Showing Up for Staff and Students: A Spotlight on the Instructional Support Team
“Over the past 23 years, which all seem like a few blinks of an eye, I have witnessed our student population grow from 100 to nearly 7,000 students. Over the years, every staff member at Visions, regardless of credentials or classification, has contributed to the school’s success. Each year when students cross the stage at graduation, I am reminded of the reason Visions came to be. Visions’ founder worked on the Attendance Review Board, and she wanted an alternative to traditional and continuation schools. She felt too many students were slipping through the cracks and dropping out of high school. I wholeheartedly believe that she would be ecstatic knowing how many students’ lives we have positively impacted over the years and would be pleased with the direction that Dr. Olmos is steering us. I hope to hear about the success of Visions for many more years to come.” – Nancy Legalsi, Administrative Assistant to Sarah McFarland, Director of Instruction for the Independent Study and University Prep Academies and Mariah Ernst-Collins, Counseling Manager and 23-year Visionary!
There is always so much happening here at Visions. From PLC conferences to PD days to in-person events, there are a plethora of opportunities made available to both our staff and our students. Behind every occasion is a member of our instructional support team, which includes Charter School Secretaries, Administrative Assistants and Office Coordinators. As true support staff does, this team works tirelessly behind the scenes to make each and every one of our Visions events come together beautifully.
“I help with Find Your Voice, graduation, clubs, dances, curriculum fairs and the Project and Performance Fair as needed. I plan 8th grade promotions, all Home School field trips, weekly regional events, TK community events, facility layouts and [I] continuously work with LPAD, families and vendors,” explains Christina Jonsson, Charter School Secretary for the Home School Academy and a member of our amazing Events team. “The best part [about] working events is [that] my principals trust my creativity, and my work days are a blend of moving and grooving and screen time.”
“In my role as…Administrative Assistant, I support the Director of Student Services, Matt Patterson and Jamee Block, our EL Coordinator,” shares Angelica Gallardo. “I’m also responsible for coordinating all aspects of graduation, from grad checkouts to the actual graduation day ceremony.”
Not only does a majority of the group plan these events, they also attend them, working with other Visions staff and interacting with students and families. In these moments, they are able to see their hard work come to fruition and how all of their efforts truly serve our students.
“Seeing our students at our events is honestly the highlight of my job. There is nothing like seeing them socialize and find new friendships in person!” says Mariana Rivera, Charter School Secretary for the Independent Study and University Prep Academies and another member of our Events team. “Seeing the dances and events all come together…reminds me why I choose to do what I do.”
“I’ve…been able to witness first-hand why we do what we do,” echoes Georgina Rios, Administrative Assistant to Dr. Micah Studer, Chief Academic Officer. “All the student engagement, whether it be at a dance or graduation, seeing their joy brings so much happiness to me.”
Behind the Scenes
Aside from event work, this group is also responsible for a high volume of administrative work, including scheduling meetings, creating agendas and presentations, coordinating conferences, tracking spending, processing reimbursements, preparing legal documentation and more.
“As a Secretary to the Special Education Department, I have a mix of various responsibilities pertaining to assisting all levels of staff in our department,” says Hannah Blackledge. “I help our Special Education Teachers with connecting to our NPA Service Providers, helping them find the perfect fit for our families. I work with our Administrative Assistant, Yesenia, in keeping our student information regarding services and providers up-to-date. I also perform various updates and tasks for our management team to keep our processes clear and efficient.”
Lyubov Rusu-Carp, Office Coordinator II for the SPED Department, emphasizes the amount of the work done with student records, including requesting, receiving, processing and archiving documentation. In this department especially, there is a student-centered aspect of their workload, which makes the duties of this support team even more necessary.
“My responsibilities…include preparing contracts, processing ISAs to start services for our students, ordering supplies and testing materials, and providing parents with general information when needed. I ensure all the students’ services are in order and set per their case manager’s direction,” explains Yesenia Gonzalez, Administrative Assistant for the SPED Department. “Our department services all students from TK all the way to age 22 if they have an active IEP, while providing support to their individual needs.”
Lindsey Nance, who is new to Visions and still getting settled in her role as Charter School Secretary for the Independent Study and University Prep Academies, is grateful for the way that this support team is able to lean on one another for success, regardless of role.
“Everyone at Visions has made my transition so smooth and memorable,” she says. “Everyone I’ve met, either face to face or via email, has been extremely welcoming and helpful. I feel like that is the best part so far. The staff!!”
The work that the instructional support team does has lasting impacts, and is crucial to the success of the organization. In this space, no small task is insignificant, and the members of this team truly keep Visions going.
“What people need to know is that our secretaries and assistants provide an exponential benefit to the organization. Their ability to organize the multitude of events, meetings, due dates and details allows us to show up as our best selves and stay focused,” says Dr. Micah Studer, Chief Academic Officer.
“I am so thankful for the outstanding support and dedication provided by the instructional support staff,” adds Jennifer Morrison, Director of Instruction for the Home School Academy. “Their tireless efforts, attention to detail and commitment to excellence have not gone unnoticed. In every task, whether it is administrative assistance, organizing schedules, communicating with staff and families or handling day-to-day operations, their professionalism and efficiency have consistently shone through. Their contributions have been integral to the smooth functioning of our team, and I am truly grateful for the positive impact they have made.”