1 in 2000: Faye Cassell, “A Bank of Knowledge”

by Molly Johnson, Features Reporter, Belinda Yan, Features Reporter, and Emma Zhang, Features Editor
photo by Becky Dozortsev, graphic by Julie Wang

While managing and designing schedules for over 1800 students sounds nearly impossible, South’s scheduler and data analyst Faye Cassell has achieved just that through her work behind the scenes. 

“To me, the schedule is one giant puzzle. How can we have as many students as possible [get the] classes that they want? [How can we] make sure that teachers are getting a schedule that’s manageable for them?” she said. “Being able to bring it all together is what I really like about it.”

Before taking up her job as a scheduler, Cassell was a world history teacher mentored by fellow history teacher Jamie Rinaldi; he said he noticed her passion for history and teaching right away. 

“From the first time I walked into her classroom, she was just an absolute master of her craft,” he said. “She knew the content well, she was incredibly confident in front of her students and she had such a skillful understanding of how to make history accessible to young people.”

Records secretary Lisa Mix said that Cassell’s teaching background equipped her well for her current job, despite the incomparable responsibilities that come with each.

“She can run a room and keep structure to a meeting very well,” she said. “I can definitely see her teaching side come out, especially when she’s helping me and my fellow colleagues learn new programs.”

On top of everything, the past two years have been abnormal, especially for a scheduler. South experienced significant schedule changes from last winter’s hybrid cohort learning model to this year’s implementation of a WIN Block system. Cassell has seamlessly responded to the constant adjustments that come with these inevitable hitches. 

“What’s hard is when you are working with a bunch of different groups who have competing interests,” Cassell said. “Balancing all of those different opinions at the same time can sometimes be challenging, and not everyone is going to get what they want.”

Rinaldi said that despite scheduling being a challenging job, Cassell gives it her all. 

“There are certain things about running a school that are just difficult, and scheduling is one of them. In a school where you have almost 2000 students, that’s 2000 moving pieces across seven blocks,” he said. “She’s not going to rest until she finds a solution or has exhausted all possibilities.”

Although she is fully invested in her role as a scheduler, Cassell has continued to stay connected to other parts of the South community; she serves as the faculty advisor to South Senate.

“She’s still so involved with her students,” Mix said. “That’s a great balance for her because obviously she loved her students when she was a teacher, but somehow the role that she’s in now fits her better, and she still wants to be involved.”

Senate president Eve Cohen said that the South Senate is grateful to have an advisor who has insight into the administration. 

“She is the advisor that we really need in Senate right now,” she said. “The past two years have been the most active we’ve ever been, and she’s able to provide us with the information and guidance that we need.”

Further beyond her extensive expertise in history and scheduling, Mix said that she can go to Cassell for anything.

“She is a bank of knowledge. I know that if I have a question, she’ll most likely know it, and if not, she knows the people that will.”

Math department head Alex Kraus works on scheduling with Cassell, and said that he sees her dedication and hard work firsthand. 

“I am in constant awe of Faye’s ability to manage the sheer volume of data and information that is associated with running an institution of this size,” he said. “I am still waiting for Faye to be nominated for sainthood.”