Monthly Archives: June 2009

Interviews…

I guess I should feel (ok not guess or should, I do, I really do) blessed that I have taken part in more interviews from the hiring side than the interviewee, but it doesn’t make it any less exhausting.

We interviewed 17-18 candidates over the past few days, and if there is one bright side to the economic crisis it’s that other districts our having to layoff really good folks(no, that’s not the good part) and their loss is our gain. As always there were some clear standouts, this year more than others, many middle of the pack(I found myself channeling my inner Simon Cowell and thinking ‘I’m just not sure they’ll be memorable’ and sure enough at 5pm today as we were ranking we often found ourselves saying which one was she?) and a few that, well…they need more work. With those folks in mind I went to find a past post about interviews, found it funny that it was almost exactly the same time last year, in fact if I posted this tomorrow am it would be the same day.

Here’s what I was thinking then and my additions for this year…
It’s that time of year where we interview for new teachers. After 10 years of being an interviewer, I have some definite opinions of Do’s and Don’ts for interviewees and after yesterday feel a strong urge to share them publicly.

1. Do read the posting carefully.

2. Write your cover letter and tweak your resume to match the posting. This year I had one cover that really stood out. The candidate used a two column format on the left side listed our organizations mission/goals and on the right listed her qualifications on meeting those goals. Not only did it show research (#3), but also she is at least an intermediate understanding of MS Word.

Another note about resumes, don’t go to the extreme to make them stand out…please,please use a traditional font. I’ll be honest if a resume is done in papyrus or god forbid comic sans it’s going to the bottom of the pile no matter how qualified you are, I can’t get past the font.

3. Do research on the company before your interview, if possible go beyond the company website and try to glean as much information as possible. Work your research into your verbal answers.

4. Don’t be wishy washy in your answers. It’s totally ok to ask for clarification on what an interviewer is asking so that you can be specific. I want to know how you will have impact and if you can quantify it, even better.

5. Do listen to the question and if I ask you to give me an example of a situation and resolution be very specific. Don’t pretend to be perfect and say you’ve never had this situation because that tells me you don’t have enough experience. Try to find an example that’s most relevant to the job you’re applying for. Ex: Tell me about a time you had to deal with a confrontational student/parent/employee/customer and strategies you used to resolve the situation. I would answer that question with one of the following — autistic boy who used to scream at the top of his lungs all day and the steps I took to build a relationship with him, a mother who cussed me out for suspending her son and 1 month later called and asked for help, or my all time fav supervisor/employee termination story where the employee called his mom during the termination.

6. Do dress in business attire for the interview, even if your research says it’s a casual workplace. My personal preference is that you also remove piercings in places except for your ears and cover as much as your body art as possible. You want me to focus on your answers and behavior, not staring at the giant ball in your chin. If your piercings are an important part of you and your look do ask in the interview if the company dresscode allows you to wear them. Try really hard not to play with your hair the whole time. PS. what’s with men who feel the need to empty their pockets on the table? If you can’t sit with your wallet, cell phone, keys in your pocket for 30 minutes perhaps you should leave them in the car. I’m just sayin…

7. Do prepare some questions and make sure to ask them. Often times the questions you ask me are weighted as strongly as the answers you give me. I am looking for someone who cares about my mission and is not timid.

8. Do be up front about your compensation needs either before the interview or during. Nothing ticks me off more than calling a candidate and then being told ‘I can’t work for that much money’ when they knew how much the position paid before they even applied.

9. Do be ready for the standard questions. Have great answers for the following
* Why do you want to work here?
* Why are you the best candidate?
* What are your strengths? if you struggle with this question I highly recommend Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham.
* What are your weaknesses?…and don’t say I’m a work-a-holic. It may be true, but I might just think that your not efficent with your time and have to work late often because you spent to much time chit chating or surfing the web during the day.

10. Do mimic/mirror my body language. There have been several studies on successful interviews and they have found that when the candidate mirrors the interviewer they are more likely to be offered the position. Why? Non-verbal language tells me that we’re a match and can get along together.

11. Don’t talk negatively about a previous employer or place blame for your leaving on another person or member of the team you worked on. As an experienced supervisor, I usually jump to the conclusion that you’re a difficult person to work with and I don’t want that kind of negativity entering my work environment.

13. Google yourself before the interview, you should know what your online footprint is…we asked this as the last question and I was surprised to find out how many people had never googled themselves or at least would admit it.

Of course I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here and just say if you’re out there interviewing Good Luck, do everything you can do to be memorable!

