Paulette Chaffee is a teacher, speech therapist, and attorney deeply involved in the Fullerton community. As an educator and member of various non-profit boards, her focus has always been on providing children with the highest quality education. Ms. Chaffee holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Redlands, a California Lifetime Teaching Credential, and is admitted to the California Bar.
Paulette, Thank you for talking with us. In what ways can a school support a student struggling with mental illness?
There are so many ways schools can support their students. On the ground level, educators should know the warning signs of mental health problems, and there should be a set chain of command of who to inform and what resources are available. In addition, teachers should promote healthy social and emotional development and recognize students who are at risk.
Schools need to create a positive and safe environment; this includes encouraging students to be active and help one another. Finally, there must be increased awareness and education on all levels. Developing and implementing school-based mental health programs is essential while also providing counseling. If a child needs additional assistance, parents should be informed that 504 plans and IEPs (individualized education programs) are available.
How has the spread of the recent Omicron COVID variant affected students, teachers, parents, and other staff?
For a brief time, students and teachers returned to in-person learning; however, the rise in cases due to Omicron has forced many school districts to consider returning to online learning. The schools that want to stay open have difficulty keeping sufficient staff. And although it may seem like online learning is a simple solution, it is more complicated than that. Parents have to make adjustments to their work schedules and childcare. There are concerns of more significant educational disparities when remote. On top of that, many students are falling behind academically, and there has been an increase in emotional and behavioral issues. Many students need the balance of education and extracurriculars like sports, which has become challenging to maintain.
The pandemic has shown us how quickly we can be in the middle of a crisis. What should schools do to prepare for crises that may arise in the future?
The first thing should be to create a crisis response team that responds to major events. This team should create a crisis response plan that outlines who is in the response team and their responsibilities. In addition, it should include protocols on what to do for unique situations and natural disasters. The last part of this plan should consist of how to communicate with outside sources; this includes media, parents, and the community. There should be plans and processes on every level, including school, district, and regional.
How can transparency be created when discussing education budgets with the public?
Implementing a SBB (student-based budgeting) funding system is the first step. It goes by many different names, but this type of funding system is one where the dollars are based on student needs. This type of budgeting relies on three pillars: equity, transparency, and flexibility. To create transparency, it’s crucial that the public has access to the budget and reports and that there are standards in place to maintain the integrity of these documents. In addition, allowing the community to participate in the process creates trust and inclusiveness. When the general public feels like they know what is happening, it can generate quality and accountability in school budgeting.
How can the community get involved in budget decision-making, and how can school districts make this accessible?
Develop a process that allows everyone to be heard before making a major decision. Having open forums for the public to attend to ask questions and voice concerns can be one way of doing this. Also, make an online survey available to give feedback and quick input for the people who cannot participate in a forum. Make sure when developing the budget and other accompanying documents and reports they are “public friendly” and easy to understand. School staff must be prioritized in budget discussions and district communications as many students and parents will likely get their information from staff.
There are a variety of hardships and disparities a student can face. What can schools do to ensure there are resources and support systems for these students to improve equity and inclusion? Should there be resources for parents as well?
There are endless things a school can do to improve equity and inclusion. Start with increasing staff training and reviewing the hiring process to allow equity and inclusion to start at the top with a more diverse staff. In addition, changing procedures is essential, such as eliminating 0s for late work or removing more challenging prerequisites for AP and Honors. More often than not, these procedures adversely impact and create barriers for disadvantaged students to succeed.
On that same note, reviewing the curriculum and making sure it is accessible is critical. Speaking with the students can help schools identify what they need and gaps. This also means identifying and providing systematic help to those falling behind to prevent grade repetition.
Finally, parents and families should be resources because students’ education doesn’t stop when they leave school. Therefore, there needs to be a strong link between home and school, and support should be provided to families who need additional assistance. Also, family engagement should be encouraged and provide ways to close the gap for parents struggling to help their children at home.
