Leslie Baker is an avid backpacker and summited Mt. Whitney, California’s tallest peak.
Baker uses expertise to benefit her district during COVID
August 9, 2021
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ACSA Administrators of the Year graphic.
Name: Leslie Baker Award: Confidential Employee of the Year Title: Human Resources Specialist — Certificated, El Dorado Union High School District ACSA highlights: Member since 2006.
In normal times, Leslie Baker plays a key role in recruiting, hiring and onboarding certificated employees for El Dorado Union High School District. But when COVID-19 hit, she took on a new job — managing the district’s substitute teacher finder system while the district struggled with the statewide substitute shortage.
“By adding this responsibility to her workload, Leslie has saved site administrators and site administrative assistants countless hours,” said Tony DeVille, assistant superintendent of human resources for El Dorado Union.
In addition to managing the substitute program, Baker recruited teachers for the district’s Online Distance Learning Program, which accommodates more than 560 students with a staff of 15 teachers. She also coordinated professional development to train teachers in content-specific and remote instruction software.
DeVille said Baker is a “tireless worker” who has proven herself to be an invaluable asset to the district.
“She has a gift for solving complex and challenging situations and she takes a great deal of satisfaction in serving those with whom she comes in contact,” he said.
What’s your favorite quote on leadership?
“Great leaders don’t tell you what to do. They show you how it’s done.”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? “Turn every mistake into a learning experience. Figure out why it happened, how it could have been prevented and come up with a plan so that it doesn’t happen again.”
What’s your best strategy for work/life balance? I wish I had one. I am overcommitted in work and life — but I’m not sure I would know what to do if it were any other way. Although, I will say that the pandemic has definitely made me change the order of some of my priorities.
What are some life hacks that you would recommend for a new administrator? Spend a “day in the work life” of your employees to truly understand the work they do and how they are doing it. And remember that an administrator or supervisor should always be prepared to step in and help. No job is beneath someone’s position — we are all a part of a team.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? I am an avid hiker who developed a passion for backpacking last summer, when I backpacked 72 miles on the High Sierra Trail and summited Mount Whitney. Over the next two summers I will section hike/backpack the entirety of the John Muir Trail. (This is the only time I truly am unavailable for a quick work text or phone call.)
What made you want to become a school administrator? I wanted to work in a position where people understood that children are the priority. Not just their own children, but everyone’s children. I never really thought teaching would be the right fit, so I started looking at positions in other areas of the school district. HR has ended up being an amazing “home” for me.
What are you most proud of accomplishing? Personally: raising two amazing kids. Selfishly: summiting Mt. Whitney. Professionally: I’d have to say this award. To know that my hard work drew the attention of those that nominated me, and also made an impression at the regional and state level, and to hear what people had to say when congratulating me during our Regional Awards Virtual Gala — it is humbling and such an honor, especially this year.
What has the impact of the COVID-19 worldwide health crisis taught you? COVID-19 has rocked everyone’s world. It has taught me that even when the world literally shuts down — we can find a way to educate and serve our kids. The team that I work with has encountered so many “firsts” and seen so much adversity, but we never gave up and we kept finding ways to make things happen. As a mother of an 8th grader, that is what inspired me and kept me going — my kid, and every other kid, deserved to be back in school full time.
2021 Confidential Employee of the Year Leslie Baker.
2021 Confidential Employee of the Year Leslie Baker.
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