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I’m alive…

I know it’s been a long time since I went a week without blogging…life has been just a little crazy the past couple of weeks, full of blogworthy events except they’ve left me a little overwhelmed and exhausted. Here’s a quick run down…

1. Graduation…132 grads, 1500 of their nearest and dearest + handful of muckety mucks
2. Car broke down on way to said graduation w/diplomas in car
3. Car towed to dealer for look-see
4. Look-see revealed breakdown because of relatively cheap issue, while there let’s look do a 60,000 mile check-up, ok
5. Check-up not ok…more things to fix…$1400 grand total but that does include a new drivers
6. Stressed because car really needs another $1000 of work and I can’t afford it without savings taking a serious hit, thought I would put it on the CC, but bastards dropped my limit. thanks for that surprise.
7. Made 20 cards on Thursday night for teachers who are now on summer break
8. Had my summer hair appointment and decided to let the inner wild child come out…hello purple…

My craft room has been the sanctuary through it all and I’ve been playing a little each day. I’ll share some of the crafti-goodness in the days to come.

Good things are on the horizon, looking forward to some time with fam in AK and taking this free class at JessicaSprague.com (my favorite classes) bonus and blessing that this class is free and at the perfect time for me to take advantage of it. Registration starts on Monday, come learn with me.

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Pretty Please with a Cherry on Top

What’s not to love about a sticker with that phrase? I took the plunge and bought a Studio Calico kit this month…ok you caught me I bought 2 kits…the main and the Cherry Pop add on…I rationalized the second kit knowing the Houston really wanted it and fear that she didn’t have internet access while in the wilds of Yosimite. I was prepared to give it all away and then…it came with it’s bright cherry stickers and papers and well…we split the kit. Main kit is full of Cosmo goodness which I usually have a hard time cutting into, but since I had special ordered a full kit of just that I had now problem punching a few circles out of one of the papers…and the circles kept coming. This is one of those layouts that completely evolved as elements came together. It started with a polka dot background, color photo, a fussy cut flower, and punched circles. Polka dots got switched for kraft and I had polka dot letters but then the gingham ribbon practically jumped on the page by itself and I needed more red out with the chipboard letters and in with stamped letters…which didn’t match the colors in the photo…finally at around 9 it all came together and I love it.
Patterned Paper:Cosmo Cricket
Alphas: AC Tickers (ooh peacock chip, yum!) OA stamps
Embellies: Jenni Bowlin(chipboard buttons), K&Co Bling, OA(Cherry, Polka stickers), QK (rings, leaves from re-use set)
Ribbon: Michaels

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Monday Quote

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And, the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.“ – Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday is challenge day in designer digitals land…or at least it’s the day I discover the challenges…the best thing about challenges there is that they come with freebies. Yay! Of course Sunday also has .25 cent items too, which have led me down a spending path the couple of weeks, who wants to charge .50 cents? Clearly I’m not alone, it must work out pretty well for the site or they have a great credit card contract that doesn’t charge a fee for each purchase…I digress…the challenge is what this post is really supposed to be about. Secret Desires, what a perfect thing to think about, of course traveling immediately popped into my mind, perfect except that it’s not much of a ‘secret’, so I altered the challenge just a bit.

This great overlay by Anna Aspnes was part of the challenge, it made for an easy page to come together…and who doesn’t love an easy page?

everyday inspiration challenge 'desire'

Since it’s so easy, I challenge all of you in bloggie land to scrap this topic, I promise it will be a fun one. Want to use the template? Go get it here. (you’ll need a designer digitals community account to access it, I know one more account blah, blah, blah, but this one is TOTALLY worth it, I promise)
Hope you have a great week!

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Random Invention time

This is the time of year based on environmental(sun shining in the window and birds that refuse to sleep in) + work pressures(see yesterday’s post and multiply by 132) have me waking up way, way, way to early. And while my brain is awake, my middle aged body says otherwise, which means the brain is off and running into work and sometimes, like this morning, thinking in completely random directions. Maybe is was the story about invention camp on last night’s news that lead my brain down the path…

Here’s my grand idea for an invention, refrigerators should have some sort of altered POS (in this case it stands for ‘point of sale’ for you non-retail folks and even those with retail experience whose minds immediately go to 4 letter words). The POS would have a scanner in the door and you would just scan your items as you put them away. Then the fridge could help track expiration dates, inventory etc. and have a little display on the front side…

Ex:
Fresh:
Apples Purchased xx/xx/xx
Hamburger purchased xx/xx/xx

Use this week:
peppers
blue cheese

Use in 3 days
Watermelon
Steak

In danger of turning green

Throw it out already
Milk
Eggs from 2007

Basics to purchase (and then you could network the fridge and print a shopping list)
Salsa
Eggs
Yogurt

If only I could figure out how to scan leftovers I would never have anything turn green in my fridge again...yeah right, hey a girl can dream.

