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Know Your Pelicans

Meet Deanna Martinez (she/her/hers)

Assistant to the College Counselors

Know Your Pelicans

What are your impressions of Packer so far? Our students? Your colleagues?

Despite being new at Packer (and continuously getting lost on its many winding staircases during my hikes to fit in 10,000 steps a day), it oddly feels like a homecoming. Be that as it may, I have so many connections to Packer's location, its people, and its communities. This area of Brooklyn Heights is my old stomping grounds that I shared with my friends during high school and college. When I come into Packer each morning and am greeted by Rob, he immediately reminds me of home and all of the families I grew up with in Bensonhurst. When I go upstairs and see Roland, I am reminded of his best friend who gave me one of my first jobs in education many years ago. When I go downstairs and see Alicia, I am reminded of the dance studio we both used to teach at, and the students from that dance studio who are current Packer students. When I go to our POC faculty/staff events and Spectrum meetings, I feel seen in the different facets of my identity that make me, me. My ultimate impression of Packer so far is that it is new, but it has also been a long time coming.

What do you teach? What is one of your favorite parts of the curriculum? 

I assist the College Counseling Office by handling a great deal of our department’s administrative duties in regards to scheduling, communication, organization, and events. One of my largest responsibilities is digitally organizing and sending all of the supporting documents for somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 college applications a year. My favorite part of my role, though, is what happens off-screen: My job allows me many small but frequent side chats with students in passing within the Upper School Office. Recently, I found out one student shares the same multiracial identity as me: Jew-Rican! We both agreed it was so surprising but affirming to see yourself reflected in someone else.

Outside of your job at Packer, what do you love to do?

I am a curious soul and my interests are all scattered around (very Gemini moon of me). Some main interests include traveling, astrology, and sports. I am excitedly awaiting the Summer Olympic Games, and my dream is to one day travel to that year’s respective host country to watch the events live (during my favorite and most competitive season – Leo season, of course)!

What's one thing most people at Packer would not know about you?

News of me being a dancer is slowly spreading through Packer thanks to my work in the faculty and staff art exhibition, the second grade dance classes I guest taught, the feature of me in the Prism, and my appearance randomly breakdancing with my former dance student in the Commons. However, what most people at Packer may not know is how much time and energy I have dedicated to dance. I studied many genres of dance for 25 years. I went to a performing arts high school across the street from Julliard where I spent half of my day, every day, dancing. I majored in dance in college. I received an MA in Dance Education from NYU. I became a published author in national and international dance journals. I have performed and taught in Italy, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uganda. This is actually my first year not teaching dance in over a decade and what a transition it has been. Regardless, dance has been a part of my life since when I was in diapers, and it will likely continue to be until I am in diapers again!

Tell us about a specific time you found your job especially rewarding. 

After completing my first season with the College Counseling Office, we have entered an intensely emotional time in which the seniors are receiving their decision notifications. When the students are overwhelmed with excitement by the news, it is rewarding to know I played a small part in their college application process. When the students are underwhelmed by the news, it is rewarding to comfort students by reminding them that they are not defined by this decision made by others, and that there is still so much to come for each of them. In both situations, it's rewarding to help students bridge their time between Packer and what is on their horizon by honoring endings and beginnings.

Tell us about a specific time you learned something from our students.

Although I do not work as directly with our students as their teachers do, I learn so much from them by working behind the scenes. Through all of my administrative duties that support their college search and applications, I become very well-acquainted with their activities at Packer. Our students report news, complete science research, choreograph, compose, produce shows, lead cultural clubs, travel, play fall sports, play winter sports, play spring sports, write poetry, make art, take a class in a subject that they have no experience in, take a class in a subject that they have so much experience in… they follow their MANY passions. As I pursued my education, I felt the need to narrow my focus; it is wonderful to be reminded that I can and should indulge in all of my interests, no matter how directly related or unrelated they may seem.

What are the strengths of your department?

The strengths of my department indubitably can be found in its expertise, interconnectedness, and effort. Our college counselors are a force! Some of them have been here long enough to see a student go off from the ELC to their chosen university, and with that type of longevity comes such gems of wisdom. They work alongside each other seamlessly so often and so intricately that even though a student only gets assigned one college counselor, they are really gaining three. The counselors are meeting with students, meeting with families, calling admissions officers, visiting colleges nationally and internationally, attending conferences, writing thoughtful and individually crafted letters of recommendation… they are legendary. These women are an endless well of knowledge and it is lovely to assist them, learn from them, and help contribute to the next steps of our juniors' and seniors' lives!

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