Jamie Leopold reflects on new challenges in just her second year at Burke

Jamie Leopold only started her career at Burke last year but has already had a turbulent experience, from adjusting to virtual instruction to taking over for Kelly Falk as Director of Student Activities. 

“It’s challenging, but I think now that we’re in November, it’s getting easier for me and for the students,” Leopold explained regarding virtual learning. “The beginning of the school year was definitely a little difficult. But I think the faculty and staff and everyone at Burke has done a good job of adjusting to the new virtual world.”

When it comes to virtual learning, Leopold lamented the difficulty she had in connecting with students, especially those who aren’t in any of her classes. She misses the conversations she could have with kids in the halls and the ease with which students could ask her questions about homework. 

“I just miss the small interactions throughout the day of just being to pass students and other staff members in the hallway and say hi and just have those quick conversations.” she said. “If students aren’t in my class, I don’t get to see them.” 

Another new adjustment Leopold has made this year is taking over as Director of Student Activities at Burke.

“I’m also in charge of student government, so I meet with the co-presidents and also the grade reps and kind of help them with any proposals or any activities that they want to do. I help them make that happen.” 

The duties include facilitating assembly, managing club schedules and meetings, and working with SGA presidents and grade representatives, all things that must happen virtually this year. 

For Leopold, having these meetings over Zoom means that she must be creative in her ideas and planning. She has to do things like help make online grade competitions engaging and fun and keep the attention of students at assemblies on Zoom. 

“I definitely have had to be more creative than I thought I could ever be just because planning grade competitions over Zoom is obviously a lot different than planning them in person.” Leopold said. “I’ve had to kind of switch my brain and try to think of activities that will be engaging in the virtual world but also technologically possible, because there are some things you just can’t do over Zoom.” 

Leopold also had her wedding scheduled for this summer, and although the pandemic prevented her from having the wedding as planned, Leopold still was able to have a small ceremony with her closest friends and family in August.  

“My husband and I were planning on having a 250-person wedding and obviously because of the pandemic, we couldn’t do that. But it was really important for both of us to still get married,” she explained. “On August 1st, we still got married, but we did a very small, intimate ceremony in my parent’s backyard in the house that I grew up in.” 

Despite the difficulties that pandemic has caused for her wedding and assembly planning, Leopold expressed her appreciation for her time in meetings and in class. Like most, she hopes to soon return to some semblance of normalcy and continue to thrive in the Burke community, no matter what role she takes on.