While a Broad Resident, Christina Jordan served as Director of Human Resources at Success Academy Charter Schools.
Success Academy recently completed a reorganization to maximize efficiency, reduce redundancy between departments and map out a strategic plan for the next three years as we plan to grow from 14 to more than 30 schools. During the reorganization, human resources was uncoupled from our recruitment team and joined our legal department, which is now called the school and network advisory team. I’m moving from the recruitment side of the house to report to the chief legal officer and lead the HR function as director of human resources.
I check email on my phone and send responses to anything that can be knocked off the list quickly or requires an urgent response.
I live in downtown Jersey City and catch the PATH train into Manhattan. I love the convenience of living close enough to the city to get in quickly, but far enough out to enjoy some peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle.
I’m starting my day at one of our schools so I get off a stop earlier at 116th street. I use the train time to check my calendar on my phone to view the day’s activities and catch up on reading.
I check in with security and proceed upstairs to our flagship school, which recently won a National Blue Ribbon Award. I head to the main office and connect with the business operations manager to find a location where I can work while I’m here. We’ve planned a school tour this morning for several prospective partner organizations for our internship program. This summer, we’re planning to have 70-80 interns working at the network and/or with our operations teams. The business operations manager provides me with the list of classes she’s arranged for our visitors to observe as well as the logistics for the day. The recruitment assistant who runs our internship program provides me last-minute updates. I won’t be able to stay for the entire event. However, I’ll conduct the opening informational session.
The assistant director of human resources arrives with the recruitment assistant so we can meet briefly. In the reorganization, a member of the HR team was transitioned to join recruitment, so we’re remapping each team member’s responsibilities and items that overlap with the newly formed talent team. We will present this information to the managing director of talent later this morning.
I greet the representatives that have arrived from the prospective partners. I start the tour with an introduction to Success Academy Charter Schools, outline the day’s activities and provide detailed information about our internship program. Then I bow out to finish up with the assistant director of human resources and head back to the network.
I meet with the managing director of talent and the assistant director of human resources for our last weekly meeting. This week, we’re discussing the transition of human resources to the advisory team and how to remove some of the overlap between them and the new talent team, which will focus on recruitment and employee development. Prior to the reorganization, professional development training for network employees was a function of the HR team. The newly formed talent team will now take on development training. However, there are some compliance-related trainings that make sense for HR to continue to manage. The managing director of talent requests a proposal outlining what types of training we foresee being completed by talent.
As I’m transitioning from recruitment to human resources, we also discuss the projects that are on my plate, open searches and the status of the recruitment team.
I catch up on email and grab a few snacks from the office kitchen. I print and review the cover letters and resumes for the phone screens I have scheduled in the afternoon. I’m currently looking for an HR generalist to join our team to manage our payroll process.
I complete two 30-minute phone screens for our open HR generalist position and enter the notes in our system. Unfortunately, neither of the candidates will move forward in the process.
I catch up on email and make an agenda for the recruitment meeting this afternoon. Our recruitment team has been split into two groups. One side handles instructional positions and the other is focused on network and operations.
The recruitment team meets as a group to discuss and assign tasks. We also make a follow-up list of outstanding items that need to be discussed with the managing director of talent or senior management before moving forward. I’ll set up an individual meeting to hand off my projects to the assistant director of recruitment.
I complete an additional phone screen for the HR generalist role and log the interview notes.
The HR team meets weekly to prioritize projects and activities, review the work on each team member’s plate and allocate resources as needed. We also create a game plan for the combined HR and recruitment meeting on Thursday mornings. I have one-on-one meetings with my direct reports. I use this time to check in with the team as a group. Given the reorganization, the team is taking on considerable change rather quickly, so I want to make sure everyone is able to have their concerns addressed openly.
I complete a prep meeting with the assistant director of HR. We have a meeting with the chief legal officer to review each member’s responsibilities, then cover open projects, proposed projects and necessary re-designs related to the reorganization effort. We will also identify our synergies with the advisory team. The advisory team is new to human resources. They have set up meetings with our team over the next few weeks to integrate our departments. I review the draft proposal outlining the split of training between HR and the talent team and submit this to the managing director of talent for review.
