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Grand River Registrar Values Relationships

The workplace scenery has changed for many employees in the past few months, and registrars are no different. When Joni McCarthy, registrar at Grand River Academy (GRA), found out she’d be working from home, she never expected it to last as long as it did.

When she got the order to go home, she tried to think critically about what she would need to support herself, so when she did go back, she’d be in a good place. So she packed up her things and recreated her office at home. In her role, it’s important to communicate and connect with families, so she brought what she needed to continue that process.

Registrars are a vital part of National Heritage Academies (NHA). Not only are they accountable for the organization and daily functioning of student enrollment management, but they also work with the student data information system and maintain compliance with other requirements.

Mrs. McCarthy’s work didn’t stop when she went remote, and it certainly didn’t stop when summer hit. She misses having daily interactions with families, but she is still able to connect with phone calls. “When you work with the kids and their parents every day, you build relationships with them,” said Mrs. McCarthy. “It’s hard to not see them, so I get excited when I get to talk to parents and tell them to tell their student that Mrs. McCarthy says hi.”

She believes that building relationships is foundational to what she does as a registrar. “My job is far more than watching numbers and filling seats,” she reflected. “Everything starts with relationships.”

To start out on the right foot, she makes it a point to call newly accepted families within 24 hours to congratulate them and answer any questions they have. Once a family joins GRA, she always tells them that they are part of the school family.

“I let them know that I am always available if they need help to either meet their need or direct them to the person who can meet their need,” said Mrs. McCarthy. “I make sure they know they will never wonder what is going on in the school because we are known for our excellent communication.”

She also values approaching new families as real people by identifying their concerns and frustrations, and letting them know that they’re in the same boat. She lets families know that she’s a parent, too, so she understands the frustration that comes from waiting and not knowing. “When people realize you’re a real person and we’re not giving them a stock answer, they feel more connected to us,” said Mrs. McCarthy.

Though she focuses on building relationships with families, she has also had the opportunity to meet other schools and their office staff by being a mentor to new registrars over the last few years. She is always looking for ways to grow and improve, and this experience has allowed her to do just that.

“Joni has an amazing positive attitude and encourages everyone,” said Ralph Garza, principal at Grand River. “She is well-loved by students, staff, and families. She cares about GRA and it shows by her actions every day.”

Keep up the great work, Mrs. McCarthy!