A Day in the Life

Juliet Suess

By Ethan Lachmann ’21 and and Allie Landecker ’21
As we continue to try to gauge a better sense of the entire school community, we arrive at the staff members. The staffs’ jobs greatly vary from person to person, but each and every one is essential to the school. Now, fasten your seatbelt as you step into the shoes for a day in the life of the people that make up another imperative part of our community!
Dr. Decker:
Morning: School psychologist Kelly Decker wakes up at 6 a.m. and leaves for school at 7 a.m., arriving around 40 minutes later. Often, her time of arrival changes based on what her schedule has in store for the day.

“We try to be as accommodating as we can be to our parents. So if parents want to meet before school, then I’ll come at 7,” Decker said.

During the car ride to school, Decker said she enjoys listening to podcasts. Decker tries to exercise in the morning, but oftentimes during the week, it is hard for her to do. On the weekends, she exercises right after waking up.
“I like to wake up and exercise, but I can’t do that during the week. If I could do that and then come in later, because I do like teaching first, that would be nice,” Decker said.
Afternoon: Decker teaches first, sixth and seventh period Human Development classes.
“Teaching doesn’t take up as much time as the counseling I do. […] Most of my day is spent either one-on-one if students pop in, or I’m on the phone with parents,” Decker said.
She also speaks to teachers and deans who are worried about students or needing personal help.  Decker leaves at the end of the school day, although she sometimes stays late to meet with parents. She tries to be as accommodating as possible to parents, as she understands that they must also work during the day. If she has no meetings, she leaves at 3:15 p.m. and can usually arrive at home by 4 p.m.
Night:  On her way home, Decker picks up her daughter at around 4 p.m., an action she says she feels lucky to be able to do. When she does get home, she doesn’t have much work.
“[It is] mostly emailing that I’m doing; following up to let [deans] know how a student is doing, if a teacher is concerned about a student, I’ll follow up to let them know I’ve met with them, or I’m going to meet with them. […] My [human development] students don’t email me too much […] because I try to not assign homework,” Decker said.
In previous years, she helped and was responsible for students with learning differences, although this year learning specialist Grace Brown has taken that role.
“Sometimes after hours, if a student is in need of emergency help, then I’ll be talking to parents, but that’s pretty rare,” Decker said.
Mr. Smith:
Morning:  Every day, Middle School Administrative Assistant Tim Smith wakes up at 5:50 a.m. He must arrive at school at 7:30 a.m., 30 minutes before classes start for students and teachers. Smith said his goal is to leave his house by 6:45 a.m. because even the smallest difference in time can affect his arrival time.
“So if I leave any closer to seven, it adds 15-20 minutes more to the drive. So if I can jump on the morning traffic then I can get here around 7:15-ish,” Smith said.
Smith arrives early to school because some of his work is often unforeseen until the morning. Smith said that a large part of his job is reacting to whatever life throws his way.
“Sometimes if a teacher is a sick we have to find a sub,” Smith said.
Afternoon:  Smith does not have a daily routine, as unexpected work can be added on in an instant. As a result, Smith does not have a set lunch period; however, he prefers to eat closer to noon. Regarding his job, Smith also mentioned one very essential aspect of his job that he cannot plan for.
“I like to do my assignments kind of as I get them and keep ahead because there’s always going to be that fire to have to put out, and I’d rather focus my attention where my attention needs to go and not on the daily chores,” Smith said.
Additionally, Smith teaches an eighth grade Human Development class for the remainder of the first semester, and also leads a seventh grade advisory group, which meets once a cycle.
Night:  When nighttime rolls around, Smith tries to leave school by 4 p.m. Many days of the week he must return home quickly in order to prepare and leave for the opera. Smith sings as a member of the chorus for the LA Opera. As a result, his schedule after school ends is often dependent on his rehearsal and performance times.
I like to leave around 4, depends on what’s going on. Sometimes traffic is ugly, [and] sometimes I have to run home so I can get ready to go down and be at the opera. So, it just depends on what my night has instore for me,” Smith said.
On certain weeknights and weekends, Smith sings in the chorus at the LA Opera, which performs at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles. Smith’s schedule at the opera can be unpredictable.
“It depends on the show…so the fall’s been super super busy because we had all three of the shows one after the other, so they were all rehearsing at the same time…Now that one is closing and one is left to go, it is just performances every week, so it’s not that bad,” Smith said.
Mrs. Jones:
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Morning:  Janine Jones, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Associate Director of Admission wakes up at 6 a.m. Her drive to school takes approximately 25 minutes, as she prefers to get to school around 7:45 a.m. because she wants to make sure that her daughter Avery, who is in seventh grade, has 10 to 15 minutes before classes start at. Since Jones does not teach middle school classes, she sometimes goes to the Upper School.
“I usually try to start off my day [at the Middle School] mainly because I want to drive [my daughter] to school, but last year I did not always start my day off here,” Jones said.
Afternoon:  Now that Jones is also the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, she has added responsibilities on top of her role as Associate Director of Admission alongside Associate Director of Admission Oscar Cancio ’04. Although Jones likes to come to the Middle School first, she constantly drives back and forth to the Upper School, as she has many meetings throughout the day. Additionally, Jones focuses a lot of her attention to planning events related to her new position. She planned the Faculty and Staff Professional Growth Day this year. Jones does not have a set lunch period; however, she eats whenever she has free time.
“It depends on the day, I pretty much set my own schedule in terms of meetings. […] On a weekly basis, I probably try to do five or six interviews for the admission office. So those day and times are set in advance, and then I will schedule meetings. So if students want to set up a meeting to talk, I will do that. And I’ve had a number of students reach out to say they want to talk about DEI,” she said.
Nighttime:  Like much of her day, Jones’ schedule for the evening changes daily as she has to consider the pickup time for her younger daughter as she makes her plans.
“Sometimes I’ll set my upper school meetings for the afternoon, so a lot of afternoons I’ll go over to the Upper School and have meetings, so I will leave the middle school campus around 2:30 p.m. or 3 p.m, and then finish up my day over at the Upper School probably around 5 p.m.,” Jones said.
Even though Jones has a lot of work to do during the day, her day does not end when she heads home. Although she is not in the school environment, Jones explained that her night is jam packed with work. However, Jones said she views the weekend as a time to decompress and relax from the busy throes of the week, and she tries to stick to this goal of decompressing.
“I will try to save things for Monday…It’s hard though, cause I see them sitting in my inbox, and I just want to respond to them and just take care of them, but I also recognize the value of decompressing and stepping away from the job,” she said.