Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

A Day in the Life of Julia Leonard


Julia Leonard, also known as Tr. Julia, wakes up at 4:30 am to prepare for the busy day that lies ahead of her. Her work day begins at 6 when she arrives at the school to prepare tasty treats, such as fruit salads, frozen treats, and desserts. 

Julia, a New Jersey native who now lives in North Philadelphia,  has lots of experience working in fields that require a great deal of phenomenal customer service. Julia’s experience at previous jobs helped her accomplish what she does today. She explains, “I used to work at ShopRite at 17, after that I worked at WAWA – I got a chance to work at the one at Broad and Walnut, when the pope was coming down.” Julia has been working at Friends Select for 7 years, with such a degree of versatility; not only does she work in the dining hall, but she is also a pre-K after-school teacher and a cashier (when her coworker Tammy is not there), like the assistant supervisor. She does a lot… Almost everything. “Basically, I’m cross-trained in the kitchen,” she tells me.

Julia؛s day doesn’t end at the same time as the students. Instead, she does her second job, supporting and working with our lower school friends. “The same time I clock out at 2:30, I clock in after school to become a pre-k after-school teacher, which keeps me busy for a while… I’m busy all day until 5:50. I have 5 minutes to slow down and be to myself.”

Julia finds it different working in the dining hall during the day than working with the lower schoolers. “After-school is a little more demanding, [and] working in the kitchen is a little more fast-paced.” She says that working in the after-school is exciting and different. When I asked her to elaborate on why, she began to smile and I saw the light in her eye begin to shine brighter. She explains that working in the after-school gives her a “chance to be a part of educating somebody, helping somebody, and to learn from kids.”

It’s obvious that this is something that Julia is passionate about, so I followed up by asking her how she felt helping to shape young minds.“I have always wanted to do that. Ever since I was younger I wanted to either be a motivational speaker or have something to do with helping a child or [young adults] even middle or upper schoolers, and I, for a while, did not know how, so to have an opportunity to be here is amazing. It’s like ‘Wow I’m doing it, I made it, so it’s cool’,” she says.

I was curious to know the difference in atmosphere between lower school and upper school students. Julia, who interacts with every FSS student, explains to me that, in working with lower school, “there’s a lot of assistance needed, and some days are better than others.” She also says, “lower school has taught me a lot of patience”. Upper school, on the other hand, “just is what it is. [The students] say it how it is and you can go from there. I feel like a lot of [students] are starting to be set in how they’re going to be as an adult.”

With such a demanding, busy work schedule for someone who has been working here for almost a decade, I personally began to wonder what could keep a person working here so long, maintaining that type of dedication. She gave me a few reasons: 1, she has coworkers who are amazing sources of support. Julia’s coworkers describe her as nothing less than a joy to work with. Dynisha Davis, who has been working in the Dining Hall and After-School Departments for all 7 years with Julia, described her as “wonderful to work with” and “always energetic in the morning, ready to work!”

Similarly, Mehki Fisher-Davis, who’s been working with her for 3 years in the After-School Department, describes his working experience with Julia as “such a good time”. He also jokingly states that “it doesn’t even feel like we’re at work sometimes.” Mehki describes Julia as “funny, down to earth, and [she] makes you feel like you’ve known her all your life,” which testifies to her warm, amicable spirit. 

Along with having such a phenomenal support system, Tr. Julia shares another thing that keeps her motivated: “There’s someone who just graduated named Gigi, and she walked up to me and I was on the register, and she was like ‘Tr. Julia, I worship you’, and I had no idea what that meant so I thought it was the coolest thing in the world, like somebody worships me,” she says. “Things like that make me stay, because I’ve never heard anything like that before.”

She also tells me about the Lower School friends that keep her encouraged, “The best part of my job is in the morning, like 7:30. There is a group of pre-k kids who come in every day and they’re like, ‘Tr. Julia! What’s going on? We love you!’”

Julia explains that, “It’s really hard to get up and come here, especially at 4:30 in the morning, but just to know that [they’re there] makes me feel good. That’s a thing that keeps me going.”

Working in such a fast-paced field with barely enough time to express gratitude to people, let alone simply greet someone, I wondered how she felt. When I asked Tr. Julia if she felt respected and appreciated doing her job, she let out an awkward giggle. “From time to time… It’s something I’ve grown with, some days could be different and changed… I’ve spoken to a lot of different people to make myself more comfortable. It’s an in-the-air question. I don’t struggle too much anymore, but I did.”

Julia shares one thing she would change about FSS if she could. “When I first started, Friends Select felt more like a home. It just felt like a big family, and it now feels more airy, or spaced out,” she says.

She adds that, in the past, there were things that all staff would do together that they don’t do now. “There’s a little bit of a lack of communication. I would like to know some of the people I work with, and who I’m around more,” she says.

Stepping away from the school, I wanted to know some of the things Julia is passionate about, especially things she does to practice wellness with such a hectic schedule. “I love writing. I love to write, just about anything. I like to free-write and I like to color, like the adult coloring pages…I use prompts and, through the day, I might just write something random and go back and finish from where I started,” she says.

Not only does Tr. Julia use journaling to decompress from the day, she also uses it to comfort herself after the loss of her father. “My dad passed away, and I feel like this is something that has helped me. I write ‘dear dads’ a lot, just different things that I would say [to him], and I find it to be very helpful and therapeutic. It’s like a bittersweet thing,” she says.

Julia shares some wisdom that we all should live by: treat people how you want to be treated. Why this specific quote? “I had older parents, my dad would always say that, and for a long time I didn’t understand it, and I kind of think that I rebelled against it, but it always makes me feel good to know that, if someone else is having a bad day and you treat them good, then your day can get better, you don’t have to put that same energy out there. This is something that we all should live by,” she says. 




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About the Contributor
Zoie Jackson-Lawrence

Zoie Jackson-Lawrence is a senior at Friends Select School; she has been here since 2017. This year she is covering Friends Select’s Visual Art and Language departments for The Falcon. She is co-leader of Sistah’s Chat and leader of the Gardening Club. She enjoys scrolling through her pins on Pinterest, listening to all 158 of her playlists on Spotify, and tending to her garden.  

Comments (4)

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  • Z

    Zoe losserMay 31, 2024 at 2:21 PM

    Tr. Julia is an amazing role model for the children, she needs a raise 🙂

  • K

    Kalynn RoundtreeMay 31, 2024 at 2:12 PM

    Go aunt JujuI love you. Keeping shining.

  • K

    Kalynn RoundtreeMay 31, 2024 at 12:04 PM

    Go Aunt JujuI love you. Keep shining bright.

  • N

    Nicole RoundtreeMay 31, 2024 at 10:41 AM

    Tr. Julia is such an inspiration to her big sister, Nikki. I love my little sis dearly!