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    • Julie Roberge, above, works as the Assistant to the Junior School in her office next to the Thompson Hall atrium. (photo: Juliette Verlaque)

The Real Campus Power: Administrative Assistants

Juliette Verlaque '16, Features Editor
From the White House to Hollywood, powerful people and institutions are supported by a group of dedicated people behind-the-scenes, and Hopkins School is no different. The Administrative Assistant Team ensures that The Hill’s community runs as it should, organizing A.P. Exams, daily attendance rosters, and everything in between.  Their efforts impact the daily lives of Hopkins students, faculty, staff, and parents.
Baldwin Hall is home to the assistants behind many of The Hill’s top administrators. These assistants work closely with their respective bosses, organizing their schedules and setting up appointments. 
After eight years of working in education, Assistant to the Head of School Ellie Stewart ’02 returned to Hopkins in 2014, joining her husband, Science Department Chair Philip Stewart. She initially worked in the Development Office, but became Barbara Riley’s assistant this past summer after Barbara Hanscom’s retirement. “I set up lots of meetings and appointments for Ms. Riley and figure out how to fit them into her very busy schedule,” Stewart explained. “Some of my other responsibilities include putting together materials for Board meetings, helping with communications, and making travel arrangement.”

Helen Racowski, who works with Assistant Head of School John Roberts and Dean of Faculty Carla MacMullen, joined the Administrative Assistant Team in November, 2015. “I had heard again and again over the years after I had moved to Connecticut what a fine school it is, and was intrigued when I had seen an opening which seemed to be a good match for my skill set,” Racowski recalled. “Since I am assistant to both Mr. [John] Roberts and Mrs. [Carla] MacMullen, my days can be very varied and are filled with things like reserving rooms and arranging food for all onsite events, preparing visit schedules for open faculty position candidates, assigning parking spaces, preparing financial aid letters and many other different tasks.”

Elaine Plante began working at Hopkins in July 2013, joining her husband, Director of Technology DJ Plante, on The Hill. She serves as Assistant to the Dean of Academics and the School Scheduler. “Mr. [David] Harpin and Mr. [Kevin] Hart are both amazing – they are great to work for and we laugh a lot,” Plante said. “The most challenging part of my job is organizing the Term Exams and A.P. Exams. It can be overwhelming at times!” 

Since 2005, Gena Eggert has worked in the Admissions Office as Assistant to Director of Admission Pamela McKenna. Eggert is an essential member of the Admissions Team throughout the entire application process; she responds to the inquiries of prospective families, processes applications, sets up interviews and shadow days, and gathers statistical data for McKenna. “My biggest challenge is to process almost 500 decision letters for each family that has submitted an application to Hopkins,” Eggert said. “My favorite memory is the same one every year – the moment the mailing is complete and heading to the post office.” 

The office of the Registrar and Administrative Assistant to College Counseling, otherwise known as Elizabeth Edwards, can be found on the second floor of Hopkins House. Edwards began working at Hopkins in 2004, applying to the job at the suggestion of a family friend. Her responsibilities include setting up college counseling appointments, answering to phone calls and emails, and handling student transcripts. “Here in College Counseling we are working with a group of students who are highly motivated and, at the same time, a bit anxious,” remarked Edwards. “I do my best to be encouraging and offer an inviting place for students - candy included!”

The Head Advisors of the Junior School and the High School work closely with Julie Roberge and Kristen Wich. Roberge, who serves as the Assistant to the Junior School, began working at August in 2004. “I thought I could put the skills I’d developed as an HR director to use with a slightly younger client group,” Roberge joked. “It’s been a perfect fit.” Her daily responsibilities include entering attendance each morning and providing the famed Junior School snack, but she stressed that there is no typical day: “For me, that daily challenge could be something as mundane as chasing all over campus trying to locate a ‘lost’ backpack, or as crucial as getting a suddenly ill student the help she/he needs, or anything in between. Being a valued part of an effort like this is truly satisfying.”

Over in Heath Commons, Kristen Wich serves as the Assistant to the Head Advisors of Grades 9 to 12. Wich joined her husband, history teacher Scott Wich and her mother-in-law, legendary Choral Director emeritus JoAnn Wich at Hopkins in 2007, and started out in the Development Office before moving to her current post two years later. “I wanted to get to know more students and really understand student life at Hopkins, so my favorite memory is the first time a student came to me with a problem that they asked me to help solve - that felt really good and reaffirming,” Wich said. “I also love the location of my office - it is hard to have a bad day when you are surrounded by so much energy and laughter and conversation.” 

The assistants and staff who help run Hopkins are often less visible than the colleagues and offices they support, but their work is essential to maintaining the Hopkins clockwork. “My job is always interesting because it gives me a chance to get an inside look at what it really takes to run a school,” Stewart concluded. “I love working right in the heart of Baldwin where I get to see and talk to so many members of our school’s community.” Wich added, “There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes and I have a lot of respect for my Administrative Assistant colleagues. The amount of organization that it takes to do these jobs is staggering - I don’t think people always appreciate that skill!”
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The Razor's Edge reflects the opinion of 4/5 of the editorial board and will not be signed. The Razor welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to decide which letters to publish, and to edit letters for space reasons. Unsigned letters will not be published, but names may be withheld on request. Letters are subject to the same libel laws as articles. The views expressed in letters are not necessarily those of the editorial board.
     
The Razor,
 an open forum publication, is published monthly during the school year by students of: 
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