Difference-Maker: Jenna Pirani '85

Posted by Kelly Emerson - 18 May, 2018

IMG_4894.jpgWe have a number of Randolph employees whose roles are unique to our school and whose work makes a difference to the quality of the student experience. Registrar and member of the college counseling team Jenna Pirani '85 is one of Randolph's Difference-Makers. 

What do you do? 

I’m the Registrar for K-12 and I also support the Upper School College Counseling Office.

At school, I’m never without …

 A dark chocolate candy bar in my desk.

What’s different about your work here?

Randolph provides a great working environment. Colleagues are friendly and supportive, and the students are diverse and engaging. Coming to work is much nicer when you can look forward to a warm and inclusive atmosphere every day.

When you tell people what you do, what kinds of things do they ask?

They most often ask if it’s difficult to keep up with all the records, applications, transcripts and paperwork in general. I love organizing at any level, so I actually enjoy creating files and systems to work with these details. Fortunately, I also get to interact with students, teachers and parents in my job, so I’m not hidden in a world of data management.

What’s your philosophy of working with the age group of kids you work with? 

I work with Upper School students, particularly seniors, who are transitioning to college and greater independence. It is important to treat them as the growing adults they are, but recognize that they still need reminders and encouragement to meet expectations.

Our senior privilege program really helps in this area. Each senior can earn the freedom to leave campus during his or her free period by meeting academic standards, administrative deadlines for forms and other requirements, and good behavior in general. Managing these expectations can be challenging for the students, but it gives them great practice for life in college while rewarding their efforts with extra independence now!

Supporting students during the college admissions process is another rewarding aspect of my work. The College Counseling office engages directly with the students during the college search, so expectations are placed on the juniors and seniors to fulfill related requirements. In this way, Randolph students are once again trusted to meet expectations, but within a supportive environment of accessible adults who care about them.

What does a child need to be happy/successful at school?

An older student needs an environment of structure and support, as well as earned independence. It is important that classes be challenging so that students learn not only interesting material, but also learn how to study and process the information. Students thrive in an atmosphere of social acceptance as well, which allows them to truly “be themselves” among their teachers and peers. Finally, they need supportive relationships with adults, including faculty and staff. In my opinion, Randolph meets these essential needs on a regular basis.

Describe a great day at work

A great day at work would start with a quick chat with colleagues and drinking my morning coffee while answering email. It would also include visits from students who might need a transcript, a question answered, or want to announce a college acceptance. I’d answer questions from parents, and hopefully provide something that makes their lives easier. It always makes my day when I can troubleshoot a problem or finish a big project. Lunch would be the Nacho Bar, and my friends from the Drake campus would come over to eat with me. It would also be a Monday, which includes Deidre’s yoga class on the Drake campus after work.

What are some things you love about your job?

I actually do enjoy office work, but have the privilege of doing it among students, which makes it more fun. Planning graduation is especially rewarding, since it is such an exciting time for the seniors and their families. I also love working with educators, as they are interesting and intelligent colleagues. I couldn’t ask for a better environment in which to work.

Commencement - 3917441

Favorite school tradition?

My favorite school tradition is the unique distribution of diplomas at the graduation ceremony. Instead of the typical alphabetical lineup, seniors are called to receive their diplomas in completely random order. The excitement builds as Mr. Liese pulls each diploma from the stack, mixing them up every so often, until the final two seniors are left standing in place. Everyone is paying attention, since – off the record – there MIGHT be some bets going on. It is a memorable moment when the final senior is called and leads the graduating class in turning the tassels.

Best time of the school year and why?

Commencement - 3784933 (1)Although it is very hectic for me, I still love graduation and the year-end events leading up to it.

We celebrate several great traditions during this time, including the seniors’ infamous run through the hallways on their final day of classes, the senior dinner and slideshow, and the senior breakfast at which they wear their college t-shirts and receive books inscribed by their teachers.

Time after time, I think about how much the seniors have grown and changed from their freshman year, and I feel honored to have had a part in preparing them for the next step.

Where can you be found most days?

My home away from home is in the College Counseling office on the Garth campus, and the door is always open!

Read more about the other members of the College Counseling Office, Rusty Allen and Jessica Forinash.

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Topics: college counseling, graduation, Upper School, Commencement, Randolph alumni, difference maker

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