Katrina James was Strategic Operations Advisor for Secondary and Collegiate Programs with Harlem Children's Zone.
Since my day will be action-packed, I like to take a little time for myself in the morning. I quickly check my work and personal e-mail to see if there’s anything pressing I need to respond to right away. Then I check Facebook to see what’s going on in the lives of my friends and former classmates.
I shower and dress for work. I live in Jersey City, so I take the PATH train and then the subway to work. My commute is 65 minutes. I usually get a seat on the subway, so I spend my commute reading the news on my iPad.
The principal of one of the high schools starts every morning huddling with her teaching, guidance and administrative teams to go over important announcements and reminders to prepare everyone for the day. A staff member resigned before the beginning of the semester, so my supervisor asked me to assist with the college application process for the school’s 54 seniors until a replacement is hired. The principal and I developed a strategic plan and timeline for the college planning process in late September. I spend several hours each day there, managing the execution of the strategic plan. I work with the college consultant and 11th-grade guidance counselor to ensure that every student applies to CUNY, SUNY and private colleges and universities.
I have a quick check-in and status update with the principal and guidance counselor before the school day starts.
A number of seniors have not completed revisions to their personal statements. I meet one-on-one with students to review my comments and feedback on their drafts and discuss next steps for completing their statements.
I discuss the agenda for a weekly college planning meeting and plan for a parent night to update senior parents on the status of the college process.
I walk from the school to my office, which also houses another school.
I meet with my supervisor, the director of development, our CFO and some members of the development team to discuss my revisions to a scholarship proposal. I am responsible for strategy and operations for two high schools, six after-school sites and our college success office, including coordinating scholarships.
Harlem Children’s Zone staff can eat in our cafeteria, so I usually make a salad at our salad bar for lunch, if I remember to eat. I’m often running around so much that I work straight through lunchtime without even noticing. I then take a few minutes to catch up with a colleague.
I meet with the director of quality assurance. She has been at HCZ for more than 20 years and founded our college success office, so she is an amazing source of information about college readiness processes. She was invaluable when I was orienting myself to the group. We discuss the status of CUNY applications at our after-school sites.
I read and respond to email. I update college tracking spreadsheets and task lists, followed by an email to the college planning team with follow-up action items.
I review and comment on personal statements emailed to me from two high school seniors.
I serve on the leadership council at Lawyers for Children, so I leave work a little early to drop off annual appeal letters at their office before it closes.
I head home to Jersey City.
I watch Monday Night Football with the ladies! A group of women who live on my block enjoy a tasty potluck dinner and watch football together every Monday.