I’m pulled into an impromptu meeting with the chief legal officer and the managing director of talent to discuss the proposal. It is approved and we discuss next steps.
I meet with the chief legal officer and other members of the advisory team to present the HR department and outline our work.
I head home for the night!
I arrive at the office a little early today to review the resume of the candidate coming in to interview for a role on my team. Unfortunately, my interview is a no show, but it gives me a chance to begin checking the emails that have already come in this morning.
We recently began a transition to move our payroll system to a new vendor and integrate our benefits and attendance systems. The implementation manager and I review the initial process and completion outlines and discuss changes that still need to be made. We schedule a conference call later this week with the training manager who will walk my team through using the new system to sign up for, schedule and track our individual training plans.
I’m serving as one of two subject-matter experts and project leaders in the configuration of our new human resources information system. I have been meeting with developers for the last couple months. We’re still in the initial development phases, but we need to ensure that the system is set up to seamlessly feed data to the new platforms we’ll be using.
I’m running five minutes late for my weekly meeting with my benefits manager. Last month, we completed the benefits open enrollment process for all employees. We made changes in our benefits plans so all employees had to re-enroll if they wanted to elect benefits coverage. We’ve onboarded over 200 new hires that are also enrolling in benefits.
I invite our new payroll manager into the meeting to review the reports we are using and ensure we’re on track to process the next payroll with all the changes within the deadline.
The assistant director of HR and I meet to discuss the projects on her plate, her priorities over the next week and address any outstanding issues. She briefs me on the presentation our two summer interns will be giving later today and we map out additional projects for our interns over the next few weeks.
A member of our legal advisory team pops into our one-on-one meeting to ask a couple of questions regarding some changes I suggested for a proposal for the COO and CFO. We want to change the deadlines and process for submitting expense reports in a timely manner. I also brief him on the meeting I invited him to attend regarding an employee relations issue.
Two supervisors on our network operations team and I meet to discuss a couple of employee relations issues. We review the specifics in each situation with a member of our advisory team and outline next steps.
I heat up my lunch to eat at my desk. I need to audit the spreadsheets of the new benefits deduction changes before they are sent to our payroll provider for processing. I review the data and our benefits system to ensure the information is accurate and note changes that need to be made. After auditing the data, I send it to our payroll vendor for processing.
I review the proofs of new business cards for everyone in the organization to ensure the changes we requested have gone through and approve the orders to go to production.
I place a call to two of our payroll representatives regarding some employee transfers and other system changes that are not reflecting on our view
of the portal. We walk through the errors on the phone and the changes that need to be made on their side.
My benefits manager sent me additional schools to audit for benefits changes, so I review the spreadsheets before sending them to payroll.
My email is backed up since I’ve been focusing on auditing the benefits spreadsheets. I start to clear the emails that have come into my inbox.
One of our managing directors of schools stops by my desk to inquire about an employee verification request. The managing director sends me a draft directly and I review the document to provide the information needed to complete the request.
I open the HR ticketing system and find that we have received a substantial number of employee inquiries in the past couple hours. The assistant director of human resources and I resolve the issues and clear the tickets from the system.
I meet with our benefits manager to discuss her progress in completing the benefits deductions and expectations for the next day. I connect with my supervisor to provide her a status update.
I meet with my assistant director of HR to discuss the payroll data upload and status of the new benefits deductions. We pull in our new payroll manager to review the process and break out tasks for the next couple of days to ensure we meet all deadlines.
During the meeting, I take a call from a prospective candidate for a role with the organization and answer his questions.
I catch up on emails for the day and work with the assistant director of HR to review several communications that need to be sent in the next couple of days.
I leave the office and hop in a cab home for the evening.
I wake up early this morning to knock out some emails and projects. I complete the configuration questionnaire for a new payroll vendor and send it to our implementation manager. I make a juice and head out for the day.
My Broad Residency coach and I meet for the first time in a couple of months. We discuss my team, the work on my plate and focus goals before our next session. The session seems to fly by. I definitely could have used another hour.
At the network office, I complete two interviews with our network recruitment manager. We decide to advance both candidates.
