By Abby Sandberg PhD, Learning Specialist and Early Elementary Division Head
At a typical elementary school, faculty teach students and admin work behind the scenes to keep the school systems running smoothly. At UCDS, it is sometimes difficult to discern exactly which job title each adult holds. Here, all adults are closely involved in the responsibility of growing students. Each member of the school community benefits when everyone is actively engaged in daily student life.
The administrative staff at UCDS have valuable interactions with students throughout the day. For example, as students arrive at school, members of the Admissions Office and Development Office are on the curb greeting their arrival. During lunch, someone from the Business Office will help a preschooler open their cheese stick. At the same time, a staff member from the Communications Department will be on the playground, helping kids problem solve through recess mishaps. After school, as students cross the street headed to Cross Country practice, they wave and greet the Facilities staff who stop traffic to keep the journey safe. And, of course, let’s not forget how the front desk staff help our Early Elementary students make bookmarks to celebrate their reading growth, or support Elementary students who get bumps and bruises on the playground.
Not only do our Admin staff interact and support students during the daily routines of UCDS, they are also key members of the school’s working committee structure. On these committees, both Faculty and Admin work together in mixed groups to ensure community events unfold without a hitch, the admission application process goes smoothly for prospective families, and the lost and found is organized and advertised to families. A key component of these committees is the work all adults do with our 5th-grade students. Both faculty and admin support our 5th graders as they discover how UCDS functions behind the scenes, and embark on a year-long Service Learning project.
Although the UCDS approach certainly aligns with the philosophy that “many hands make light work,” the reasoning behind including our Admin into these tasks runs much deeper. When all adults are invited to engage with students, their understanding and appreciation of the school mission grows. Everyone witnesses our educational philosophy in action and prioritizes it above all else. Admin see the outcome of their “behind the scenes” work and how it benefits our students. For example, when staff from our IT Department work one-on-one with 5th-grade students to use school technology to document their Service Learning experiences, they see first-hand how their long hours of budgeting, selecting devices, and setting them up has supported students in their educational journeys. It’s not that Admin wouldn’t be invested in the school without this model. It’s simply that this model keeps everyone inspired.