Welcome to Staff Spotlight! A new interview series where we highlight a staff member and learn more about what they are doing on and off campus. This week we chatted with Ryder Livingston, the upper school coordinator. Ryder is a friendly face who will greet you at Haaga House and will assist our new Upper School Director Ara Brown. Read on for more about Ryder!
Share a brief bio with us. Working at Poly is sort of a homecoming for me because I grew up a block from the school. I’m not an alum but I did get kicked out of the parking lot for rollerblading a couple of times. I went to the Pasadena Waldorf School, where my mom has been an administrator and music teacher for over 20 years. My dad has also been an administrator and now teaches conducting at USC, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before I ended up working in a school as well. Before Poly, I worked in Senator Boxer’s office in Los Angeles for eight years or so doing correspondence and database management. I went to USC and studied political science, which is why I was working in politics. I’ve been at Poly for four and a half years, about half the time I was at the senator’s office. The longer I’m at Poly the more I appreciate the value of working in schools. I was very passionate about politics coming out of college, but, after a few years in that space, it gets harder to see any real progress on the issues you wanted to change. In a school, you can see the effect you’re having in real-time.
What do you do at Poly? My title is upper school coordinator which is vague, but appropriately so. I wear a lot of hats here, I assist the Upper School Director, plan events and communication, provide electronic infrastructure for faculty and students like managing Google calendars and coordinating South Campus events, important documents and dates, planning back to school night, and more. It’s a lot of little things but it really adds up.
What do you enjoy about your work? I really like being here in general, I don’t think there are any aspects that I loathe, which might be the best sign of a great job. I think if I had to say just one thing I enjoy, I would say the community in general. The faculty is extraordinary, the students are precocious, and the support staff is so wonderful. It just makes it feel like more than a workplace. Kind of cheesy, but yeah, it’s the people.
How can others at Poly support you? I feel so supported here already, I don’t really know that there’s a whole lot that people could be doing differently. If I had to pick something, I would ask South Campus folks to try to follow the printed instructions on the mail and fax machines that are right near my desk. I know it’s tempting to ask me how they work but I promise the instructions are all there and I don’t know anything that’s not on the machines already.
We will keep that in mind. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? I spend most of my free time with my wife Katie. We love to go wine tasting, travel, and spend time with our cat (the cat is not invited to travel). I play a lot of disc golf, or “frolf,” to quote George Costanza. Incidentally, I also really love Seinfeld.
What’s something you’ve watched or listened to lately that you’ve enjoyed? I wish I had a really high-brow answer here, like a Proust audiobook or something, but I don’t. The honest answer is probably Wellington Paranormal. It’s a New Zealand-based comedy from the What We Do in the Shadows people. I’ve also been dabbling in making music, so I end up listening to a lot of my own stuff from a creative process/diagnostic point of view. I use a computer-based electronic program that lets you write music on the keyboard. There’s sort of a Stranger Things-inspired synth motif.
Who would you like to compliment for their work at Poly? J
en Fleischer, Catharine Stebbins, and Laurianne Williams immediately come to mind. I also think of the operations, communications, and technology departments, none of which ever get enough credit. And I really would like to compliment the work of the other division assistants. I’m always impressed with how they keep the plates all spinning.