What Does It Take to Be a Successful Charter HR Professional?
Today’s HR Tip is an interview with an HR Expert – Charter School Success’s very own Jordan Elliott. Read below for Jordan’s valuable insights from her career as an HR professional.
How did you get into the field of HR in education?
My real love for HR evolved while I was serving as Superintendent of a charter district. I handled everything dealing with HR! HR was the most enjoyable, and the most critical piece of my Superintendent position. People management consists not only of ensuring that employees are treated fairly and in compliance with the laws, but it also involves getting the best teachers and administers for our unique school environment and retaining them! Teachers, especially, are the people who make a great school and change the lives of children. I paired my business savvy with heart-felt decision making and hired only the best people whose personalities enhanced the mission and values of the school. I was intentional about adding people to my staff whose strengths complimented the needs of our student body, both academically and emotionally. That required having all different types of personalities on my team to connect with our diverse student population. I maintained a constant awareness of the strengths and needs of the school as a whole and hired to meet those needs.
In my current position, I serve as the Chief Operations Officer and HR Services Director of several Texas charter schools and as a trainer and consultant to many more. While I miss the relationships that are built by being at a set location all of the time, I am excited to extend my HR knowledge and reach to many other charters in Texas.
What does it take to be a successful Human Resources professional?
Running a successful HR department is the result of combining many variables of an organization, such as leadership and organizational development, business acumen, relationship management, evaluation and consultation, development of a unique school culture, and constant communication. My role in HR was combined with my role as the chief business and financial officer, so the budgeting implications brought on by staffing, benefits, salaries, FLSA compliance, etc. were a large part of my HR work too. Although this complicated my work load, but I believe it resulted in the success of our HR operations. So, in short, you have to be able to do it all!
So how to get started on being able to do it all? Start by taking some of our online courses!
How do you initially assess interviewees?
When interviewing prospective employees, I ask myself a few questions:
- Did they do their research on our organization? We are employing for an academic setting, so first off I take note if a candidate did their research! Being prepared is necessary for a teacher to be successful. This is the first opportunity a candidate has to show that they know how to prepare. Also, each school has a unique culture and purpose…especially in the charter world! I want to hire people who want to be at my school, specifically, because they are on board with what WE are doing. If they know nothing about us, then they cannot be passionate about OUR school.
- Did they greet me with a firm, comfortable handshake and make eye contact? Confidence (not cockiness) is key. Being in front of 20-30 students can be scary! So is attending an interview. Giving a firm handshake and making eye contact is not easy for everyone, but it is always appreciated by the interviewer.
- Are they genuine? Do they know their own strengths? While gauging answers to these questions is not as easy to do, it is just as necessary. We want people who have developed self-awareness. We want to know what they can bring to the table that makes them of value to our organization, and they have to be able to advocate for that.
- Were they engaged, and asking me good questions? Just as we are interviewing them, a candidate should be interviewing us. Good questions indicate a level of preparedness but also show genuine interest from the candidate. We want people who want to be at our school, so we welcome the opportunity to help them decide if we are a match for them, just as we are deciding if they are a match for us.
What are your favorite areas of all the HR competencies to work with?
Recruiting and selection. I am a numbers person, but beyond that I enjoy helping charter schools recruit through the perks they offer… “the total rewards package.” This involves not just compensation and benefits – there is so much more. In schools, especially charter schools, the job is not solely about the money, as charter schools often are not be able to pay more than the local ISDs. Therefore, we have to build a package representing our culture and all of the things that make us the best place to work. Charters must also rely on marketing what makes their school unique to draw the best candidates. Charter schools have more flexibility in making their calendar and bell schedules, can focus on specialized, targeted student populations, and tend to offer more room for teacher autonomy. Factors like low student-teacher ratios, half day Fridays, and creative environments can attract teachers to charter schools outside of the ISD when the salary offered can’t.
Selection is when the fun begins, as we embark on a path of exploration and discovery with each candidate. Candidates reveal to us, through a series of exercises, interviews, meetings, and more, who they are and how they’ll impact our charter and our student success initiatives. We reveal to them, in this same process, what is needed and desired at our charter. The desired end result is a perfectly blended, balanced agreement where we have gained great staff and they have scored an exceptional, fulfilling career.
Ready to get some HR help for your charter school from the experts? Contact us!
Jordan Elliott’s Bio
Jordan Elliott is the Chief Operations Officer with Charter School Success, whose certifications include Charter School Business Officer (CSBOC), Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM-CP), and Human Capital Leaders in Education (pHCLE).
Jordan’s experience in Texas charter schools started when she first entered the charter school world as a student, and continued after she earned her Associates in Education, Early Childhood-12th, from Austin Community College while working in the business office of a small charter district. Later, after she earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in Special Education and Social Work from Texas State University, she served nearly a decade with the Katherine Anne Porter Charter School in Wimberley, Texas.
There, she served in many capacities, including Business Office Manager, Registrar, Principal, Special Ed Director, PEIMS Coordinator, and most recently as Superintendent and CFO for 5 years.
Jordan is best known for her caring and genuine personality, along with her proven record of results as an over-achiever, a collaborative leader, effective manager, and for her passion for serving and helping others. A jeep enthusiast, and always on the go, Jordan enjoys spending time with her two children, her extended family, and her dear friends.