President Franklin D. Roosevelt said to the American people about his governmental team, “You have had an administration which, instead of twirling its thumbs, has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.”
The Nueva Business Office has certainly “rolled up its sleeves,” particularly over the last 14 months, successfully managing a range of new and unexpected challenges, as its people quietly and effectively supported students, staff, faculty and parents.
If you think of Nueva as a school bus, the three teams previously featured in this space can be thought of as the wheels; without the wheels, the bus can’t move forward. But no bus can operate without the engine, and at Nueva the engine that drives us behind the scenes is the Business Office, under the leadership of Director of Finance and Administration Brett Dyer.
Brett, who joined the Nueva community just nine months ago, took the helm seamlessly, despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic. On the finance and administration team with Brett are Controller Myna Chiem; Senior Accountant Chris Yu; Finance Analyst Victor Chin; Accounting Specialist Lourdes Garcia; Director of Human Resources Scott Bowers, and Human Resources and Payroll Administrator Nancy Kulka.
Each member of this team has important and specific responsibilities for which they are solely responsible, and collectively they are responsible for the accounting, finance and human resource functions of the Nueva infrastructure.
“The business office team—Brett, Scott, Myna, Lourdes, Nancy, Chris, and Victor—together represent 50-plus years of Nueva service,” said Associate Head of School Terry Lee, who works very closely with the Business Office. “They always help quickly and efficiently to complete all the things that need to be done,so faculty, students, parents, partners, and other staff can do their best learning, teaching and volunteering.”
The Business Office team has played a critical role in ensuring the school continued to operate during the pandemic, working to ensure the budget could stretch to include all the sizable expenses that could not be predicted ahead of time. These included ensuring there was financing for the deep cleaning, the personal protective equipment, the weekly testing, and the new individual lunch protocols, which Nueva put in place to ensure as much safety as possible for the students, staff and faculty. This team was also integral in relaunching the bus transportation program across both campuses.
“The team was used to working closely together and switching to remote did take an emotional as well as practical toll,” Brett said. “Installing Slack helped team members communicate more informally in a remote environment. I also made myself available in person as much as was possible when this was allowed.”
“My job requires me to be physically in the office, since I need to pay vendors and process parents’ tuition and incidental payments,” added Lourdes, who has been at Nueva for more than 20 years. “We made sure to stagger our days in the office, so there weren’t too many people in the office on the same days. Nueva made my work easier for me by allowing me to work flexibly from home and from school depending on what has been needed, and has provided me the necessary tools to get my job done wherever I am located.”
The Business Office team’s flexibility allowed the finance and administration of the school to continue to run smoothly. Victor discussed the impact of the changes on the team’s approach.
“We collaborate formally on Zoom at least three times a week, while using Slack with each other numerous times a day,” he said. “We also phone and email each other regularly when working remotely. Also since we are not in the office as much as before, we had to pre-plan our activities before coming to the campus to be more productive. So everything that needs to happen is happening! But we still miss the daily interactions—not just among ourselves but with the whole Nueva community.”
Now that the school community is beginning to see the end of the dark tunnel of the pandemic, with hopes of bringing more people together in-person, the Business Office is beginning to consider other needs for the school, while continuing to prioritize safety. One major area of focus for Brett is setting up systems and processes to help streamline the work his team does, since Nueva has grown tremendously over the last five years, from 500 students to almost 1,000.
“Unfortunately, there was no time to implement new systems,” Brett said. “Now that our enrollment growth has slowed, and we can see a potential resolution of the present crisis, we can begin to focus on what will help the school run most efficiently. We can now begin consolidating systems and eliminating manual paperwork!”
Although the members of the Business Office are based on the San Mateo campus, their work spans both campuses. You can find them on the third floor next to the Communications office. If staff, students and parents would like to reach out to the Business Office, they are always pleased to hear from you as soon as you have a question or issue that you think might be related to finance in any way, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story is the fourth and final part in a four-part series of gratitude for the ways in which staff worked behind the scenes, even in the midst of a global pandemic, so that Nueva could continue to ensure students and families continue to experience the Nueva way.