Meet Chastity.

Apr 15, 2019 | Blog, Stories

Chastity Catchings, Founding Operations Director, Green Dot Rainier Valley Leadership Academy

My role makes it possible for my school to serve the whole student, the whole family.

As Director of Operations, my role covers everything outside of academics—the facility, transportation, nutrition, enrichment activities, family engagement, budgeting, and financing. It includes enrollment and recruitment, managing non-academic staff, and overseeing many things that keep our school functioning smoothly.  If there is anything other than instruction involved, I’m there!

From day one, our leadership team was aligned in our mission to build a school for the community – a belief in investing in relationships and being communicative. At RVLA, every operational decision I make has the needs of our families in mind.

Before we launched our school in 2017, I was responsible for building our family engagement plan, and making sure that families were invested in our mission, despite having no building and no experience with Green Dot. This literally meant knocking on doors and asking folks to take a chance on a school that didn’t exist yet, telling them, “It will be in a dirt parking lot with portables… but we have your kids’ best interest in mind, and we will do whatever we need to make your child successful!” By the first day of school, we had 150 students enrolled.

My role makes it possible for my school to serve the whole student, the whole family. What I love the most about my job is interacting with kids and getting to know their families; and translating what I know about their needs into our operations. I love seeing kids grow and thrive, and keeping operations running smoothly is my contribution to their education.

I’ve spent 15 years working in administrative-based management in a variety of public, nonprofit, and for-profit roles. I’ve worked with charter public schools for the past 6 years, first in Hawaii, and I just celebrated my two-year anniversary with Green Dot Washington.

Prior to being in schools, I worked with adults who were trying to get their high school diploma, including currently and formerly incarcerated individuals. Working with people later in their life, I would hear, “I wish I would have had someone earlier along the way to support me.” Today, I get to work with students while they are building their future, before they reach that point ten years down the line.

My job is fulfilling because I know what I do day-to-day has a real impact on our kids’ futures.

At Green Dot, we have the unrelenting belief that all students have the potential to go to college. Many students have aspirations, but don’t have the foundation of a mom, dad, or grandma who went to college. I love being part of the team rallying behind them to get them to and through college.

A particular student – we’ll call her Sasha – joined us a 6th grade founder, several grade levels behind in Reading and Math. I met her mom at a coffee shop, and I really got to know Sasha as a student, engaging her in projects that involved solving real-life math problems. By the end of that year, she had grown two grade levels and beat her growth goal. And most importantly, she came to the realization that “I am smart, I can do this!” It was one of those moments where I felt certain that my work really matters.

To this day, Sasha works at the front desk and her confidence has totally changed. It’s in her now—this belief that she can achieve. The adults in her life always believed it; she just needed a little push. It’s amazing to be part of something like that.

Ultimately, operations is all about the student, and it’s not a typical 9-5 job. It requires long days, long nights, working over the summer, answering phone calls from parents at 10:00 p.m. and fielding questions from parents in the grocery store over the weekends. But if you want to build something from the ground up, and if you thrive on being in a constant state of iteration where the solution always comes back to what’s best for kids, the reward makes all the hard parts worthwhile.