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04 June 2020

HACC Employees Share Tips for Working Remotely while Juggling Family Life

This story is part of our ongoing “HACC Heroes” series. We recognize the severity of the global coronavirus pandemic and its impact on our communities. During this challenging time, we want to thank and recognize HACC employees, students and others who are making a difference. The heroes of this story are employees who are working remotely while their children are at home.

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Since March 19, 2020, all but a few employees and all students at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, have been working and learning remotely as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. Thousands of employees found themselves coping with unique situations as they adjusted to today’s “new normal.”

They are now stay-at-home parents homeschooling children, tending to family needs and keeping up with the demands of their jobs without stepping foot on a HACC campus.

How long they will have to fill these roles is anybody’s guess. One thing is certain: Staying positive goes a long way in managing this sudden shift.

Read below for their tips for getting through these extraordinary times. To find out how they’re doing and what their greatest challenges are, please visit You will be inspired by their stories.

Last updated June 4, 2020 (Names are in alphabetical order)

Every family needs to find what works best for them – there isn’t one “best” way of navigating these times that will work for every family. Jennie Baar, dean, School of Business, Technology and Industry and mom of three children, ages 5, 7 and 10

We need to be especially mindful of our little ones' needs, as this situation can be stressful for them as well. –  Karen Barone, assistant professor of communication and mom of a 6-year-old

Realize that the days may not always go as planned, but be flexible and do your best. – Jenn Boyd, integrated marketing communications coordinator for strategic design and mom of a 12-year-old

Continue to see the bigger picture and know you are doing the best you can! Effort is key, your kids will love you regardless. – Laquietta Braswell, enrollment services specialist and mom of a 6-year-old
Encourage the kids to find ways to brighten someone else’s day. Our kids wrote inspiring words and drew pictures with chalk in the driveway for all of the people walking by. – Wendy Brubaker, Gettysburg Campus director of student development and multicultural programming and mom of two children, ages 13 and 15


We have developed a schedule for the kids ... and have set expected time goals/limits around those categories and allowed them to plan their day out with some guidance.  – Rich Cardamone, assistant vice president, finance and dad of two children, ages 10 and 13

Be easy on yourself and others, these times are unprecedented and there is no guidebook. – Nakia Eckert, director, new student orientation and mom of two children, ages 6 months and 4

Take care of your mental health and well-being so you can continue thriving during these challenging times. You are a parent and you will survive! – Holly Estrada, fiscal support specialist and mom of two children, ages 5 and 16

It is okay to recognize and admit there are days or times when things do not go as planned, but there is always something positive to be taken from a situation or a stressful day and that is where I choose to direct my energy. – Emily Fox, interim director, student success/virtual learning and mom of a 1-year-old

I recommend that parents go easy on themselves and give credit to themselves and their kids for making it work. –  Victoria Gambone, enrollment services specialist and mom of a 9-year-old
Prep the night before. For example, my baby is 4 months old, so I have her bottles/food portioned and the diaper bag is packed as if she was still going to the sitter (extra outfit, bibs, diapers, wipes etc.). This way I don’t have to run around the house for much of anything, it’s all right at my fingertips. – Shequetta Gatling, administrative office technician and mom of a 4-month-old
In these unprecedented times, it’s important to acknowledge and thank the true superheroes who are on the front lines such as the healthcare workers, first responders and all the “essential” workers. – Jeff Gerstein, Harrisburg Campus director of student development and multicultural programming and dad of two children, ages 11 and 13
First and foremost, I have adopted the motto to not be hard on myself. If I have to hand my kids a device or sit them in front of the TV for an hour in order for me to be able to focus on work, I
do it. That would be my number one tip.
– Kristin Graeser, executive assistant to
the president, secretary of the HACC
Board of Trustees and mom of three
children, ages 7, 9 and 10
Help, help, help your colleagues as much as you can! Whether it’s sharing a technical tip, covering a meeting or sending a kind note, we all have something to give. – Lori Hockley, associate professor of management and mom of a 5-year-old
Don’t try to be perfect. The days will not be perfect, and that’s OK. You will have days that go more smoothly than others. – Megan Hoose, integrated marketing communications coordinator for student recruitment and mom of two children, ages 3 and 14 months

If possible, I recommend setting up your work space to minimize distractions. For example, my work space at home is away from anything anyone in my family will need during the day. – Christina Kelley, donor relations officer and mom of 1-year-old
One technique that I have found helpful to juggle my professional duties and personal duties is to have a morning meeting with my kids where we develop a schedule for the day. The schedule is not set in stone, but it does give the kids, my husband who is working from home, and me some structure for the day. – Julie Laeder, adjunct faculty, English as a Second Language and mom of three children, ages 9, 7 and 5
I try to be flexible and patient with my children because sometimes things do not go as I have planned. – Donald Paul Maurer, welding instructor and dad of three children, ages 5, 3 and 15 months
Be sure to give yourself (and each other)
some grace! These times are not normal
and so, we can’t expect our work lives to
go on as normal just at home. Ask for
flexibility, communicate your struggles
and your triumphs. – Heather Pragel,
administrative office specialist in the
School of Business, Technology and
Industry and mom of three children, ages 5, 3 and 14 months

Keep an eye on your children’s online activities and give them chores around the house. – Evelin Schwartz, systems administrator, telecommunications and mom of two children, ages 9 and 16
We have suggested to our kids to try and use the tech to make a movie or to build with Legos – things that require them to imagine and create. – David Shaffer, manager, network and data center operations and dad of two children, ages 8 and 11
It would be great if we could start a mom
group to share tips with each other or
simply vent with someone who gets it. –
Jazmin B. Simpson, associate dean of
academic affairs for business studies
in the School of Business, Technology and Industry and mom of two children, ages 11 months and 16
Most importantly, I have learned to just breathe. It doesn’t have to always go according to plan to still work out perfectly fine. – Mandy Six, director of enrollment services at the Harrisburg Campus and mom of three children, ages 15, 18 and 24
I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping a schedule. I suggest using a weekly calendar to map out each day. – Kayla Lynn Smith, financial aid technician and mom of two children, ages 9 and 13
No one is giving out trophies for the kids with the least amount of screen time, and if that extra hour means you get a shower and a bit of quiet, it’s absolutely necessary. – Tara Stillions Whitehead, adjunct faculty, English and mom of two children, ages 5 and 7
About HACC
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, is the first and largest of Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges. HACC offers approximately 100 career and transfer associate degree, certificate and diploma programs to approximately 19,000 students. Also, the College serves students at its Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York campuses; through virtual learning; and via workforce development and continuing education training. For more information on how HACC is uniquely YOURS, visit Also, follow us on Twitter (@HACC_info), follow us on Instagram (@HACC_edu), like us on Facebook ( and use #HACCNews.

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