Leading the Charge: A Spotlight on the Ordering Services Department

Walking by the Ordering Services area, you’ll notice red and pink hearts stuck to the plastic dividers for Valentine’s Day, felt leaves draped around their desks in the fall, and a tree standing tall in the corner at Christmas time. For the Superbowl, they’ll rep their teams. On Halloween, they’ll all be in costume.

Spirits stay high on the Ordering Services team, a reminder that despite the immense amount of work the department is responsible for, there is joy to be had in showing up at Visions, working hard for our staff, and serving our families.

“Ordering Services is a department that is unique to Visions and I love the challenges and opportunities that come with that,” explains Melissa Pytlak, Ordering Services Manager. “Ordering Services reviews and processes orders for curriculum, textbooks, [and] supplies, as well as eVouchers and enrichment reimbursements. We ensure that essential items students need are delivered directly to every Visions student. With over 7,000 students in a nine county area, this is a big challenge!”

But the team is dedicated to facing that challenge every day. Despite some hurdles, Ordering Services has continually met their goals and demonstrated unwavering service to our families, and this commitment can be seen in the department’s impressive numbers and the way that they’ve worked together to find success through those challenges.

“We [have] successfully processed 62,000+ orders since the start of the 2023-24 school year,” says Lora Bachinsky, Student Services Representative I. “Our team has shown incredible resilience, navigating through three leadership transitions and integrating a completely new team while training new members.”

Veronica Kane, Student Services Representative II, adds, “The current OS manager and team members are the best I have ever worked with, not only due to their willingness to work together as a team and have each other’s backs, but also by everyone consistently doing their part to ensure we have…strong team cohesion and a positive attitude while we work together to achieve our department and organization goals.”

Senior Director of Operations Michael Brubaker, who oversees the Ordering Services Department, echoes the team’s sentiments of cohesion, strength and resilience. As their director, he has seen firsthand the impact that the team has had on the organization.

“This past year, the OS team (led by Melissa Pytlak) was able to process the highest number of orders that Visions has ever received. Even during the peak ordering season, with thousands of orders in their queue, the members of the team maintained a positive and friendly attitude, while providing excellent service to families, students and teachers. I appreciate each team member’s willingness to complete whatever tasks are needed, often having to switch from one task to another. This team is a vital part of Visions In Education and without them, we could not accomplish our mission to ‘Prepare each student to succeed in a rapidly changing world’. I would like to thank them for their service to our school and the students that we serve.”

Breaking It Down

Although their overall initiatives are the same, each Student Services Representative has specific responsibilities. Lora, May Guida, and Maleesha Grimes work on the Non-Express side, reviewing and processing orders from our curriculum vendors. Randee Ramirez and Katrina Slofkosky work on the Express side, managing orders from Amazon, Staples, and Rainbow Resource and processing eVouchers and enrichment reimbursements. Julie Yoder, better known as the “OS Ninja”, assists both the Express and Non-Express side. Each SSR is also cross-trained, ensuring that the team can effectively divide up their work and provide the highest level of service to our students and families.

“We are here to support our families and staff in any way we can. Our team is fantastic at making sure students are supplied with the tools and resources students need to help further their education,” says Katrina.

Aside from their larger bodies of work, the team also helps families with book returns, answers parent questions, assists our curriculum vendors, and collaborates with other departments to ensure student needs are met. This includes working with leadership from Instruction and Business Services, and even borrowing staff from other departments during their busy season in the summer.

“The flow of orders is very seasonal, with August and September being our busiest months of the year. During peak season, we essentially double the team size by borrowing four to six additional staff from other departments,” explains Melissa. “This requires planning, training, practice sessions, great written documentation, and good reporting. It also means fostering an environment where questions are welcome and team members help each other.”

From Day 1 to 1% Better

The Ordering Services team has had to withstand numerous changes within their department over the past year-and-a-half, including transitions in management, changes in curriculum partners, updates to ordering processes and more. With sound leadership, a commitment to serving our families, and a dedication to becoming 1% better every day, the team has only become stronger.

“I love that we are all willing to go the [extra] mile to provide service that helps us be 1% better with every effort,” says Maleesha.

“The Ordering Services team has really embraced the 1% better every day motto and each team member demonstrates a growth mindset on a regular basis,” adds Melissa. “Even with the day-to-day operations running smoothly there are still plenty of refinements that can be made. Successful process improvement starts with listening carefully and asking the right questions.”

As alluded to, change begins at the top, and the team credits Melissa for not only creating a space where everyone feels free to grow and succeed, but for leading them to success during times that were busy, uncertain, in flux and everything in between.

“With a great manager, a great team follows. Ours has achieved so much in such a short time because each member embodies the cohesive culture we strive for,” shares Lora. “We support each other wholeheartedly, demonstrating loyalty to both our team and manager.”

As Randee says, “it’s all good vibes” in the Ordering Services Department, and from day one, the team truly has maintained a special bond.

“I enjoy coming to work and spending time with my team. They are my second family!” says Julie.

“From my first day on this team, I have felt very supported because of the kind and helpful people I work with,” May adds. “Each team member values the work they do serving families and is always eager to learn and improve.”

“One of the things I noticed on my very first day was that everyone is happy! Like, genuinely happy working here. In my past workplaces this wasn’t always the case,” says Randee. “It’s a breath of fresh air to be here. I’m happy to be a part of the Visions family.”

About the Team, From the Team!

“The Ordering Services Department has wonderful, caring individuals who are great at their jobs and also know how to keep things fun!” – Julie Y.

“The OS team is such a fun place to be! We keep morale high with baked goods, decking our department out for the holidays, and fun themed dress-up days that really help boost everyone’s spirits.” – May G.

“Our team is so amazing and supportive. It is fantastic navigating through issues that I cannot solve on my own because I know I have a team who’s got my back and helps guide me to where I need to go.” – Katrina S.

“My favorite part of working in OS is working with the ladies in the department. We all bring something unique and are super supportive of each other’s growth. We have a lot of fun collaborating and solving OS matters.” – Maleesha G.