Is it essential to provide implicit bias training to teachers and administrators? Could you expand on that?
Yes, but it can’t simply be one session. A school needs to have an overarching plan, and implicit bias training should be integrated. It should review policies, practices, and structures and work to make them as unbiased as possible. There should be reasonable and attainable goals set to address needs and problems and active changes made to reach them. One of the most important things to note in the training is that discussions about bias are difficult for everyone. Provide the tools on how to handle these conversations and manage emotions. This plan also needs to have specified training for teachers, guidance counselors, security, etc.
What are the biggest accessibility challenges you see schools facing, i.e., transportation, access to the internet and technology, etc.?
Concerning transportation, this is where I see some of the most significant challenges. It becomes a complex regulatory landscape for drivers to function between federal and state laws. Funding has been relatively stagnant, which creates various issues. One is environmental harm and safety due to not updating buses and outdated technology. Also, so many more school choices and students not going to their zone schools have created the need for a new bus system. However, lack of funding slows this necessity down. With COVID, there are additional safety, staffing, and funding issues to consider.
Regarding the internet and technology, budget limitations lead to outdated network infrastructures and unreliable or outdated software and devices. As a result, there is a resistance to this change by teachers and typically a lack of training. In addition, there usually needs to be an updated curriculum that integrates these technologies.
Students with disabilities struggle with unique accessibility issues. Physical inaccessibility in schools can make it difficult for students to get around. It isn’t uncommon for there to be a lack of individualization and specialists. Unfortunately, disabilities come with stereotypes and biases from students and staff. Typically, a student must request accommodations, which can be slow, including the dispute process.
An Interview with Jennifer Miree Cope
Described as thorough and organized by her closest associates, Jennifer Miree Cope graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1985 with a degree in Electrical Engineering.
Jennifer has a deep-seated passion for several non-profit organizations. Especially with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which has treated several of her close friends and family members.
Jennifer Miree Cope’s respect for the generosity of nonprofits inspired her to become a volunteer. Currently, she is involved with several charities started by Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama: STAIR tutoring, the Children’s Fresh Air Farm, and Holiday House.
Jennifer’s husband, Pat Cope, is the founder of Cope Private Wealth — a prestigious financial planning firm. When not relaxing with her husband and two sons in Mountain Brook, Jennifer can often be found exercising, walking her dog, or hiking in the mountains of North Carolina.
Jennifer, thank you for doing this. Tell me about your best and worst days at work.
My worst days are the days when we’re busy. You know those days when customers are calling, texting, emailing from early in the morning to late at night. (I can’t help it that it rained that day.) But one of my best days was when we had three very happy clients, two of whom brought me wine!
What are the projects that you most enjoy working on?
Landscaping an empty or nearly empty lot. It’s just like an artist starting with a blank canvas.
What was your biggest ‘a-ha’ moment?
My biggest eureka moment was when I realized that technical drawings such as landscape plans can often be just as pretty as art.
What has been the most important part of your professional journey?
That’s a simple answer. It would have to be time management. There’s simply no way to succeed without it. And I start managing my time well from the beginning – it really starts the minute I wake up in the morning.
What risks is your company facing?
With the economy doing poorly and inflation on the rise, people can always stop landscaping. That’s really the biggest issue here. It is unfortunately a luxury and not a necessity.
What would you do with unlimited resources?
That’s a tough one! I mean, to be honest, there are a lot of things that I would do with unlimited money, and I imagine that’s the same for everyone else too.
But there is one thing that I would prioritize if I had unlimited money: First, I would try to use it to find a cure for cancer. Both of my sisters, my mom, my aunt, and my husband all had cancer. My two sisters died from it. It’s a nasty disease and we need to dedicate more of our resources to fighting against it.
When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?
