Get to Know Kristina Garcia, HR Manager

With the closure of our schools in March due to COVID-19, so much has changed about the way we conduct learning in our pre-school, elementary, and middle school classrooms. But one thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to our scholars and families. In this series, we’ll highlight our teachers and staff and the ways they’ve adapted to continue educating and supporting scholars through COVID-19.  

How long have you been with Christopher House 

Two years. I started as a Human Resources Intern in June 2018, transitioned to Human Resources Assistant in October 2018, and I was recently promoted to Human Resources Manager. 

Can you explain your role? What are your main responsibilities?  

My role is to maintain a positive work environment, maintain a positive relationship between employees and the HR department, promote Christopher House’s culture through employee events, help staff with benefits and answer any questions, and recognize staff who have gone above and beyond. I also do payroll, recruiting, and help my supervisor and managers at all the locations with any policies and procedures.   

How has COVID-19 impacted your work?  

It’s impacted my work a lot, because I can’t meet with employees in person anymore. Everything is through email. I miss seeing everyone’s faces and talking to people 

Employee’s concerns have also been really different due to COVID-19. It’s been harder to respond to questions because it’s such an ever-changing virus. Its such an emotional and difficult time because everybody is dealing with the virus in their own way and has faced different challenges, whether someone passed away in their family, or they or their loved one had the virus themselves. Working from home has also been hard for a lot of people because they have kids and can’t be on the computer for eight hours a day 

Usually, in HR, we just have specific policies and specific answers. Recently, I’ve had a lot of tough conversations that I’ve never really had to have before because of the uncertainty of this time.   

How are you continuing to connect with staff 

I try to be really prompt when someone has a question. I want them to know I’m still hearing their concerns and still here to answer any questions.  

What are you most looking forward to after quarantine?  

Honestly, just going back to my normal work week. This has been an eye-opening experience and a reminder to be grateful for your day to day job and schedule. I feel like I took for granted my drive to work and seeing everybody at the schools.  

When we get back, I’m going to be so excited to just say hi to everyone in the morning. I’m looking forward to seeing employees again in person and being at the sites. Hopefully, we can have a big, cool employee appreciation event when it’s safe to do so.  

What advice do you give staff for coping with COVID-19?  

When we were all working from home, I would say, make sure you have a point in your day where you can relax and just not think about work and do something that brings you happiness. And remember that I’m always there if you need someone to talk to or if you need to vent about something. Now that people are going back to work, we have been encouraging people to step outside and breathe some fresh air, because it’s hard to wear a mask eight hours a day 

I want our staff to know that I’m really grateful for them because not everybody can do the work they do. But their work is so important. It’s already a difficult job, and with the pandemic and racial tensions that are happening right now, we really appreciate the work theyre doing and the time and energy they’re using to help our children and families. We love you guys!