Erica Newsom | Director of School Operations | KIPP DC HDQ
KIPP DC takes great pride in acknowledging and celebrating the invaluable contributions made by our community members. This summer, we are thrilled to bring attention to the remarkable individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the excellence of our schools. This month, we are delighted to feature Erica Newsom, a member of our team serving as the director of school operations. Erica, originally from West Virginia, earned her bachelor’s degree in business management from Fairmont State University.
With a background in sales and customer service, Erica made a career change driven by her desire to make a meaningful impact and help others. We recently had the opportunity to speak with her, gaining valuable insights into her remarkable journey at KIPP DC.
What does your role entail?
My responsibilities are quite diverse. I play a crucial part in overseeing and coordinating various aspects with our vendors, such as janitorial services and meal program providers. I am actively involved in supporting all campuses. I collaborate with the campus operations teams, ensuring smooth operations during the summer. One of my key tasks is to establish effective policies and best practices, facilitating their sharing across the network and coordinating any network-wide initiatives.
How does the work you do impact the everyday life of KIPP DC schools?
When I first started in this role, I had the same question in mind. I remember asking one of the school leaders if I was fulfilling their needs effectively. His response reassured me. He explained that if I were doing a poor job, everyone would feel the impact, but the fact that everything runs smoothly without people even realizing the behind-the-scenes work means I’m doing an excellent job. Our goal is to operate seamlessly without drawing attention. This doesn’t mean we don’t want people to recognize us or greet us; it simply means we want them to have peace of mind, knowing that we take care of all the details. Whether it’s organizing field trips, managing finances, fixing a hole in the wall, or ensuring clean classrooms, our aim is to anticipate needs and promptly address them so that teachers and staff can focus on their core responsibilities without worry.
How do you maintain connections with school-based staff, including teachers, school leaders, and office managers?
One of the key methods is through personal visits. I make it a point to connect with the operations lead time regularly and visit campuses. Additionally, I prioritize making rounds during the summer to ensure that work is progressing smoothly and on track. While I may not have direct interactions with school leaders during this time, I do have the opportunity to connect with the individuals who are actively engaged in summer projects and operations.
How does your job change between the summer and when students are attending school?
Although the workload remains substantial, the nature of my job differs significantly during the summer compared to when students are in the building. It becomes highly focused on logistics and planning. I need to determine what needs to happen on specific days and be prepared to make adjustments if necessary. The summer period is like working in a controlled environment, with only a few campuses hosting summer camps and fewer activities taking place overall. This allows me to concentrate on the tasks at hand without the additional demands that typically accompany the school year. It’s a different kind of work, still demanding, but without the usual bustling atmosphere.
What accomplishments at KIPP DC are you particularly proud of?
One aspect that fills me with pride is my ability to build strong relationships. Throughout my tenure here, I have formed numerous meaningful connections with individuals across different campuses. It brings me joy to walk into any campus, even those I haven’t directly overseen, and still have established relationships with the staff.
Additionally, I take great pride in the documents I have created that have significantly contributed to the team’s success in achieving their goals. One example is a comprehensive plan I developed for our summer work. This plan involves coordinating various aspects such as technology facilities, cleaning, labor teams, and summer programs. While it’s not flawless, it has proven to be effective in ensuring successful implementation year after year.
Since many of our students and staff are enjoying their summer break, let’s talk about vacations. What has been your best vacation experience?
Throughout my life, I’ve always cherished the tradition of taking a family beach vacation during the summer. Now, with a 3-year-old of my own, it’s important for me to continue this tradition and create lasting memories for him. In fact, next week, we’ll be heading to the beautiful beaches of North Carolina. I’m excited about sharing this experience with him. It’s a special time for us as a family, and I value the opportunity to pass down this tradition.
Erica Newsom’s dedication and exceptional work as the director of school operations is truly extraordinary. We are grateful for her remarkable journey at KIPP DC and the positive impact she continues to make within our school community.