A Day in the Life of a RePublic Dean of Students

Written by Chariti Perkins, Dean of students at Smilow Prep

Before joining the RePublic team two years ago, Chariti Perkins was an elementary school teacher at Utica Elementary Middle School in Utica, Mississippi for three years. She initially joined RePublic’s staff as a sixth grade literacy teacher, and she now serves as a dean of students at Smilow Prep. Chariti sat down with me to share what a typical school day looks like for her.

3:45 a.m.
“This seems a bit early right? As a wife and mother of three, well four if you count our new puppy, Koba, who is giving me the new puppy blues right now haha, I want to maximize the time that I have with my family. So, I have learned that I need time while they are still asleep to get a few things done. This first thing I do when I wake up is pray. I need this time to thank the Lord, empty out all the heavy things that may be on my heart from the previous day, and receive the peace and spiritual nourishment that I need to successfully carry out my responsibilities as a wife, mother, and dean of students. I also need to take Koba, my fourth child, outside to use the restroom.”

4:00 a.m.
“After morning prayer and puppy duty, I use this time as work time. I catch up on anything I didn’t get done the previous day, which can be dean work or housework. This uninterrupted time is crucial for me to stay afloat. I’m working to get more organized in 2019 so that hopefully I can use this time to work out haha!”

5:00 a.m.
“This is a time that is just as crucial as the first two. Waking my children up, getting them ready for the day, and giving them a great start is super important to me. It is often rushed but usually includes singing and playing loud music that makes them dance and pumps them up. I have one rule which is no fussing in the morning! I know that setting this rule helps us all have a better start to our day. That goes for mommy, daddy, brother, and sisters. We try our best, but even my sweet daughter Kynli and son and Smilow Collegiate scholar DaSean can get a little fussy in the mornings. Just like our scholars, I hold my family to high morning expectations. Your mornings often affect the rest of your day so it’s important to me I do everything I can for my babies to have a great one. Off to school we go!”

7:00 a.m.
“Leader Huddle begins every day at 7 a.m. We use this time to get on one page and let everyone know what we are focusing on in our particular departments. I’m a culture lead so many of my quick hits, or daily foci, have to do with culture. Attendance, student culture and incentives, staff culture and teacher coaching, are among a few other things all fall under the “dean” umbrella. Just like I prepare my family each morning to have a great day, we as leaders prepare to give our teachers a great start to the day at the upcoming Staff Huddle.”

7:30 a.m.
“I go outside and greet the early arrival students until we officially let them inside the building at 7:45 a.m. I really value this time because, once again just like for my family, the morning time is a great opportunity to start a scholar’s day off on a good note. We talk a little, laugh, and pump each other up before they line-up, take out reading books, and enter the building. We seal the greeting with a high five, fist bump, handshake, or hugs. Every child that enters our building gets a personal greeting from me. This is all a part of our warm and demanding classrooms priority. We know it’s critical for our scholars to know that we deeply care about them as people, and these little greetings help to remind them that I care.”

8:18 a.m.
“After all kids have entered the building, gotten breakfast, used the restroom, and been to the dean’s office for any uniform infractions, I get to get on the intercom system and remind kids what we are here to do and that I love them. I remind them of any challenges or focus areas that we are doing for that week or month, and I literally end with ‘love you! bye.’ Similar to the morning greetings, this models the warm and demanding culture we want to see in our classrooms. We want to continually remind scholars that we care about them and believe in their ability to meet our sky-high expectations. Needless to say, this is a pretty important part to the start of my day.”

9:00 a.m.
“As the dean of students and culture, it’s a part of my role to coach scholars and teachers. When scholars do not meet classroom expectations, they are sent to Mr. Reed, our other dean of students, or me. Just like in the morning, I am working towards our network priority of warm and demanding classroom cultures by coaching our scholars. Our teachers and staff have incredibly high behavioral and academic expectations for scholars that we root in deep and authentic relationships. This means that when I am coaching a scholar, I use this as an opportunity to have the scholar reflect on their behavior and how it affects their learning, their classmates, and their relationship with their teachers. Scholars are able to express their point of view with me while also getting the chance to role play after hearing a trusted adult where they made a misstep and how they could avoid it in the future. Scholars then write an apology letter owning their mistake and communicate the steps they will take next time in order to not make the same mistake again. This part is crucial to letting our scholars know that we believe that they can make the right choices and that they owe it to themselves and our school community to do so.”

2:00 p.m.
“In addition to coaching scholars, I also coach teachers to develop stronger classroom management skills and warm and demanding classroom cultures. Tight routines, mutual respect and building relationships are important factors in strong classroom culture. Our scholars need structure and rigor, but they also need to know that they are cared for. They also need to know that they will meet these expectations not just because it’s our expectation, but because they can do it and owe it to themselves to do so. We are dedicated to helping them get there – all we need is their commitment and effort. What I try to impress upon teachers is that we are similar to scholars’ families while they are at school. Yes, we are to hold the line when comes to our expectations, but our babies got to know we love them and push them because we believe in them. Our scholars need to be built up, know we see them, and that we have their backs. Same goes for teachers. As a culture lead, it’s important to me that my teachers feel the same as I want our scholars to feel, ‘I’m going to hold the line but I got your back.’ They are my team, and I couldn’t do a lot of what I do if I didn’t have their trust and support.”

5:30 p.m.
“After all the work of a dean is done for the day, I go get my babies from daycare. It’s important that I’ve either processed my day before I go get them or make time after they all go to bed to process because they deserve the very best of mommy for the few hours they are awake. For this reason, I don’t bring work home unless I do it early in the morning hours. Depending on the day of the week, we have special things that we do. On Mondays, we visit their great grandparents, my husband’s grandparents. On Tuesdays, we visit Grandma Eva, my husband’s mom, and have Taco Tuesday every Tuesday. Wednesdays is church with MiMi, my mother. Thursdays is Twinkle Dance and hip hop for my babies, including my son, and Fridays are alternated between family fun nights where we watch movies, play games or sing karaoke or a cousin sleepover at MiMi’s house, which usually means date night for daddy and me. Just like I give it my all for my school family, my home family time is super important, and we make sure to take full advantage of our time together!”