Hi again! My name is Claire, and I am a houseparent in the high school program. I’m excited to be back, starting my fifth year here at St. Joseph’s Indian School. This week is all-staff orientation. Those of us that have been gone part of the summer rejoin our hard-working year-round colleagues for a week of training, refreshers and refocusing. This can be pretty exciting, especially when we all arrive in chapel on Monday morning and someone holds up a “free hugs” sign. