When we say we want families involved at Dr. Joseph F. Pollack Academic Center for Excellence (PACE Academy), a tuition-free K-8 elementary school in Southfield, Michigan, we mean it! Meaning, we even have a Family & Student Support Coordinator keeping us united and committed to each other’s success. Meet Ms. Ava Mullen, our parent and caregiver liaison super connector!
Please tell us about your background and how you came to be at PACE Academy.
I enrolled my son in the 1st grade at Edison Oakland (the original PACE Academy twenty years ago!) in September 2000, and immediately became an involved parent at the school. I started volunteering with the parent organization and I was our PAC president in 2008-2009. In 2009 I became a full-time employee, the same year EOPSA became PACE Academy.
Please tell us about your role as Family and Student Support Coordinator.
I love the work that I get to do– being the Family & Student Support Coordinator is essentially a parent liaison. My focus is to help build and strengthen parent engagement by keeping parents and families involved and engaged in their child's education. In my position, communication is key; working to facilitate communication between home and school by way of weekly newsletters, phone calls, emails, text blasts and by coordinating meaningful activities and events around curriculum, helps strengthen learning at home.
What do you love most about your role at PACE Academy?
The best part of my role is getting to know our families, interacting with parents and especially getting to assist families in need. Planning family events and activities also brings me great joy. For the past few years (barring COVID years) we've hosted annual movie parties, the Annual Kalahari Family Retreat, Pistons games and this year we went to our first Red Wings game. All super FUN!
The very best part of my day is morning arrival– there's something special about greeting our kids at the door each morning, it really does it for me!
Tell us about meaningful activities you’re involved with at PACE Academy.
I serve as the McKinney Vento Liaison at PACE. We work to identify families who are in housing transition or may be experiencing homelessness. We then work to help them get the support they need and to remove any barriers to their children's education.
Enrollment and retention are always an important part of our work, we have a pretty fantastic marketing team. Together we work to ensure we are a positive part of our school community and our surrounding neighborhood.
Mrs. Tanner and I also work together monitoring student attendance. I also like planning and assisting with school fundraisers.
In your opinion, what makes a great leader? How do you teach leadership?
Great leaders are first and foremost great listeners. Great leaders are considerate of others, they tend to be deep thinkers, are selfless, generous and encourage others to lead.
What does a day in your school life look like?
I typically have a full day, but I am able to be flexible and assist in various areas throughout the day. I like to start my day by greeting scholars at the main entrance as they arrive at school. Morning arrival allows me to see how our families are doing as I often get to speak with parents at both morning arrival and afternoon dismissal, which is pretty special.
This morning, maybe because it's Monday, I had a few sad kiddos in my office and I assisted them in getting to the right support persons. Today I supported the cafeteria staff during Kinder - 3rd grade scholar's lunch periods.
In the afternoons I check in with a few of our McKinney Vento families, make some calls to parents and I check in on scholars. I return voice messages to families and answer emails.
During dismissal I am in charge of getting the bus kids on their buses– I personally collect the K - 2nd grade bus riders. I then assist with dismissal of scholars on the main entrance/west side dismissal.
When you’re not at our K-8 school, what do you do for fun?
I enjoy spending time with my family more than anything else. We love to cook and have meals together, and play games together, we like to go to concerts, watch our favorite TV programs, and just be together whenever possible.
I am working towards becoming a licensed Massage Therapist - which is one of my bucket list items - almost there and loving every moment!
I really enjoy painting and have far too many favorite bands, movies and books to name. I love all kinds of music, ALL KINDS.
Last October, we adopted a new puppy, Buddha. He's a Daniff (Great Dane/Mastiff mixed breed), he's big and beautiful and our family is so in love with Buddha.
What do you LOVE about PACE Academy- what sets it apart from other schools?
PACE has this genuine family environment, it seems everyone is related to someone else, and I LOVE it! PACE reminds me of my own elementary and middle school experience, my teachers and the staff were concerned for our wellbeing. The same is true at PACE; it's what kept me close to this school when my son was a student here. At PACE, we, the teachers and staff know our kids by name, and we know their families. The very apparent care and concern we have for our kids is powerful, and it sets us apart.
Learn more about our Family & Student Support Coordinator Ms. Ava Mullen and all of our great teachers and administrators at our close-knit and engaged tuition-free K-8 elementary school by calling us at (248) 569-1060 and enroll today!
About PACE Academy
Dr. Joseph F. Pollack Academic Center for Excellence (PACE Academy) is a tuition-free public charter school serving kindergarten through eighth graders in Southfield, Michigan. At PACE Academy, we empower our scholars to realize their fullest potential through meaningful educational opportunities. We partner with our families and community in preparing our scholars to become dynamic leaders in the 21st century by celebrating the importance of collaboration and accountability in all we do. Join our growing school, enroll today!