We have an HR team meeting to review the HR calendar through 2014 and to discuss the upcoming projects and timelines for the next quarter. My team is fairly new to the organization and to education reform in general so I want to give them visibility into the next couple of months, which leads into an extremely busy period for HR. The goal is to help the team plan for upcoming projects and gain a better understanding of how our work ties to the greater organization. In the next few months we’ll move into plan renewal for our benefits plans, open enrollment, partnering with our talent team on the teacher placement process for next year, launching several new systems from a payroll and benefits side, prepping to onboard hundreds of staff and more.
I dial into a cross-team meeting to ensure all departments are properly notified of staffing moves within the organization. They are wrapping up shortly and will include me in a recap going out.
I review our human resources ticketing system to check on the response time for inquiries submitted to the team. I can see the team has responded to all open inquiries and are waiting for responses.
I check in with our payroll manager on her timeline for finalizing payroll. I make a call to one of our insurance carriers about a few employee leaves so we can update payroll and pull reports to capture additional changes.
I interview a temporary-to-permanent candidate who would handle onboarding of new hires. Our onboarding responsibilities expanded as the organization started a few new teaching cohorts. The interview goes well, and I invite her to start the following week.
I try to catch up on emails before heading into a series of weekly one-on-one meetings.
I catch up on email and respond to a payroll vendor. I head home around 8:30 p.m. and login later to clear the day’s slate.
My alarm goes off and I drag myself out of bed this morning. Last week, the new mayor of New York City reversed the city school district’s co-location agreements for three of our schools. Today, all 22 of our schools and our network office will travel to the state capital with parents, scholars, teachers and others to protest this decision and request equity in funding and facilities for public charter schools.
As a crowd control captain for the march, I’ll be outside for most of the day. The weather report shows a high of 25 degrees in Albany, so I put on multiple layers of clothing.
I head out for a 10-minute walk to catch the PATH train to the World Trade Center, where I can pick up the subway to the staff bus location. My hands are already freezing through my gloves, and Albany will be much colder than it is here.
I’m one of the last employees to board the bus. The staff captain asks everyone to try to stay awake for the next 20 minutes during her logistics briefing.
She provides an in-depth overview of the logistics for the day. Most people on the bus fall asleep for the rest of the three-hour trip, including me.
I wake up just as the bus captain is announcing that we’ve arrived in Albany. We pull up to the main entrance to the legislative office building which has an underground walkway that leads to the state capitol building.
I’ve been assigned as a crowd-control captain for the overflow area in front of the state capitol building. The ground is covered with snow and ice, but there is a large construction vehicle shoveling out the area. A truck is setting up a giant sound system so the crowd in this area will be able to hear the speakers from the rally site.
I make my way to the overflow area outside and pull a few marshals to station along this route.
“Charter schools are public schools!” “No Rent!” “Save our schools!” The families and scholars are marching through the overflow area in matching yellow shirts, chanting and holding homemade posters. It’s amazing to see this sea of yellow as the people keep coming and coming and coming. I distribute hand warmers to the scholars and families as well as give many high-fives, hugs and smiles. It’s cold, but the crowd is smiling, cheering and pumped to be marching for this cause. I help the marchers navigate crossing the street and walk down the front side of the capitol to the rally site. We stop the flow when needed so an officer can allow traffic to pass on the road.
The speakers in the overflow area broadcast the parents and various politicians addressing the crowd at the rally site. I’m able to hear Governor Cuomo address the crowd and confirm his support for providing the facilities and funding needed to preserve our schools’ existence. The governor’s appearance was a surprise to many of the parents and families and provided additional hope for changes that might be made following the march.
I stay above ground with buses 1-70 as bus numbers are called out over our radios. I walk around to locate the buses and help people walk through the crowds toward the loading area.
I turn in my radio and headset and head back to the staff bus to take attendance while we wait for the remaining members to board. Lunches and water are loaded on the staff bus so the team can eat. I take attendance to ensure we don’t leave anyone behind.
On the way back, I check out social media on my phone to see pictures of the march and tweets that the parents and staff posted.
Standing outside, walking and shepherding crowds in 20-degree weather has everyone pooped. Most of the bus falls asleep for the trip back to Albany, including me.
We arrive back in Brooklyn. I hop on the subway to head home for the evening.