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Mentorship at UCDS, Pt. 3

Development Specialist Michelle Wilson brings her third post profiling the use of mentoring relationship at UCDS, this time stepping into the Admission Office. -Ed.


Over the past two weeks, I have discussed the importance of mentoring in the UCDS Resident Teacher Program. I want to move to a different area of the school and shine a light on how administrators at UCDS embrace their role as mentors in the larger independent school community and within the context of their jobs. I spoke with Director of Admission Tami Milles-Atterberry, and Assistant Director of Admission Jane Griffin about their experiences with mentoring at UCDS. Tami has worked at UCDS for 13 years and in that time she has streamlined the UCDS admissions process and gained invaluable insight into the methods of other Seattle area independent schools. Tami is a leader in her field and a member of Puget Sound Independent Schools (PSIS), an admission consortium made up of 12 admission directors from all over the Puget Sound region. As a member of the advisory board, Tami co-chairs the mentorship committee, which focuses on creating mentoring relationships for individuals in the admission field. Admission directors who have held their positions for over 5 years are invited to mentor emerging professionals. Tami explains, “It’s a way for us to share our knowledge about the Seattle region’s [independent school community] and what’s expected of us. We talk about relationships and help guide individuals in the admission field about how to work with their current office/school and how to build relationships outside of their school. I currently mentor two admission directors.”

Working with PSIS not only benefits Tami and the people that she mentors, it has added benefits for the UCDS community as a whole. “Because I’m the chair of this committee, it puts my name in front of lots of admission directors and I have the opportunity to speak at our large annual conference, which is attended by about 50 schools. Being part of PSIS creates a collegial atmosphere and it’s allowed me (and thereby UCDS) to build relationships with our competitor schools, middle schools, and high schools in the area.”

On a more personal level, Tami and Jane spoke about their working relationship and how Tami acted as a mentor to Jane when she first started at UCDS four years ago. Tami explains, “The first two years were about mentorship…teaching Jane all about our community and culture… it was and still is a constant conversation between the two of us, there are so many questions that come up.” Jane adds, “I had a public school background, so coming into [this] new community and culture, it was very different from what I was accustomed to. It was vital to have someone with deep experience like Tami to explain the dynamics to me.” Tami “We recognize as an administration that it takes 2 years to really get to know the school culture here. You need this time to embrace the community and truly understand your job, and that’s when mentorship is so valuable.”