As I typed this I realized this is just may be a classic example of you can take the girl out of retail, but you can’t take the retail out of the girl and I’m already compensating for the loss of my beloved part-time job at Scrapbook Destination.

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Why I Do What I Do…

from gatewaynews.org

Sunday, May 31, 2009

HOPE ON LINE EDUCATION TURNS ROUGH GIRL INTO PROM QUEEN


COMMERCE CITY — Susana “Vivi” Briones was on the road to trouble during her days at Adams City High School. She hung out with the rough crowd, smoked pot, and ditched class.

Arguments and fights were common for this tough girl in training, who smoked her first joint at 14 and seemed destined to become a high school dropout just like every other member of her family.

“I thought why should I go to school? No one in my family graduated,” Briones said. “Why should I care?”

Fate, family and faith changed everything for Briones, who became Hope Online Learning Academy Co-Op’s first ever prom queen last month – a distinction earned through academic achievement not popularity.

The change, fostered by her mother’s love and the support of teachers and mentors at Hope Online’s New Heights Academy learning center in Commerce City, mellowed Briones’s rough ways and taught her the importance of academic success.

The big shift occurred during Briones’s sophomore year. That’s when her mother took her out of Adams City High School and placed her into a Hope Online learning center in Commerce City. Briones, in typical teen-aged fashion, rebelled.

“I did not want to go there,” Briones said of the school that specializes in on-line education and letting students learn at their own pace. “I thought it was a school for dumb kids. I did not think it was a real school. This is just a roomful of kids on computers, what will they learn?”

As it turned out, Briones learned a great deal.

Briones’s final transformation occurred after her older brother dropped out of high school just one month away from graduation. Suddenly, Briones realized that she could become the first in her extended family of 40 to earn a high school diploma.
“My mother wanted to see a diploma in my brother’s hands. When that did not happen, I saw how disappointed she was,” Briones said. “I did not want her to go through that again. … My mother gives me so much. I realized that I needed to give back and start all over.”

Like a modern-day version of “My Fair Lady,” Briones changed from a troubled teen into a top student.

“Had I not moved to Hope Online, I would have been a typical dropout who gets pregnant at 18,” she said.

Now, Briones has a bright future. She will attend the Community College of Denver in the fall and work to become a teacher or counselor.

Briones is proof that the hands-on approach followed at Hope Online works for thousands of students who need more than what is provided at standard brick and mortar schools.

“I started getting excited about graduation during my junior year,” Briones said. “I saw that I could be the first in my family to graduate. My entire attitude changed thanks to my teachers and mentors who never gave up on me and told me that I could do it.”

Briones will be among 130 fellow Hope Online graduates during the school’s graduation ceremony on June 11.

PS…Prom Queen here, unlike the popularity contest at other schools, is decided purely on academic merit. Yay!

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Culture Shock

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. Martin Luther King Jr.

I was sitting in a meeting not so long ago, when one of my ‘trigger’ sentences was uttered…In our culture…a seemingly innocent and interesting utterance, after all we are nothing without culture. It is our story, our community, our life. I believe it can also be an excuse for not taking steps to build a stronger culture. Throughout my career, I’ve heard it used in ways that quite frankly make my skin crawl.

In our culture
…we don’t talk about substance abuse
…we don’t talk about mental health
…we don’t talk about sex ed
…we don’t talk about child abuse
…we don’t talk about suicide
…we don’t talk about domestic violence
…we don’t talk about the benefits of good early childcare, when parents aren’t available(and in some cases appropriate to care for children)

It makes my skin crawl because by not talking about these things, we condone them…, we look the other way and our people suffer. ”Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. I know talking about culture is sometimes a dangerous slope, so often we are judged by the color of skin as if it was the only factor in determining culture, when in fact ethnicity is only a small component of culture. It is my strong belief that if we are ever to truly change the world, we have stop using culture as an excuse, begin in our own back yard, start pulling at the weeds, start being pricked by the thorns of difficult conversations, address these issues so our culture will grow stronger, so our legacy will be fulfilled, so we can say and know I made a difference.

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