At Right At School we believe that all education is local and that we are at our best when we operate as part of the school community fabric. We know our people are the most important part of Right At School. They help us live out our mission, become trusted partners to the families in the community, collaborate with faculty and staff to ensure quality programs, and provide students a safe and enriching program experience each and every day. Our passion for locally-inspired enrichment is what makes Right At School Programs different from other enrichment providers. In this ongoing series, we’ll be spotlighting some of the amazing people on our team who are the very heart of what we do everyday.
Recently, Senior Area Manager Kealy Shroeder shared the story of her journey to Right At School, her work with schools and programs, and her passion for working with students, educators, and families.
I joined Right At School in June 2020. The middle of a pandemic might seem like the worst time to start a new job, but I’m thankful I did!
I started my career as a site assistant at a summer camp program run by an early childhood education provider. During my 10 years there, I wore different hats and worked my way up to area manager. I then went to work for a not-for-profit organization but realized my passion remained in the out-of-school time field. When I heard about all the exciting things happening at Right At School, I knew I had to come back to my true calling.
At Right At School, our area managers are extraordinary leaders. As a senior area manager, it’s my job to support them and ensure they have the tools, resources, and training they need to be successful.
It is the relationships that make Right At School different from most other organizations.
We meet with our school and district partners throughout the year to ensure we are aligned with their strategic goals and priorities. We communicate regularly with school and district leaders. We participate in school board meetings and PTO events. We talk with teachers and chat with front office staff. We want to know if there’s a Messy Hair Day or other school event coming up that we should be part of. We converse with parents about their children every day at pick up and drop off.
One of Right At School’s core values is to be locally-inspired.
That local inspiration extends from the school and district into the community as well. Students get so excited when they see us participating in community events — or even shopping at the grocery store. My favorite is when a student runs up with their parent and says, “Omigod! Miss Kealy is here! She doesn’t live at school?!”
If you were to poll parents and ask how they heard about Right At School, I would estimate that 85% were referred by friends because of the relationships our educators and program managers have built. It’s truly the talent at the site level that’s driving results across the company. In parents’ groups on Facebook, I see so many parents saying things like, “My child never talks about what they’re doing in kindergarten; it’s always what they’re doing at Kinder Wrap with Right At School!”
Our before and after school enrichment programs are highly structured, but within that structure, we have the ability to support students’ interests and needs on an individual level, and to support what’s happening within the school building, district, and community. Right now, for example,one of our summer camps is partnering with a local animal rescue, so the kids have been bringing in old t-shirts and making toys for the animals. Activities like this link students with their community and give them purpose, and they’re fun!
Another thing that sets Right at School apart is the culture.
There is a desire here for everyone to succeed. I never feel like someone is trying to step on me or anyone else to get ahead. We have this shared understanding that to be successful, we have to move forward as a team. If you don’t succeed, then I don’t succeed.
In my role as a Senior Area Manager, one activity I like to make time for during my weekly team meetings with area managers is what I call “Glows and Grows.” During this time, we share best practices and successes in our programs that week. We also feel comfortable being vulnerable and sharing struggles or obstacles so others can lean into their strengths and support us. Plus, the professional development that Right At School provides is amazing, and the training department is fantastic.
For schools and districts that don’t yet have an extended day enrichment program, it’s simply a matter of letting Right At School come in and take care of it for you. Just give us a space and the wi-fi password, and we can take care of it from there. We truly do provide peace of mind for our partners. They know we have everything covered so it’s not going to create more work for them. They know their students are safe and cared for, and that they’re going to have amazing enrichment opportunities.
It’s difficult to articulate just how much I love my job. I joked to my summer camp team this year, “Tell me a better job you could possibly have! We make tie-dye shirts, we have dance contests, we make solar-powered s’mores, we get to play and be silly — and we’re getting paid to do it.” That’s just awesome!