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Human Capital hosts professional development workshop for Orange County Schools office professionals

Jala Davis

Orange County Schools has a calendar packed with professional development opportunities for many groups, from math coaches to assistant principals, even office professionals.

While students were out of school for a teacher workday on Monday, office professionals from all over the district gathered in the Cedar Ridge library for the Orange County Schools Office Professional Workshop hosted by Phyllis Vincent, the district's Human Resource Specialist. 

Vincent is the President of the Orange County Schools Educational Office Professionals, representing district eight of the North Carolina Association of Educational Office Professionals (NCAEOP, which covers Orange County Schools, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Chatham County Schools, Caswell County Schools, Person County Schools, Durham Public Schools and the Alamance Burlington School System. 

Back in March, Vincent and Cultural Arts & CTE Lead Office Support Tami Zubler traveled to Winston-Salem to attend the 73rd Annual NCAEOP State Conference, where they participated in workshops “aimed at equipping our members with valuable skills and knowledge,” Vincent said. 

Gaining knowledge from this conference and the many others she’s attended, Vincent thought to bring what she gained back to our district, giving OCS office professionals professional development opportunities much like other staff members in the district.  

“I wanted to share some of that experience with the OCS office staff,” Vincent said. “I believe that the importance of professional development for office staff offers skills enhancement, the importance of safety, and a sense of belonging and that OCS values growth and development.”

So, that’s what she did! On the Monday, April 29 teacher workday, 20 office professionals gathered at Cedar Ridge for a day full of professional development “geared toward wellness, equity and safety,” she said, in attempts to address physical, mental and emotional needs while also empowering staff to “thrive both personally and professionally.”

After remarks by Superintendent Dr. Danielle Jones, Human Capital professionals provided additional information. 

In the name of wellness, Dr. Jessica Dreher, the Director of Student Support, talked about self-care and being able to take care of oneself in order to take care of others, with her presentation focusing on the mantra, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.”

Up next, Equity Facilitator Kumar Sathy presented Courageous Communication Across Difference as an Office Professional, which examined how office professionals (or really anybody) can engage in tough customer service conversations that are healthy and productive. 

In his presentation, Sathy also introduced leading with curiosity, communicating with care, and being able to conduct conversations that are supportive and beneficial to everyone engaged within them. 

For office professionals, technology is a big part of the job, so four stations had been set up by Instructional Technology and Media Facilitator Erin Bradley and other technology professionals who taught colleagues an array of skills such as how to stay safe online and how to organize your email. 

Wrapping up the presentations for the day, Director of Safety Andrew Poole and School Resource Officer Troy Comar walked through office-related safety measures, to ensure that everyone was up to speed on the most current procedures. 

At this point, it was lunchtime but the day wasn’t over before participants had one more activity for the day; painting. Each person was given a canvas that had a picture drawn on it by none other than Phyllis Vicent herself! 

This time to paint gave everyone the opportunity to bring the staff together and build community, one of Vincent's ultimate goals. 

“Bringing the office staff group together was important to me because a sense of unity among the office staff promotes a supportive and collaborative work environment, which allows for the exchange of ideas and experiences,” Vincent said. 

Monday’s workshop fell in between two office professional recognition days, Administrative Professionals Day (April 24) and National Receptionists Day (May 8), celebrating the hard work and dedication of those who serve our schools on the front lines each and every day.