
You might see why a set schedule wouldn’t work in the caretaker profession. We take care of people and that often requires immediate action. A teacher might not be able to continue class if we don’t help him or her out straight away, and a student might misunderstand the reason why he or she isn’t allowed to do something if we don’t take the time to carefully explain the reason why. Luckily all three of us have quite the care taking nature and and enjoy helping people out.
A special part of our job, is the contact with the youngest members of our community. They are very curious about the things we do and why. One time I found myself explaining to a KG student why he couldn’t help with managing the traffic in the morning. I told him you had to be bigger so you are visible to people in cars, and that you need to be fast in case something goes wrong. Only the find him a few hours later managing the “hallway traffic”. After all he wasn’t too small for that and the traffic wasn’t as dangerous.
Shifting gears constantly, that’s what it’s all about. Sometimes we need to slow down to do something that requires a steady hand or a proper explanation. I haven’t even touched upon the numerous calls we make and receive throughout the day. Believe me it takes time to explain to a certain printer company why we need the black toner now and can’t wait until tomorrow afternoon. And then there are jobs like painting and hanging up frames: if you do that in a hurry you won’t be happy with the result. There are, however, also times we need to accelerate. When a child needs to be taken to the hospital, when there is a big event going on or when we have a fire drill.
All in all, we keep quite busy. And yes, sometimes you see us walking around laughing and seemingly doing nothing. That’s because we also take time to connect with our wonderful community.
Please remember, if you have a question we are always happy to take care of it!