Unsung Star of D-Hall: Troy Saunders

Here at Exeter, we know our teachers, we know our classmates. But who knows the countless people who labor behind the scenes to make the Summer School such a satisfying experience?

Take Troy Saunders, for example.

Saunders, 54,  is the supervisor in the Dining Hall dishroom, making sure students have clean plates, glasses and cutlery to eat from. Saunders is from Boston and he has been working here at Exeter for nine years. He works hard — 8 hours a day.

He started off low. “At first, I was a pot washer, I worked part time here and full time at Osram,” Saunders said, referring to the lighting company. He says the following about his job: “It’s not hard but it can be quite tedious at times. Depending on the time of the day, it can be overwhelming. There is a lot of work to be done in a very short amount of time.”

During his free time, he deals with his own transportation business. He lives in Rochester, New Hampshire, with his wife and they have a son and daughter in their 20s. 

Saunders said that his wife’s mother died and that his wife wasn’t able to go to her mother’s funeral. It was a hard time it was for his wife. In her sadness, Saunders said, she hallucinated that she was talking to her mother. She would cry all the time.

But he helped his wife through the trauma, crying with her at times. He was there for her and as time passed, she got better and better.

“What really matters is having a shoulder to cry on,” he recalled. “I wanted my wife to be happy, I did not like seeing her crying. I was there for her and I for sure know that if I ever have to go through such a struggle, she will be the one holding my hand and supporting me. This is what all family is about. Love and support.”

Saunders told about his memories of talking to students and helping them  with the problems they face. “I supported a lot of people here,” he said. “A lot of kids… I can’t stand watching people getting sad. I have the need to help them in every way.” 

We asked Troy Saunders: “How do you do it?”

He replied: “Dedication and willing to do anything for my family.”


The Best Job at Exeter: Manager of The Grill

The Grill is da bomb! It is just the best place to buy your needs as well as some very tasty food. Workers at The Grill are very kind and happy to serve students but do you know who is responsible for its amazing performance?

Bob Brown is the manager of The Grill. He is 60 years old, yet looks 45. He has been working at PEA for 8 years. “I love my job. I like it a lot. It suits me very well,” said Brown. He is 60 years old. He works about 9 hours a day, 45 hours a week which can be very tough at times. As the manager, he has to cover for anyone who quits until he finds a replacement.

Even though Brown says his job is not hard, it actually is very difficult. “If the operation is running smoothly than everything is okay,” he said. “Even then, I have to do a lot of ordering. I have to talk to several companies in order to talk about what we need for The Grill.”

Brown lives in Newmarket, which is about 12 miles from campus. He has a big family, 3 boys, and 3 girls. “My children are grown ups. My oldest child is 35, and my youngest child is 22.” Brown likes fishing. He has a boat and he tries to get out every weekend, often fishing in the ocean.

As  manager of The Grill, Brown works at PEA in the regular session as well. “For regular session, it is basically the same work, just different kids. Summer school is the busiest because kids don’t have that much time during regular session. During regular session, students have class between 8 a.m to 6 p.m. They can’t come to The Grill as much as summer school students do, due to their lack of time.”

Brown has a very good relationship with his crew. Everybody likes him and listens to his instructions. Sometimes The Grill is very busy but they get everyone what they need in no time. They do their job fast and very well. Brown can do anything at The Grill. He can cook as well as serve as cashier.


The Three Graces Behind PEA Summer

Who really makes Summer School happen?

Well, Amy Fish, and Karin Tenney-Helfrich, along with Brenda Gargas, to name three.

There is so much to plan for each summer session, it’s amazing that it all gets done with only 3 staff people and the director. Their job is to process applications and make sure that all of the required paperwork is submitted to them. This takes a tremendous amount of time. They are busy from December through May processing students as thousands apply. They send notifications, including acceptance letters and rejections, to all students who apply.

They take care of all of the details of hiring approximately 170 teachers for Summer School including housing, teaching load, HR paperwork, art orders for all art teachers, and chaperones for trips. They do marketing and organizing details for the Summer School College Fair. They take care of all details in the Summer School Office during summer session – lost and found, parent calls, ordering keys, student issues. They send grades and comments to all students after summer school.

Amy Fish started working at PEA on June, 2014. She is a full time employee and she works all year long. Karin Tenney-Helfrich started working at PEA in November of 2007. “ Why am I still working here after 8 summers? — because of the students, said Tenney-Helfrich.  Both she and Fish work around 7-8 hours a day. They work for even a longer time during applications. Their job is really, really difficult. (Gargas was away from the office during the interview.)

“My job is hard in that everything we do is very time consuming and detail oriented,” said Tenney-Helfrich. “Imagine all of the departments on campus to plan our Regular Session and all of the staff they have, we do everything they do with only 3 people and our director.”

Fish agreed. “My job is hard.”

She lives in Exeter. Tenney-Helfrich lives 2 miles from campus. She likes to ride her bicycle and motorcycle. During spring and fall, she likes to walk to work.

Fish is a mother of two. Her husband’s name is Michael. Karin Tenney-Helfrich has a husband and a son. “My son is 21 and goes to school in Hawaii,” she said. “This is the first summer that he has not come home and not being able to visit him has been hard I will get to visit him after Summer School is over. I think that this separation has helped me to deal with parents who are anxious about sending their child away to Exeter for only five weeks.”

Fish loves to spend time at the beach, be outside, in her yard and garden. She goes to the gym in her free time. Karin Tenney-Helfrich and her husband like to go out to spend time with their friends. “I don’t cook so we go out a lot,” she said.

Fish said, “We get a lot of students calling us from all over the world during the application process. It’s so fun getting to know all of the students and then finally meeting all of you! And I love the regular visitors in the summer school office who make my day!”