Reflections on Working in K-12 Human Resources
The start of school may feel like it’s worlds away, but it will be here before you know it. But before back-to-school season comes around the corner, take a moment to reflect on not just what you do to support educators throughout the year, but why you do it.
Need some inspiration? Sit back and hear from your fellow Human Resources professionals from school districts around the country why they do the important work they do, and what’s most rewarding about the job.
“How (or why) did you get into Human Resources in your district?”
What strikes me as I listen to these interviews is the passion that HR professionals in school districts bring to their work. It’s crystal-clear that this is more than a career, more than a 9-5 job — it’s something that brings real value to the field of education by impacting both students and staff. That’s the kind of meaning that makes a job truly fulfilling.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from these interviews:
“I chose Human Resources as my profession because I like to help people…. [it’s] very important that we provide services to our employees, our teachers, our bus drivers, our food service workers, our educational systems. We want to make sure that they can focus on their job, that they can focus on the students while we are in the background taking care of things that may apply to them.” – Jeanine Johnson, Chief Human Resources Officer, Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools
“As a mother and a professional, I’m passionate about ensuring that our kids, and all kids, have every opportunity possible. To do that, they really need to have not only the structures in place for adults to be successful, but the ability to provide services and support for teachers and school leaders so that our kids have a great experience in the classroom every day.” – Deborah Rumbaugh, Executive Director of Human Resources, Highline School District 401
“Really, I think I got into education because I had a great experience myself through elementary school and high school. I had some fantastic teachers, just excellent teachers. They’ve been role models to me, mentors. I still keep in touch with them. They’ve affected my life, and so really that is just a passion that burns with me, that we want to share that and carry that on, and pass that on to our future generations.” – Andy Koenigs, Associate Superintendent of Human Resources, Emporia Unified School District 253
“What’s the most rewarding part of working in K-12 Human Resources?”
In working with people, there are an infinite number of ways to make a positive impact and put a smile on somebody’s face. And in HR in particular, there’s a unique opportunity to be with educators during the most meaningful moments of their career — when they accept their first teaching position, when they participate in professional development that genuinely supports their work, through to retirement when they celebrate a lifetime of teaching and learning.
“I think the most rewarding part of my job is twofold. One of them is every year, when we have a retirement celebration, I get to see people who’ve worked and devoted their careers to the education of kids, and that I know that I’ve had a part in making their lives better, which then in turn makes the lives of kids better… The second thing is, when I get day-to day-involved and I actually get in the classrooms and see kids and see the difference that our staff are making to benefit kids. That’s what makes my life really great and why I get up in the morning.” – Flip Steinour, Human Resources Services Director, Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit #13
“The most rewarding part of my job is hearing a 21-year-old girl scream with the phone held to her chest… ‘Mom, I got my first job! I got my first job!’ And the second most rewarding part of my job is that my kids attend school in our district and seeing them come home and be able to read for the first time.” – Bridget Seemann, Director of Human Resources, Geary County USD 475
“The most rewarding part of my job is helping people. I’m with people at the best parts of their lives, when I find out they get married, or they just had a baby, and we’re helping them with those types of situations. But I’m also with them with the most difficult parts of their lives — they just lost a parent, or they’re dealing with a critical illness for themselves or a family member. If I can take away some of those barriers to get them through that process quicker, they can focus on their family members or get back to focusing on their students if it’s a problem that occurs during the day. That’s the critical piece for me, that they can really focus on what’s important.” – Lindsay Pfister, Director of Human Resources, West Jefferson Hills School District
“My number one goal in work is to support, because I’m in Human Resources, the teachers and specialists and support staff that we hire so that they can have everything they need to do their best work with kids. I want them to feel supported and recognized and valued. Our whole HR office is really about supporting staff so that kids can be well served every day.” – Robyn Bean, Chief Human Resources Officer, Northwest Regional ESD
“Being able to invest in the lives of the people that come into the organization so that they become a better version of themselves, and you’re aiding in that process, is probably what I find most rewarding.” – Robert Vogelaar, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Liberty Public School District
Why do you do what you do? Tell us about the most rewarding part of working in education by tagging @FrontlineEdu on Twitter