Vibrant Minds Charter School in Anaheim
Just a few things Patty Fabian does for Vibrant Minds Charter School include answering phones, payroll, collaborating with the school district for homeless issues and the meal program, arranging transportation, translation at meetings, cleaning restrooms when needed, tending to sick students and the list goes on.
“I do anything and everything that is needed,” she says. “It’s never boring. Every day is different.”
Though technically her title is lead office clerk/office coordinator, she goes far above and beyond that. Fabian is Parenting OC Magazine’s Top Employee winner for 2023.
“Patty Fabian has worked at our school since we opened in 2015-2016,” says Founding/Executive Director Debra Schroeder, who nominated her. “Her son, who is now in eighth grade, enrolled in our school when we first opened our doors, and Patty interviewed to become a member of our staff. From the beginning, Patty has demonstrated a caring attitude toward the scholars and parents we serve. She goes the extra mile to provide food to families in need, translation for our Spanish-speaking parents, and social-emotional support and guidance to our scholars.”
Fabian says when she learned about Vibrant Minds, she was looking to change her career from banking to something in the service industry.
“The school setting matched my hope to help,” she says. “As a mother, I was hoping to get involved in my son’s education. To get a job in the same school where my son attended was a blessing.”
The meal program became an important part of Fabian’s job over the years.
“It is important to not only nurture kids with education, but also with nutrition,” she says. “This includes early in the morning, so they can focus on learning. Then, throughout the day, they need to be fed. For some parents, there is little food in the house. For others, they are in such a rush that there is little time to eat. As a mother, I’m concerned about the scholars getting a balanced meal throughout the day.”
For her, food distribution goes beyond the school meals. The school partners with Caterina’s Club to provide family dinners. Also, during the school closure because of the pandemic, they handed out food and also worked with a food bank for Saturday food distribution.
She knows she does a lot, but it doesn’t feel like work to her.
“I like to give,” she says. “I like to be of service. I don’t expect any rewards. I just am who I am, and I want to do some good. When you do something, you do it as a giving to the Lord. It’s about the Golden Rule of treating others like you would like to be treated. I also wanted to be a teacher because I loved my second-grade teacher and English teacher in El Salvador. They were good with us. So, I wanted to give back to kids because of what was given to me. Scholars sometimes spend more time at school than at home, so we need to serve as school parents to give them all they need and deserve. I love being the second parent to them.”
Being bilingual, Fabian has been able to connect with parents who speak Spanish. They have learned to trust and share information with her so together they can then help students succeed.
“I help with the connection between school and home,” she says. “I know I have helped parents understand the school system and how to best support their children at home. The scholars’ success makes me feel successful in my work. It’s all about them.”
When she hears about a family in trouble, she does what she can to help. She has brought meals to homes, given gift cards to help as well as offered other support.
Fabian says she’s proud to be part of Vibrant Minds and helping serve students.
“It’s like being part of a family that cares about our scholars and each other,” she says. “We are a co-created school, so this is partly my school. Even during the pandemic, we were able to serve our scholars right away with learning, meals and support. We did this turn-around in one weekend. It made me proud to be part of this.”
She’s also proud of her son, Andres.
“I was blessed to be part of his school every day,” she says. “He’s now in eighth grade, and he’s in honor classes. Part of this is because of the education and teachers at Vibrant Minds. Basically, he got the inspiration from here.”
By Jessica Peralta