Heritage Oak Private Education in Yorba Linda
For prospective families of Heritage Oak Private Education in Yorba Linda, their journey begins with Shawna Rhebergen.
As director of admission, Rhebergen manages the entire enrollment process — from inquiry to enrollment.
But her work goes far above that, according to school President Greg Cygan.
“She does everything,” said Cygan. “Shawna created our brochures, banners, summer camp marketing, weekly communication campaign and so much more. Most importantly, she always represents the parents’ perspective when big decisions are made.”
Rhebergen said she’s always enjoyed working with children and their families.
“During high school, I worked at a children’s portrait studio, then as a nanny in college, and as a color guard/dance instructor for various schools and nonprofit organizations,” she said. “These experiences led me to my career in education.”
She said the favorite part of her job is meeting families when their children are toddlers, and then watching those students graduate from Heritage Oak’s middle school program.
One of her passions has involved developing the school’s International Student Program.
“When I interviewed for this position, they had mentioned a desire to begin accepting international students,” said Rhebergen. “The prospect of this excited me because I spent a semester overseas, living with a host family, in college, and it was a transformative experience — one I was excited about giving to other students. I became the Primary Designated School Official for the campus, and was able to begin admitting students from overseas. I researched other schools with successful programs for international students to develop our own program.”
And she’s also taken on many other projects, including the school’s YouTube channel, summer camp planning, managing a phone system for parents during the pandemic, teaching cheer and offering free dance fitness classes to staff.
“I love sharing the exciting things happening on our campus with our parents and community members, and I also enjoy video production and social media, so that’s how our YouTube and other social media sites began,” she said. “Our President Greg Cygan and I also developed a school app, which parents can download, to access information. We implemented our phone calling system years ago, however it came in handy when the pandemic began and we had to send more regular, urgent messages to families. Somehow, I became the voice parents hear at the end of all those calls. Teaching cheer and dance fitness gave me the opportunity to connect with students and other staff members, and share my love of dance.”
Of course, the pandemic has presented its challenges as it has everywhere else.
“A key part of my job is to share our facility with families that I meet,” said Rhebergen. “Though we opened for in-person summer camp in June 2020, we were not able to have visitors on campus for an extended period, so I had to learn how to give virtual tours with new software. Another challenge was not being able to foster the sense of community that we usually were able to build during in-person family events. We held drive-through celebrations throughout the year, and I was so proud to be one of the first schools to offer an outdoor graduation ceremony, where parents watched from their cars and our graduating class stood in a socially distanced circle around our field. I have had to increase my communications with families since the pandemic began, as it is important that everyone is aware of our guidelines and safety protocols, as well as what’s happening on campus since parents are not allowed to visit.”
Despite the challenges, her work keeps her very motivated.
“Since I handle school communications, part of my job is to highlight our alumni and their achievements,” she said. “It is so rewarding to see students that I met when they were very young grow up to do amazing things — and know that I was part of their journey. Some students that I enrolled when they were quite young have even returned to work at the school.”
She said that during the pandemic, there have been many late nights and tough decisions that needed to be made for the school to continue to thrive.
“I work with an amazing team of supportive administrators, so as a team, I think we accomplished things we never thought would have been possible pre-pandemic,” she said.
By Jessica Peralta