Ms. Florrie Shen: School Accountant, Mom, and Foodie


Crystal Li, Editor-in-Chief

Shanghai—our shared hometown. Immediately, though we had just met minutes ago, it seemed like Ms. Florrie Shen and I knew each other so much better. Though she has been working hard in an office carefully tucked in the corners of Gilman, Ms. Florrie Shen, the current Bishop’s Senior Accountant and Payroll Specialist, has been enjoying her first weeks of campus life. Originally from mainland China, she lived in Chicago before moving to the West Coast. Ms. Florrie Shen takes on many roles in her daily life and is excited to become a longtime member of our school community. 


Q: Where are you from? What made you come to San Diego?

A: I came from mainland China, Shanghai—it’s a long story. The first part of the story is about how I came to the United States. At that time, my boyfriend started to study for a Ph.D. in the US, and I followed him and pursued my master’s degree here at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. At that time, I think there were not a lot of Chinese supermarkets, so we visited Downtown Chicago every week just to get groceries. It has been a while since my boyfriend, now husband, pursued his Ph.D. degree, so I started to work in New Jersey, New York, and then after the graduation of my husband, he found a faculty position at San Diego State University. So the whole family moved from New Jersey to here, San Diego. 

Since we moved here, I think this is the best place in the world. Well, it’s pretty much on the same level as my hometown, Shanghai. The weather, the populations… it’s not too crowded. You’re kind of also having a city feel as well. But of course, the San Diego weather is a huge plus. 


Q: Why did you choose Bishop’s?

A: Previously, I was the Controller of a clinic management company. And during Covid, because my kids were not at school, I resigned, to support my family at home. During the gap year, I was thinking a lot about how I can be more involved in the growth of my kids. 

I also appreciate everything schools had done for the kids. I think teachers are trying their best to bring kids back to school and so, at that moment, I thought it was time for me to make my own contribution to the community. So, I started to volunteer at a foundation at my kids’ then-school as the treasurer and then worked in the San Diego High School Union District. 

In the meantime, because Bishop’s is the dream school of my kids, the idea of working at such a nice school and maybe, my kids’ future school, is really exciting. I kept my eye on the employment opportunities posted on Bishop’s website, and when it was open, I submitted my application.


Q: What do your responsibilities at school entail? 

A: My full title is Senior Accountant and Payroll Specialist. At this moment, my focus is on the payroll. So I’m making sure all the information is correct, all the adjustments are made, etc. I think that payrolls are quite different in schools than in other businesses. It’s definitely more complicated in schools, with a lot of different situations. There is a lot of learning, which is also very interesting. I think [my experience in the San Diego Public School District] gave me basic ideas of the school business; it is from the SDUHSD that I learned the payroll expense is more than 85 to90% of the total cost of the school. I got familiar with budgeting, where I learned about the difference between government departments and private sector businesses. Basically, it’s just making sure people are being paid on time and correctly. 

Also, I just want to say that this place is just really friendly and is a very supportive working environment. Everybody in the Human Resources and the finance department is very helpful and supportive—like Ms. Lolita Palma, [Assistant Controller at Bishop’s], the person who is teaching me the details and steps of how to process reports, she is definitely the teacher for everything—very good teacher, very informative and responsible. 

Q: What do you like to do outside of school?

A: One of my passions is being a “tiger mom.” Just kidding! I help my kids with competitive sports. In San Diego, I’ve realized that there are many opportunities—for example, you can play golf all year round, soccer, etc. In Chicago, you can only do outside activities for half a year. But here, you can go to the beach whenever you want, so I think that this is a good place to raise kids. My first priority is the kids. 

For me, I really love exploring delicious foods. During lunch, I was conversing with my coworkers and we were saying that there’s a lot of delicious Mexican food here. And it’s not available in many other places in the United States, the way that it is quite authentic here. 


Q: After the first few weeks of school, what do you love most about Bishop’s?

A: I think Bishop’s is a very good employer—I can feel the inclusivity here, and everyone is trying their best. Sometimes, I’m feeling like the way that the school treats its employees is reflected in how the school is treating its students—say, if you’re treating employees well, there are happy employees, and they are teaching happy students. I also love the lunches here. And my husband is really jealous about me being able to have lunch here, haha. 


Though there are not many classrooms around Ms. Shen’s working office, feel free to stop by and welcome her to our community!