After 15 years in her position as Nueva's director of admissions, Taryn Grogan is moving into the newly created director of enrollment and strategic engagement position. Junior Grace F. interviews Taryn to learn more about her new role that expands on the work she's done over the past 15 years.
Grace F.: How did this transition moving from director of admissions to director of enrollment and strategic engagement come about?
Taryn Grogran: As we’ve thought about who we are as a school now that we're preK through 12, we’ve been asking ourselves, “What do we think about the growth of the school?” and “What are some of the gaps we are seeing because of this growth?” Because we grew so quickly, one of the areas we are particularly focused on is building and maintaining a strong community, and the values we hold, across two campuses and three divisions. The school leadership has seen a need for more community outreach and helping underserved communities of our school. We also want to focus more closely on bringing in a wider range of diverse families, families who represent all walks of life to make our school racially, ethnically, socioeconomically, and religiously (among many other identities) more diverse.
I've always done more than just admissions at the school and my new role comes out of all of the work I have already been doing in the areas of outreach and engagement.
GF: What will you oversee that you didn’t previously?
TG: A lot of what I will be doing is not new; rather, it’s allowing me to focus more of my time on these important outreach and engagement initiatives. When admissions was my main focus, it was sometimes hard to be more strategic and put plans, to network and build partnerships with our broader communities. One new area of focus for me is our financial awards program and looking at the culture of the school around socioeconomic identity. While about 20 percent of Nueva families receive financial awards, I think that a lot of people look at Nueva, at Hillsborough campus, giftedness, and other things that appear to be barriers and think, “Well, I don't belong, or I could never afford to be there.” I want to shift the culture around socioeconomics so people feel like they do belong here.
Another area I’m focused on in my new role is working with the trustees to build our new strategic plan for the school. Every four years, we look at where the school is and answer questions such as, “Where do we see our growth?” “What are some of the goals that we want to accomplish?”, “How do we get there?” and ”How do we hold ourselves accountable?”
GF: What do you think a typical day in this new position will entail, and how will it differ from your previous position?
TG: In addition to meeting with our parents, students, alumni, trustees, and all of our community members as we build our strategic plan, I also plan to do off-campus visits and go to different communities to build partnerships. I will spend a lot of time focused on “What does giftedness mean at Nueva?” and working to peel back the layers on that term so people better understand what giftedness is and how it is what some people believe is an elite society.
I am very excited to spend more time in classes and to be a co-advisor. In terms of admissions, I'll still be meeting with families and involved in the admission cycle, particularly since we're still hiring a director of admissions for our team. I will be interviewing students and parents, doing activity sessions, and helping with the daily admissions process as needed.
GF: What are some of your goals for the next year?
TG: I really want to focus on strengthening relationships with our partners. One project I would like to re-engage with is a partnership with the Oakland Unified School District. Prior to the pandemic, Alegria Barclay, director of social justice and equity, and I had been working to launch a partnership with the school district to do a summer camp there for students of color. Our hope is to get that off the ground next summer.
GF: Thanks, Taryn! It’s been great speaking with you. Any final thoughts?
TG: I think my goal is to build on all the great ideas, all the great work of the community that we have already, and just to take it to the next level. Much of what I hope to do may not be a brand new idea. But maybe we can actually take that little seed of an idea and light a new fire and do something different or build it in a different way. What we hoped to accomplish five years ago is going to look different today just because of where we are. I'm just getting ready for the ride.