From the beginning at SA, we’ve made it our mission to create schools where children want to return each day and feel at home in beautiful classrooms — and the SA Operations staff make this vision come to life. Our school and Network Operations teams worked against a near-impossible timeline this summer to ensure all our buildings were ready for the return of in-person learning. No detail was too small, no task too daunting: From installing new contactless hand dryers in the bathrooms, to transforming a former middle school into a collegiate-inspired high school, teams came together to plan, coordinate, and implement back-to-school essentials so that we could welcome families safely and joyfully.
In recognition of all that our Ops members do on behalf of the SA community, we asked three Ops members to share their perspectives on what it means to work in Operations at Success Academy, and what goes into making our schools remarkable. Please join us in a standing ovation for SA Ops!
Operations staff at SA are really the lifeblood of the community. We keep everything together and ensure that the building feels like a school. We have a hand in everything, from organizing uniform drives and spirit days, to putting on different essential events, liaising with the PCEC, and working with the Advocacy team to ensure elected officials can support our communities. When the Network team identifies areas of the school that need to be updated, my team and I make sure everything is cleared away so that they can get in and do the work.
This year I told my team: Remember that our work is like a marathon, not a sprint. We needed to get ourselves mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared to get back into the building, to be able to operate school at full efficiency every day. For me, it was really important to just pace myself over the summer and instill in my team that belief and knowledge that we are truly the foundation of the community here.
One of the best things about being in school Operations is that we get to interact with the scholars outside of class. They tell us funny secrets and stories; sometimes they come to us to vent about whatever challenge they are dealing with. Forming those relationships is a really important and really fun part of the job!
This summer, having a centralized operations management structure was more essential than ever. It allowed us to create unified, detailed, and thoughtful plans and roll them out locally at each school. When the teams returned to their buildings over the summer, it was like things were frozen in time — the classrooms, lockers, hallways, bulletin boards, and cafeterias were virtually untouched and we had just a few short weeks to get them absolutely ready for the first day back. School Ops staff, in partnership with our Network team, worked nonstop to make this happen, from installing backpack hooks and hand sanitizing stations in classrooms, to procuring masks and desk shields, to stocking classrooms with thousands of books. Our school teams distributed and maintained scholar technology for 22,000+ scholars! Additionally, all of our middle and high schools now have high-tech, state-of-the art hybrid technology materials that will let scholars engage in learning at a high level, even while we are offering a remote option. This tech will truly transform our classrooms.
The greatest thing about being part of SA Operations is the camaraderie and overall team dynamic — everyone is ready to go to bat for one another. This is a caring, nurturing, determined, and truly ambitious group of people!
In Ops, we leave no stone unturned. There is so much thought and preparation that goes into the making of our schools, requiring constant collaboration across departments. This year, collaboration was more important than ever before: We worked with the Technology team to install all of our remote learning live-stream tools in MS and HS classrooms. Procurement made sure we had all the PPE ordered, distributed, and installed in schools. The Creative Agency helped design beautiful hallway features in our new high school. The School Management Office (SMO) team helped inform us of the spacing needs for each classroom. Whenever we need to update a room or a part of a school, it’s the school’s Operations team that goes in and clears all the furniture and items for us so that we can get to work — and then they put it all back!
We did major renovations on 15 schools, opened SA Ozone Park, and transformed one of our existing middle schools into a brand new high school — adding study and hangout spaces in the hallways, digital screens for announcements, and collegiate-themed decorations. We’re also in the process of adding three much-needed outdoor spaces for SA Washington Heights. We even installed more sinks for handwashing!
Through all the challenges of working on such a tight timeframe and with such urgency, it helps to know that we share a common cause — it’s the teamwork that’s the best part of the job. Each hurdle we overcome together sets us up to make future years even better.
Pictured above: The dream team at SA Myrtle Middle School