March 15, 2023
Behind every stunning Broadway performance or Nascar photo finish, there is a team dedicated to navigating obstacles and pushing their common vision toward realization or beyond to even greater heights. At BASIS Independent Fremont, that group is our Operations Team. From tightening the literal nuts and bolts of the school to safeguarding the health of our community, the Operations department is our figurative “man behind the curtain,” creating moments of magic for students and staff every day. We sat down with the Lower School Operations team to pull the curtain back and hear, in their own words, how this magic is made.
At the helm, Associate Head of Operations, Mr. Hinkel-Lipsker, breaks down the range of this diverse and instrumental team.
“The Operations department makes up all the parts of the school that are not primarily academically focused: the Front Office, the Facilities and cleaning crew, the Health Coordinator, technology coordination, after-school care, lunch delivery, and finances. We are also the HR department for the school, tasked with identifying and retaining world-class staff members. As the head of these teams, I like to think I constantly have my finger on the pulse of the school from all angles.”
From our students’ first moments stepping onto campus to their final waves at dismissal, Operations Team members are a constant thread throughout their day. Ms. Allen and Mx. Ansel comprise our Front Office team.
“When students and parents arrive in the morning, the Front Office is often their first stop at the school. We know waking up early and getting to school is tough sometimes, so we take pride in providing warmth and welcome to our students as they start their days,” Ms. Allen explains.
Mx. Ansel elaborates further, “Students love to stop by the Front Office for all sorts of reasons. Our team is the liaison between students and families while the kids are in school. We like to act as a home base of sorts, where students can gather dropped-off items or grab a fresh mask to wear. They’ll drop in to snag a water bottle if they’ve forgotten theirs at home. Our favorite moments are during quiet times when students drop in just to say hello or share a new joke they heard.”
At the end of the school day, students have many options depending on their academic needs, schedules, and interests.
“It is the job of the Front Office to make sure that students safely arrive at their proper location at the end of each day. This is a meticulous and ever-changing task in which we take great pride. We work hard to make sure that when a family member arrives at school, their student is exactly where they are expected to be.”
Whether our students’ attention is focused on an after-school club, upcoming STEM Festival, or drama performance, our Operations Coordinator, Ms. Michelle is there to ensure staff and students are ready for special projects and events and that their classroom supplies are well-maintained. Any time there is a class party, a new engineering project, or a classroom resource needed, she oversees the logistics to ensure the materials are ready and waiting for our students.
“When teachers request manipulatives or other classroom resources, I order and deliver the materials to the classrooms. When I see the faces of the kids light up when they catch a glimpse at their new project or activity, I get to feel a little bit like Santa Claus every week! The most exciting time is Term Project Week. The school commits a lot of resources into making this week really special and engaging for the kids, and I get to be at the center of it all.”
During the last week of the academic year, Term Projects Week, students exchange their typically structured day for a week-long interdisciplinary project developed entirely by our teaching staff based on student interests.
Just as our spiraling curriculum evolves based on advancement and student interest, so do our campus’ facility demands. Ms. Christy, our Technology Coordinator, ensures students’ and staff members’ technological needs are not just met but surpassed.
“I always look for opportunities to incorporate the newest technological advancements into our classrooms. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley, we have the best access to the newest systems. Our students are very technology-focused, and I love seeing their excitement when they see a piece of new technology. It’s a passion we share!”
“My department oversees the security of students and staff when they interact with the internet and computers, and I take pride in constantly updating and upgrading our systems to ensure the highest level of safety for our students.”
Similarly, Facilities Manager, Mr. Thorpe, tells us, “safety is always the number one priority for all departments, but especially for the Facilities team. When our community was returning to school from quarantine due to COVID-19, there was a lot of work to be done to physically prepare our students for distancing while on campus. Countless hours of planning and execution went into creating partitions, new floor plans for travel between classrooms, and of course, a rigorous daily cleaning protocol which included hydroelectric spraying.”
“All the work involved was 100% worth it because, in the end, we got to see students back in the classroom and enjoying each other’s company once again.”
As Health Coordinator, one of Mr. Nate’s roles is to communicate with the county about all COVID-19 concerns.
“Limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our school and community has been a huge task, and I am proud to get to manage the safety of our students, parents, and staff in this way.”
Mr. Nate explains, “I have a great role in our school where students see me as someone that helps them fix things and will stop to ask for help for issues beyond medical assistance. Being someone that our students can trust is very special, and I want all of our kids to know that the Health Office is a safe space.”
Mr. Hinkel-Lipsker sums it up nicely. “Our community teamed up to fight against COVID-19. We went through so many policy changes, sometimes with very little notice, but our staff, students, and families were all on the same side of “Team Safety.” Through all the hybrid schedules, distance learning, and flexibility, we were able to come back to school in the safest way possible and have grown so much more since then. I am so proud of all of us for making it to this point together as a team.”
To learn more about the Primary Program at BASIS Independent Fremont’s Lower School, click here.
BASIS Independent Fremont is a grades TK-12 private school based in Fremont, California, providing students an internationally benchmarked liberal arts and sciences curriculum.