I would have to say it was the last time I made a needlepoint belt for one of my sons. It can be very easy to find yourself in the zone when you’re engaged in that.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
Yeah, well for exercise, you can usually find me playing golf, doing pilates, or yoga. I often enjoy going out to eat or attending sporting events and musical theater. And I can’t forget that one of my favorite things to do is travel — mostly to our place in the North Carolina mountains.
How do you feel you make a difference in the world?
For me, the number one way to make a difference is tutoring the underprivileged. I have done a lot with STAIR, and I am very proud of that work.
In this interview, Raquel Ureña talks about the second season of ‘NY Never Sleeps’
Raquel, It’s a pleasure talking with you again. Much awaited “NY Never Sleeps” will be rolling out its second season pretty soon. How excited are you about this?
I am really excited. Especially because the participants of this second season are super successful women who are truly inspiring. They are great role models.
Would you like to give a sneak peek into the second season for our audience?
These women of Dominican descent all have successful businesses and they all started with nothing, showing us that if you work hard and remain focused, anything is possible. They are all immigrants and today, have many luxuries due to their hard work. Besides seeing the lifestyles of these women, we will also be seeing a lot of fashionable and trendy, and exclusive places in New York.
When will you start filming?
We will start filming in May and have many plans and exclusive events that we will be attending. We will be showing exclusive restaurants and places that people need to see in NY.
On which platforms, will the second season be available? Also, how many episodes will be there in the second season
There are 13 episodes in the second season and it will be airing on Digital 15 and Telemicro Internacional which is the biggest TV platform in the Dominican Republic. Telemicro Internacional is seen in the US through Comcast cable. The show will be airing towards the end of September. We will be filming all summer.
What are your views on the current status of women in entrepreneurship? especially in the Latina community?
New York is a difficult place to live in and very expensive but these women have proven that even with a humble beginning and hard work, it is possible to get ahead in life.
An Interview with Ali LeMille, Career Coach and Founder of The Job Forge
Ali LeMille is the founder of The Job Forge. Ali has successfully helped a large number of companies find the right set of employees. She has also helped over 70 individuals land their dream jobs.
Ali, Thank you so much for talking with us. Your experience with recruitment is pretty vast. You have also worked with some of the biggest names, helping them in recruitment. Tell us more about your past experience.
I had a rather unusual introduction into the recruiting world. I had started as a hiring manager for local “Mom & Pop” shops in my hometown. The connections I made in the area high schools and colleges are what I was able to tap to quickly fix the staffing situation at the theme park I was brought into with Kodak. I moved into a year-round role and worked between New York, New Jersey, and other locations worldwide.
The companies I worked with were some of the most recognizable brands in the world! The last project I worked on was staffing for the Disney Premiere of The Princess and The Frog in Manhattan. It was in a refurbished nightclub where guests could explore a “bayou” playground, learn to draw from actual Disney animators, and see authentic movie props. It was a fantastic opportunity, and I still maintain close connections with the people I worked with during that time.
I found myself in the healthcare sector after being injured by a patient in the emergency room I had been moonlighting in. This placed me on light duty, where I used my talent acquisition skills to recruit positions for everything from housekeeping to physician assistants.
I then moved into the Non-Profit sector with AmeriCorps and their Reading Partners Program. There I maintained a staff of roughly 500 volunteer tutors. After that, I went into Insurance/Healthcare once again.
Based on your experience, what are some of the things a recruiter looks for in a candidate?
Recruiters worth their salt will be looking at your response times, professionalism, and social presence.
Response times give them an idea of your sense of urgency – which is a massive deal for most positions! Potential employers want to know if you’re going to be a great communicator or if you’re willing to let things go for a minute.
Professionalism comes in how you respond: your grammar, cadence, salutations, and if you’re answering everything they asked or leaving out details they need. A great practice is to run your responses through Grammarly or Hemingway App to catch things you may have missed.
