Teachers Step up as Class Deans

After thirty years at Padua, Mrs. Manelski decided to retire. Instead of hiring one faculty member to replace her role, Padua’s administration decided to assign two teachers to be the Under Class Dean of Students and the Upper Class Dean of Students.

Mrs. Giaquinto is the new Under Class Dean for the freshman and sophomores. Aside from her role as dean, Giaquinto teaches gym and health classes. She chose to become an Under Class Dean because she only teaches freshman and sophomores, and her classes allowed her to build a relationship with them.

Outside of school, Giaquinto lives a very active life, going to the gym and running often. She also has two college-age children and is enjoying her time as a new “empty nester.”

Mrs. Kilmon became the Upper Class Dean for the juniors and seniors. Along with her new role, she teaches religion classes to sophomores and seniors. She enjoys spending time with her family and her five-month-old daughter, Magnolia, as well as hunting, baking, and exploring the outdoors.

Mrs. Giaquinto has been looking forward to this position for years. “This [role] was something that I had been thinking about for a number of years and had even talked to Mrs Manelski about… many many years ago,” she said. (Abigail C. ’21)

The position of “Dean” isn’t new for Padua. When Mrs. Menalski was the Dean of Students, she took on the roles of both Under and Upper Class Deans.

“It’s a position that has been a part of Padua as long as I have known,” said Kilmon. “They [the administration] wanted to move in a different direction this year… to help to create a better community between the adult representative, the students, and the families.”

To help ease the transition into their new roles, Giaquinto and Kilmon attended webinars and virtual meetings with the administration. Also, they revised the handbook to reflect the school’s new Covid-19 procedures. In the future, Giaquinto plans to earn leadership certifications.

Both Giaquinto and Kilmon have been interested in this position for several years.

“This [role] was something that I had been thinking about for a number of years and had even talked to Mrs. Manelski about… many, many years ago,” said Giaquinto.

Kilmon agreed, saying, “It has been one of my professional goals since joining the education field to someday become a Class Dean, and I was so grateful.”

To help juggle their teaching schedules and dean responsibilities, the administration allowed Giaquinto and Kilmon not to do additional responsibilities that most teachers must fulfill.

“When you see a substitute coming to your classroom with those green slips, that’s not something that I would have to do this year,” said Giaquinto. “And with our new schedule, we have prep periods that are much longer… so on my off periods, I can juggle issues that are happening within the building.”

Kilmon’s schedule is a bit more challenging with eight classes this semester and a newborn baby. In fact, she missed the first few weeks of school for her maternity leave. However, Kilmon doesn’t think that her other commitments will get in the way of her position as Dean.

My life is very scheduled. Fortunately, I am the type of person who really enjoys to be busy all of the time, so [I cope by] just staying on top of my schedule and staying organized. I’m excited to have this position as well as still teaching.””

— Kilmon

“My life is very scheduled,” she said. “Fortunately, I am the type of person who really enjoys to be busy all of the time, so [I cope by] just staying on top of my schedule and staying organized. I’m excited to have this position as well as still teaching.”

To follow Covid-19 procedures, the Class Deans moved their office to the old Finance Office. This new space allows them to each have their own rooms and a communal office space in the middle. The Finance Office moved to the Annex and the new Diversity Board moved into Mrs. Manelski’s old space.

“My first year of teaching here I taught in five different classrooms, so I didn’t really have a home base,” said Kilmon. “Being able to have an office – and a shared office together – is really convenient for communication and also to have a student know exactly where I am and how to find me if they need to.”

However, if students need to find Giaquinto on short notice, she may still be in her old office in the Gym.

“I still spend most of my time upstairs in the gym just because that’s where both my classes are and since I do have that office up there,” she said. “I typically would just use this [office] if I had to have a parent meeting or student meeting.”

In this new office, there will be filing cabinets filled with extra uniform pieces for students who forget theirs.

“Everything is actually stored within the filing cabinet so it still looks nice,” said Giaquinto. “But once you open it up, you’ll see a plethora of sizes of shirts, pants, socks, shoes, and whatever students might need.”

Aside from uniform issues, the Class Deans are ready to help facilitate issues between students and teachers, as well as give detentions. They also have a new role, which is enforcing Covid-19 procedures.

Mrs. Kilmon wanted to become a Class Dean for years. “It has been one of my professional goals since joining the education field to someday become a Class Dean and I was so grateful,” she said. (Abigail C. ’21)

Although their position largely includes disciplinarian elements, Kilmon stressed that this isn’t their only role.

“While [keeping order] is important to me, something that is more important is to help to create that sense of relationship and community,” she said. “And if discipline is a part of that, so be it.”

Both Giaquinto and Kilmon are not worried that the disciplinarian side of their job will affect the relationship they built with their students.

“…There is a certain level of mutual respect between myself and the students,” said Giaquinto. “And I think that even as they get older, they understand what those expectations are… They know what kind of teacher I am [and] in turn they know what kind of person I am.”

Kilmon agreed, adding, “I am not here to be [just] your friend. I am here to show you compassion and help you to become a better person. If the disciplinarian action needs to happen, that is a part of what the students are aware of. Education comes first and then having fun in the classroom.”

If students have a problem that they aren’t sure who to ask for help, Giaquninto said, “You can always send us an email and we can try and get you in contact with whoever it is that you need. We’re always here to help.”

Overall, Kilmon and Giaquinto are ready and excited to take on this new role.

“Mrs. Manelski… has been a great mentor to me,” Kilmon said. “We’ve spent a lot of time together in meetings, in prayer, talking about our lives and our journeys together… I feel very honored to be following in her footsteps.”