By Ary Hammerman
Ary Hammerman sat down with Antonella Mackarey, receptionist/support staff, to discuss her role at TLS. Read the entertaining Q & A to find out more!
Q: How long have you worked at TLS?
Antonella Mackarey: 10 years this month!
Q: What is a day in your life like?
AM: Coffee first, always! I usually get here around 8:00 a.m.and get everything ready, cutting up and signing the late passes, answering anyone’s questions who has been waiting for me, and making sure arrival goes smoothly. Then, once everything has calmed down and classes have started, I go over the calendar for the day, which has the list of visitors. I make sure they are all vaccinated and clear them with Greg so they can enter more easily. Then, I go over attendance with the team and make sure everyone is here, and people who aren’t here are kept track of. I call parents and answer any questions, I’m pretty much always on the phone! Then, it’s usually lunch time and I give anyone who forgot their lunch and any visitors who need tickets to get food. From 1:00-2:00 p.m., I usually go out to lunch and leave someone at the desk. It’s a nice break, but I miss the students! I usually have tons of emails and calls to answer when I get back, so I help with that. I also have the key to the supply room and I’m in charge of the faculty mail and keeping everything organized. If anyone is having a tech or maintenance issue, I am the liaison to make sure they are aware of the problem and can fix it as soon as possible. Then it’s time to get ready for dismissal, so I work with Jill from transportation and call bus companies if I need to. After everyone leaves, I get ready for the next day. I do tons of things every day, it always goes by fast and is very busy. I like doing something different every day, though.
Q: What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of your job?
AM: Being a sense of comfort and support for all the students and always trying to help them with whatever they need. Also, helping their parents when they call or email me for any reason. My least favorite is when the students are not in school.
Q: As a staff member who isn’t Jewish, what makes your experience in the school unique?
AM: I say sometimes, I basically feel Jewish! I love this community so much, there is such a sense of love and compassion. Both my parents unfortunately passed in the last couple of years, and even though I wasn’t a Jew, the absolute kindness and inclusivity I felt was just amazing. I truly feel that everyone comes together to help and everyone is just a ray of sunshine. It’s so interesting to see a different religion and get to understand everything happening, especially on fun holidays, like Purim!
Q: Can you tell me a bit about your family?
AM: My parents were born, raised and married in Italy. They came to America and lived in White Plains, NY. I have two sisters (I’m the middle child) and two brothers-in-law. I am blessed to also have an incredible niece and amazing nephew, both currently attending Cornell University. Most of my family is still in Italy, so I go visit them sometimes. They live in an amazing community near Rome where everything is so simple and peaceful.
Q: How has TLS changed throughout COVID?
AM: Although it has been very challenging at times, especially in the beginning, I feel we have all become closer, stronger, and braver than ever. We have leaned on each other when we needed to and helped one another get through the changes, adapting accordingly. Change is always difficult, no doubt, but we should all be very proud of ourselves and how we have been getting through the many changes we have been faced with. Dr. Kay and the rest of the administration have been incredible, and I am glad to have been even a small part of the effort to make school safe.
Q: What was your role throughout COVID?
AM: From the beginning I have been a small part of an amazing COVID response team, assisting them with getting the school ready for reopening and making sure we had everything needed to keep everyone as comfortable and safe as possible. I follow their lead, and this continues year-round as we navigate through the many changes that have occurred with COVID. We order PPE when needed and make sure anyone who enters the school shows us their proof of vaccination. I work closely with our COO, Smadar Amidror, and assist her with anything she recommends going forward in regards to COVID.
Q: Who is a student you remember?
AM: I remember all of you, since each and every one of you are very unique and special to me in your own way.
Q: Do you eat school lunch, and if so, what is your favorite meal?
AM: I do not eat the school lunch here because it’s difficult to eat at my desk, so I take the time to run out, take a break and get one of my favorite meals with different coworkers. My favorite meal is sushi.
Q: What time do you arrive at school and what time do you go home?
AM: My typical hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with the exception of Fridays (which is 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 or 3:30 p.m. depending on the particular time of year).
Q: What did you do before coming to The Leffell School?
AM: I worked at an executive recruiting firm for about 10 years when I first got out of college (until my boss retired), and then I worked for a Bankruptcy/Real Estate firm for several attorneys. I was also an Appraisal Manager to many appraisers nationwide.
Q: How much longer do you see yourself at this school?
AM: I have no plans to leave this amazing school. I love it here. Sometimes a coworker will say, ‘oh that family is difficult’, but I always see the best in everything and just try to do everything for the kids.