If there are two staff members that every Renaissance parent has come in contact with, it is certainly our front office staff members, Sheila and Andrea. Being at the very front of the school means they are every student’s, parent’s, and community member’s first point of contact with Renaissance...and we are fortunate that both Sheila and Andrea are passionate about their role in making sure the school day and all the administrative details that go along with that run smoothly, efficiently, and with a warm smile. Like most schools, the front office is the heart of the building, a constant buzz of movement. In just the short amount of time I was there to interview Andrea and Sheila they both were attending to multiple children in and out of the health room, a couple of students who needed a short cool-down break in the main office, two separate deliveries, parent volunteers checking in and out, and many phone calls coming in. Behind the daily and ever-changing hustle and bustle of the front office, Sheila and Andrea are masters of all the tasks needed to be completed to make the school run. It is certainly true that in every school every single staff member plays an important role in the education, safety, and well being of our children.
It almost seems like from a small child, Andrea’s path would lead her straight to Renaissance! Andrea is a first generation American, born to German parents in Detroit. While her dad started his time in the United States as an urban planning architect and teacher at Wayne State College, he and Andrea’s mother soon left the urban life, bought a bus, converted the bus to an RV and traveled around the country. As a small child Andrea and her family eventually landed in a small budding community, Libre, in Southern Colorado based off the recommendation of artists they had met in New York. “We came, fell in love, and stayed. Ultimately I grew up in a hippie community. It was a group that realized that the communes weren’t sustainable for long periods of time but taking some of that philosophy and the philosophy of Native Americans of communal living and non-ownership of land they built this community where each person had to build their own home but a lot of other things were still communal. We would share cars, we would go to the grocery store together, we had a lot of gatherings and get-togethers and did many other social things together. As a child it was amazing, it was a childhood really enriched in Native American culture. We always had a lot of other kids around us. We would go over to Peonia in the summer to pick the fruit to keep and bring most of the fruit home to can it in order to have enough through the winters. We would go tree planting to make money. Most people in the community were artists. There was an elementary school that went K-8th. My dad eventually built an addition to the school that housed the older children. I went to high school in Walsenberg, an hours drive away. I caught the bus each morning at 6am. We had four day weeks and we’d ski on Friday at the local resort. After high school I spent five months traveling and visiting family in Germany. I had a short au pair job for a German family that proved to be an interesting experience. When I came back to Denver I nannied and attended CU Denver and then finished at Metro State and graduated with a degree in Behavioral Science with a focus in Psychology and a minor in Elementary Education.” During that time Andrea met her future husband, Steve, who would take her to Texas and then back to Colorado. Andrea worked doing administrative jobs before having their two children, Sibria (now in college) and Miles (a Senior in high school), and then she stayed home. Both of her children came through Renaissance as children which eventually led to Andrea becoming a part of the REMS staff.
“When my son was going into kindergarten I was looking to get back into work and looking at getting into education. REMS had just moved to Castle Rock. I saw REMS and put my children in the lottery to go that year. They initially didn’t get in but in May, I got a call that they were able to get in. I hadn’t found a job that I wanted so then I started volunteering here and then an EA position became available, I applied for that and became an EA here. I also had my sub license so I would sub as well. I realized that teaching wasn’t for me, but working more administrative jobs felt more natural to my talents. I would help in the office and eventually I moved into a front office job. I have been working at Renaissance for twelve years.” For Andrea, the philosophy of REMS really spoke to her from her childhood and felt like a natural fit to her values.
When asked what she likes about REMS, her response: Everything! “I love the community feel with our staff and beyond. We have a great community staff-wise and we have a great community extending into our parents and kiddos. I love that we empower students to take responsibility for their actions and their abilities and are able to give them a safe environment to fail and learn from that. I wish more schools had more experiences where students can learn from taking risks and also by failing.”
Andrea’s official title is Administrative Assistant which entails being Deborah’s Secretary and the school Bookkeeper. Andrea is part of the front office face of welcoming parents and community into the school. She helps students who either come for a break or when they need the health room when Nicole isn’t here. Andrea keeps all the classified employees informed with REMS happenings as well as all district happenings. She backs up Deborah and helps her with things she needs and the bookkeeping side of all of it. She helps our classified staff with scheduling and making sure all employees get paid. She works with Janelle on the voyages on the bookkeeping and logistics side of it all (bus availability, permission forms, etc.). Andrea prepares the school’s check in process, all the internal enrichment set ups (for example helping Doug and Josh with their enrichments and sign ups and scheduling). She also works on the school calendar for the staff and the community calendar.
When Andrea isn’t juggling all the tasks her job entails, she really loves to relax at home. She loves word games and crosswords. Andrea also loves to write and hopes to be a published writer in her lifetime. She had a short stint as a sports columnist and had a few poems published, but she’d like to expand on this with her writing. On longer breaks Andrea loves to travel with her family.
We are so grateful for all that Andrea does for the successful running of Renaissance!