From The Yield, Spring 2015
In summer 2014, SSATB’s Admission Leadership Council (ALC) launched a pilot mentoring program matching experienced enrollment management professionals with new directors of admission from around the country. The ALC plans to evaluate the effectiveness of the program and potentially expand it in future years. We asked a paired mentor and mentee to discuss their first experiences with the program.
Mentor: Victoria Muradi
Director of Admissions, Durham Academy, Durham, NC
I still remember how tough it was during my first year as an admission director. Eleven years ago, I had a few colleagues I could turn to, and their guidance talked me through many uncertainties and second-guesses. Looking back, I know how invaluable those colleagues were to my development, so when given the opportunity to become a mentor, I quickly volunteered.
DeAnn Pomatto and I initially met at the SSATB Annual Conference in Orlando. Having just finished the Admission Training Institute (ATI), DeAnn had so much information and new ideas whirling around in her head. After getting to know each other, we discussed her concerns about her new school and the admission and enrollment knowledge base she would need to be successful in the competitive St. Louis market. The first thing that jumped out at me was DeAnn’s tremendous experience in the lower school classroom, and we discussed how her experience talking to families and building connections with faculty could translate into shaping the right class for her school.
I helped DeAnn establish some short- and long-term goals, and throughout the fall we talked monthly or emailed to review goals or to discuss topics appropriate to the admission cycle. For example, DeAnn and I talked about open houses in October, preparing for board meetings and budget setting in November, and ongoing communication to prospective families in December. Connecting at these stages helped address some of her immediate concerns and also set the stage for anticipating key points in the upcoming season.
I’ve enjoyed getting to know DeAnn and learning about how other schools and cities approach admission and enrollment. Although she is new to the profession, I can already see she has the drive, skill set, and ambition to be successful in year one and beyond.
Mentee: DeAnn Pomatto
Director of Admission, Forsyth School, St. Louis, MO
After 22 years as a classroom teacher, the prospect of becoming the director of admission at Forsyth School was both thrilling and terrifying. I have now been in this new position for seven months; it is still thrilling and slightly less terrifying!
While my mentor, Victoria, and I have connected less frequently now that our busy seasons have arrived, knowing I can call or email her at any time means that I have the backup I need—an experienced, trusted advisor during a new and exciting, but challenging time. Victoria’s kindness, expertise, and ability to listen with complete objectivity have been just what I needed this year. Having an inside look at how an admission office at a school outside the St. Louis area operates has been invaluable, as it allows me to see the larger enrollment landscape, and it reminds me that there are other challenges and ways to manage through the admission cycle, even as I am sitting in my very own competitive market. Knowing I have access to all the inside workings of the admission office at Durham Academy and Victoria’s many years of experience has been critical to my success and this partnership. I would recommend finding a mentor for anyone new to admission. While it is not necessary for mentors and mentees to connect frequently, it is reassuring to know that the connection is there for support and guidance whenever it might be needed.