A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life

Patti Balbas

Patti Balbas
The Broad Residency Class of 2016-2018

Placement Organization:
LEARN Charter School Network

Assistant Director, Marketing & Communications Manager

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  • Jan


    7:00 a.m.

    I get out of bed feeling ready to tackle the day. I get ready quickly, let my dog out and head off to work.

    8:30 a.m.

    I say good morning to my team and head to my desk. I have an email from the chief executive officer requesting a presentation for an upcoming meeting with a big donor. He broadly outlines what he wants to accomplish with the presentation.

    10:30 a.m.

    I email the data team to let them know that I’ll need a lot of information from them for this presentation over the coming weeks. We have a meeting later today, so I will elaborate then. I start thinking about what we want to share with this donor and create an outline for the deck.

    I never really eat lunch, so I power through and answer some emails.

    I set up a call with a prospective website vendor experienced with other charters and districts. Each school should be able to update their own web sites, send alerts to parents and give teachers the ability to set up classroom pages.

    1:30 p.m.

    During my meeting with the data team, we discuss the needs for the donor meeting presentation. After the meeting, I head back to my computer. I get an email from the Illinois Network of Charter Schools letting me know that the first draft of a presentation I will be giving at their conference next month is due next week. I start adding some final touches.

    3:30 p.m.

    I am heading up a rebrand for LEARN. I send an email to our branding agency to check on the progress of our new brand book. It looks like it won’t be ready for the holiday party as I hoped. I wanted to give them to all staff as a gift, but it will have to wait until next year.

    6:30 p.m.

    The school in which we are located has a hard security stop at 6:30 p.m. I go home, cook dinner and answer a few more emails before catching a movie on TV and going to sleep.

  • Mar


    6:30 a.m.

    I wake up energized to go to the office. My scope of work now includes heading up enrollment. This means I have the same amount of time in a day but a lot more focus on our enrollment strategy.

    8:00 a.m.

    I arrive at work. I’m one of the first ones in the office, so I can get a lot done before the emails start pouring in.

    I have gathered data on our community to build a model that will help me determine reasonable enrollment targets. This is the first time LEARN has used a model for enrollment, so I want to make sure I get it right. I start projecting the number of scholars for each school, by grade, for next year, but it will take me a couple of days to finish the entire network.

    10:30 a.m.

    I changed the enrollment process and removed a question that parents have been asked in the past: whether they intend to return the following year. Those answers helped us decide how many seats to make available for the yearly lottery. Families would officially re-enroll after the lottery. This year, I decided to start re-enrollment immediately for current students and skip asking the question. This way, we have a much more accurate view of who will return next year and we removed a step for parents.

    I still never really eat lunch, so today I power through and answer some emails.

    The enrollment hotline is ringing off the hook and the email box is overflowing! No one asks about the missing “intent to return” question. Instead, it’s mostly questions about re-enrollment deadlines and technical issues.

    Then the enrollment system has a glitch that results in 1,500 scholars out of 4,100 being put into kindergarten in one school. The parent calls turn to confusion and frustration. In response, we send out an email and text blast to all affected families.

    1:30 p.m.

    I continue to monitor the situation with our enrollment system and work with the vendor to get it resolved.

    I follow up with the agency on rebrand work we’re doing. The first presentation to our leadership team couldn’t have gone better. Everyone loved our brand story and the new logo options. I was excited, but now I need to push the project forward. I call the agency to give feedback and talk through next steps.

    Our leadership team also approved changing our website. However, the terms and conditions for our contract are still being reviewed by our lawyers. I send an email to the chief financial officer for a status update so I can update our website vendor.

    3:30 p.m.

    I continue to work with the enrollment software vendor to rectify the earlier error, but the issue is still affecting our numbers. This fire drill has taken up most of my day.

    I make flyers for each school with open house dates, order more promotional materials and keep our office managers up to date on the software glitch.

    6:30 p.m.

    I head out for the day. But once home, I continue to respond to parent emails in the enrollment mailbox.