Do you know Mrs. Olive Giles, who serves as the Child Study Team and Guidance Department secretary at Princeton High School? Here's a brief introduction!
Are you involved in organizing activities for Black History 365?I have been involved in the Black History programs since 1998, by heading the PHS Inspirational Choir. We used our 'club' time to delve into the originals of black/African music, to talk about our common experiences across the diaspora, and to use music to tie our familial histories together.
This year, the BLM events that I will look forward to including the students reading children's African American authored book read-ins (video online distributed to PPS elementary schools), and the PHS daily Black history facts read/announced by the PHS students.
In April we have Paul Robeson Week coming up (in partnership with the Paul Robeson House of Princeton). I wrote a grant and have collaborated with PREA to cover the funds needed to have a historic artifact refurbished and presented to the PHS Guidance Department as a museum quality piece of Princeton's African American history. Mrs. Shirley Satterfield, PHS Counselor Emeritus, and a prominent Princeton, NJ historian is spearheading the event.
When did you start working for PPS?January 1993
What is a typical day like?After taking stock of the nightly emails/voicemails, I start by finding out what is on the team's schedule for the day. Anticipation is a big part of the job. There are also Child Study Team meetings to arrange and contacting parents, as well as interacting with various outside schools for updates on the out-of-district students.
A great deal of the day is spent on making sure all of the team's dots are connecting to the students, parents and administrators, sorting out and examining spreadsheets for anomalies, inconsistencies that might affect field outcomes, and learning new technology to get the job done.
What do you like about your job?I like that no two days are the same. There is no 'routine' to this job, and I like that you must be flexible to manage unforeseen challenges that come to our PHS CST door. Special education matters are never dull, and there is so much to learn about current issues and the ever changing solutions.
Are there things you hope to change or improve?At PPS, I have worked behind the scenes as an Officer of our local, PRESSA (Princeton Regional Educational Support Staff Association) and work tirelessly to have our position respected by the staff, students and community. I have provided grants over the years to help our local with educationally outreaching to the Princetonians, to let them know that ESPs (Educational Support Professionals) are just as invested in the student's education as the certificated members of our district. An example of this is that on March 2 of every year, PRESSA makes deliveries of Dr. Suess books, provided by a grant to Mercer County Ed. Association, to the Penn Med maternity ward for children born on (or around) that date).
Over the years, I have also corresponded with district leadership to have them understand the importance of them providing workshops for the Custodians/Grounds Crew as well as the Secretarial staff. Instructional Assistants are provided with relevant workshops each year, but the other two units are lacking in being updated on what the current practices are in the profession.
What do you do when you are not working? Hobbies, volunteer activities, fun stuff?I am a practicing life-long musician. I have a music degree, met my husband in the Music Department in college, and have performed in several countries.
I currently sing with members of the Einstein Alley Musician's Collaborative (6 years now), can be seen locally at the Princeton Public Library's music series. My husband (and our son, on one occasion) and I also volunteer our musical services to the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice (Princeton, NJ). The pandemic has us in limbo, but we still make music whenever, wherever we can! I also sit on several education committees in the county, state, and in Washington, DC.
Would you like to share anything about your interests or your life that might surprise your PHS/PPS colleagues?Both my husband (Michael Giles), and I are classically trained musicians who have music degrees. Mike was stopped one time by another Superintendent here at PPS who asked what Jazz music he plays. The Supt. was stunned when Mike rattled of the orchestras and pieces he had performed over the years. We overlap in lots of genres--in work, in education and in life!
To learn more about Mrs. Giles, please check out this podcast produced by PHS students:
Thank you to Mrs. Giles from PPS!
- Princeton High School News