‘Innovating during a whole pandemic’: a conversation with Paula Glover
This is the second story in a series titled “Pandemic on the Mind” where we explore the experiences of our staff during the coronavirus pandemic through a professional and personal lens.
Role: Manager of School Support
Joined The Mind Trust: August, 2019
Paula Glover had previous experience with remote work from the years she spent in corporate America prior to joining The Mind Trust. In terms of structure, March’s shift to working from home was in some ways a return to what she always knew. Still, having been with The Mind Trust for only six months when the pandemic forced school building and business closures, the switch came with new ways of being and interacting. By no means did that exclude the Great Schools team as they had to restructure supports to continue to serve schools.
The sudden cessation of working in-person with schools, leaders, and educators that the pandemic imposed on her team could have meant they lost urgency in pursuing excellence alongside our community’s schools. Instead, she noted, “Our goal is always to move the work forward, not using the pandemic as an excuse. Kids don’t stop, so we don’t stop. Doesn’t matter if there’s a whole pandemic, our kids still deserve a high-quality education that lets them achieve the outcomes they deserve.”
In fact, Paula has seen her team embrace new methods of communication and collaboration. While in the office, they used to meet weekly as a team. Now they conduct daily huddles that are shorter, yet more tactical in addressing each day’s priorities. “We have alleviated siloes even within our team and created an environment where everyone is able to contribute to and feed off of everyone else’s work.”
Moreover, the School Support team shifted responsibilities such that everyone on the team, not just select team members, owned responsibility for building and fostering relationships with school leaders. Beyond breaking down individual work siloes, it has resulted in her team gaining wider clarity in what schools need and how to best deliver for them.
Paula even credited the pandemic with solidifying her passion for The Mind Trust’s mission. “If anything, the pandemic has actually clarified the urgency of this work for me.” Paula also has a direct window into the pandemic’s impact on teachers and students since her daughter, Lydia, was a founding Kindergarten teacher at Allegiant Preparatory Academy.
Leaning on her prior experience working from home, Paula has connected with The Mind Trust’s core value of Entrepreneurship, embracing the opportunities that have come her way as her team engaged technology solutions to connect and collaborate. “I have been able to innovate during the pandemic in ways I didn’t expect. We have shifted so many of our structures and procedures to Salesforce, which has helped facilitate so many of our virtual events and other aspects of our work.”
For most of the year, Paula dealt with the pandemic primarily through her job. But things hit home when her son, James, contracted COVID-19 in the fall. “It was scary. Navigating the healthcare system is fraught as it is and trying to help him as he goes through school and works full-time was just a whole lot.” Thankfully, James made a full recovery, returning to his studies at Claflin University and his job at Lowe’s.
Has the year of the pandemic changed her at all? “I’ve become more courageous as an employee. The pandemic has allowed me to see myself as part of an organization that is nimble and people first. I’ve gotten more courageous in speaking up when it comes to efficiency and equity.”
Paula was also quick to note a major highlight of her tenure at The Mind Trust has been seeing the Five-Year Talent Strategy’s development and evolution from purely internal conversations when she started on the team to a full roll-out this fall. In dreaming about what the future for her at The Mind Trust might hold, she envisions someday facilitating a student “shark tank,” citing the ingenuity in our students and communities alongside recognizing that students deserve those types of opportunities to thrive and showcase their passions.
For as much as she learned professionally from working remotely in the corporate world, she always felt there was one major element missing that she has now: “The Mind Trust sees me as a human and not just the role I’m in. It did not feel that way in the corporate world.”
Pictured above: Paula’s children; Lydia (left) and James (right)
Read the previous story in this series: “Equality is not enough.”