If you’ve ever walked through Sir John Franklin High School, you’ve likely seen Wendy Malkin and Andrea Pellerin holding down the fort at the front office.

Wendy Malkin, left, and Andrea Pellerin say students at Sir John Franklin High School are what keep them coming back to work each morning as administrative assistants. – Kirsten Fenn/NNSL photo

The two administrative assistants are the first points of contact for people coming through the school and the go-to for students who need help with everything from finding Band-Aids to report cards to making appointments.

“Day to day is always different,” said Malkin, who has been at the school for seven years.

“One thing I really love is this is my sister-in-law, so we get to work close together,” she said, gesturing at Pellerin, who joined the staff two years ago. “I love every day. I love coming to work, and that’s hard to find.”

Today is Administrative Professionals Day, which is meant to recognize the hard work admin staff do for their companies and organizations.

And yesterday, Malkin and Pellerin were certainly hard at work.

Throughout their interview with Yellowknifer, a steady stream of phone calls rang through the office, the ladies politely pausing every so often to take the calls, help a student who came into the office with a question, or make sure the morning bell was programmed to go off on time.

Malkin and Pellerin say they feel appreciated by staff and students every day.

According to Pellerin, students often leave little treats on their desks, cards at Christmas, and sometimes entire cakes as thanks after going over and above expectations.

“My favourite part is the kids,” said Malkin, who also coaches the girl’s soccer team. “They’re like an extended family.”

One look at her computer makes that clear.

The border of her screen is covered with dozens of school photos of some of her favourite students, while the wall behind her desk displays the beaming faces of several graduates.

At last year’s graduation ceremony, Pellerin said, several students came up to Malkin to thank her for everything she’d done for them.

The students are what keep her coming back to work every day, too.

While she doesn’t coach sports like Malkin, she’s had opportunities to tag along the volleyball team’s trip to Fort Smith.

“It’s long,” Pellerin said of the drive, “But then you get to know the kids a little bit better after the weekend.”

She added she feels students and staff are grateful for their role in extra-curricular activities and everything else they do.

“It’s more than just answering the phone,” Pellerin said.

In Malkin’s eyes, “it’s like being a mom,” she said, laughing a little as she welled up with happy tears.

“They’re great kids.”