Social Presence is massive, and I’m mainly talking about LinkedIn regarding job hunting. Having a fully optimized LinkedIn profile gives you an enormous edge because it’s social proof that you are who you say you are in your career experience. I’ve seen great resumes hit the trash because the candidate didn’t exist anywhere but on their paper resume.
How and when did you come up with the idea of The Job Forge?
When the pandemic hit, I knew many people who joined the mass resignation and began job hunting. People looking to move their careers into a remote situation quickly realized everyone else had the same idea. My phone started blowing up with questions about what “contract to hire” meant and how to update their resumes quickly. I took care of everyone close to me and then some! I wanted to make this service available to anyone else feeling stuck, so I created The Job Forge. I have the different comprehensive packages on my site, but also some basic gigs on Fiverr as well. I wanted to make it as accessible as possible for as many people as possible.
According to you, what are some of the things that career coaches often miss out on?
That clients don’t have to be some industry big wig to need some help. I see a lot of coaches gearing their work to major hitters, not understanding that there’s a whole population of mid-level players that are hungry to throw their career into high gear.
I’ve worked with RNs looking to make Charge Nurse, Retail Managers wanting to switch industries completely, recent grads trying to get their foothold and start making bank, and parents returning to the workforce after time away to take care of their littles.
Whoever needs coaching should have access to it – and that’s my goal. To make Career Coaching accessible and affordable.
How do you address the gaps in the existing recruitment and career consulting services?
The issue I see happening with current recruiting practices is false barriers to entry for many positions. A great example of this is requiring intensive degrees and forcing employees into the office when it’s not necessary.
I recently attended an Equality Summit where the overwhelming response to “What is the number one thing holding your career back?” was employers requiring higher-level degrees for positions that could also be learned through real-world experience. Many people have spent their lives honing their skills, but they are instantly rejected because an advanced degree was not a pathway for them.
My recruiting approach is working with the employer to narrow down the actual needs to do the job – not what looks good on paper. It’s getting them to understand that an applicant can have the most expensive degree in the world and still not know as much as the person who has spent 20+ years in the industry.
And my Career Consulting service falls in line with that philosophy! Degrees are lovely for specific fields but not required for many others. I want to work with my clients regardless of their educational background. Whatever the barriers are, I want to create a plan for them to succeed!
Though every job has a different set of needs, In your experience, what are some of the most common traits recruiters are looking for in candidates?
I touched on a few earlier, but I can tell you a line that recruiters watch closely: Are you finessing your resume or lying about your abilities? There’s a big difference!
It goes without saying that you should never lie on your resume. Saying you have skills you very definitely don’t will not only get you quickly fired but can also get you a blanket industry ban if the community is small enough.
Finessing? That’s fine! And what I mean by that is, let’s say, you went outside your job description and learned new skills because of it. You can put those on your resume! It’s not lying – You did the work and have the abilities you claim to. Or asking your manager if you can change your title on your resume to reflect more accurately what you did under their employment. Then update your resume accordingly. Your resume is meant to reflect your skills and abilities in the best and most truthful way. And if you need help with that, my services are a click away!
Any suggestions you want to give to first-time job seekers?
Job hunting is a numbers game – especially now when there are many open positions and a ton of applicants. Even when you land an interview, keep applying! Nothing is final until you’re signing contracts accepting the job and have an official start date. Focus on your goals and move forward step-by-step. Clean up your social media, flesh out your LinkedIn profile, and revamp your resume and cover letter.
Oh, and please, please, create a professional email—just your name at Gmail or yahoo or whatever platform you use. Anything else is a potential red flag, and you don’t want to have your CV tossed in the trash for something so quickly addressed. Keep your personal email separate and create one specifically for job hunting.
Lastly, a big trend I am seeing is putting pictures of yourself on your resume. In the US and UK, this can actually really hurt your chances of getting an interview. Many companies will toss resumes with applicant pics on them because they don’t want to be seen as biased.
And if you need help with any of this, reach out to me! I’d love to chat!
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