Q&A with Susan Fallon, Deans’ Office Administrative Assistant

fallon-largerWhat’s your typical day like in the Deans’ Office?
I’m not sure if there is a “typical” day, but my routine usually begins with a quick review of the Deans’ Office voicemail and email, and a call to the Health Center to account for any students who may miss classes for the day. This information is communicated to faculty and updated throughout the day. After Chapel and Roll Call, I review morning Chapel attendance and enter any unexcused absences in the database. If students have been erroneously marked absent they have 48 hours to stop by our office to clear the demerits. Throughout the day I answer questions in person; take calls and answer emails from students, faculty, staff and parents; and work on any number of things that the deans may ask of me.

What do you do that might surprise us?
Although some aspects of my job are routine, there is always something new going on in the Schoolhouse. Sometimes it’s as simple as locating the owner of a missing phone, asking a student to call home, or waking a student who may have overslept. One of the more unusual situations arose just last week when I volunteered to keep a net within easy reach in case an elusive bat in the Schoolroom decided to take flight from its home in the upper rafters. I can thankfully report it was eventually caught by the awesome B&G crew!

What day-to-day details do you keep track of?
Managing forms from students (weekends off campus, college visits, driving forms, parent permission forms). If a student asks to leave campus for the weekend, we need to pull the permission form to see if parental approval is necessary. We also check the driving permission form to make sure the student has permission to drive with someone other than a faculty member. I also manage demerits and work crews; weekend religious service attendance; Study Hall attendance; dorm rotation schedules and feed reimbursements for faculty; and seating charts for Sit-down dinners and the Schoolroom. There’s also printing and distributing student ID cards; coordinating transportation for breaks, Surprise Holidays, college visits, and major School trips; and ensuring that international students traveling on I-20 forms have necessary paperwork if they leave campus. August, September, and October are particularly busy, assigning dorms, getting the directory published, and ensuring all appropriate forms have been submitted to our office. The last two months of school are also very busy, ensuring everything gets wrapped up before students leave for summer.

How do you stay organized?
I try to use technology to my advantage. I keep track of everything with a calendar I created in Excel. I’ve automated several processes which were done manually in the past. I created an online travel/transportation form. In the past, more than 2,000 paper responses per year had to be manually copied, distributed, collected, and entered into a spreadsheet. I’ve also tried to organize our online filing system so it is easier to locate documents, and created a process for recording overall demerits and consequences, which has helped maintain consistent record-keeping.

You track students’ demerits—what’s the most common way that students earn demerits?
Without a doubt, the most common reason for demerits is missing morning Chapel.

You worked in the Development Office before the Deans’ Office. How did you end up at Groton, and why the switch?
I had driven by Groton School over the years, admired the immaculately maintained campus and thought how wonderful it would be to work at such a beautiful place. When I spotted an advertisement for an opening in the Development Office, I applied immediately. I fell in love with Groton the minute I set foot on campus. I was fortunate to have been asked by Doug Brown to do some freelance work on A Schoolmaster’s Scrapbook, a manuscript by Henry Howe Richards, Form of 1894 and faculty from 1898-1941. It is a fascinating glimpse into Groton’s past and a great resource for anyone who wants to know more about the history of the School. Working in the Development Office, I had the opportunity to delve into the history of the School and see firsthand the positive contributions made by so many Groton graduates, parents, and friends. Reunion Weekend was always my favorite event. Returning alumni are so excited to be back on campus and appreciate what a privilege it is to be part of such a special place. I thoroughly enjoyed working in the Dome but ultimately, having interaction with the kids was my primary reason for making the change to the Deans’ Office. I love being in the middle of the busy life of the Schoolhouse and getting to know the students.

What are your interests outside work?
I have three children attending three different schools, each involved in a myriad of activities, so they keep me very busy. I’m also a Destination Imagination team manager and a Girl Scout leader for a troop of 15 fourth graders.

How do you spend your free time?
I have a passion for U.S. history, and this area of the country has so much to offer. I love hiking, whether it is trudging through the woods and discovering the ruins of an old stone wall or walking the Freedom Trail. One of the benefits of working in the Deans’ Office is having summers off, and I try to pack as much as possible into those two months. One of last summer’s highlights was camping with my girls on Peddock Island in Boston Harbor. We explored the abandoned mortar pits and underground tunnels of Fort Andrews and camped next to the old gun batteries. Watching the sunset over the city of Boston from the remote island beach is an unforgettable experience!

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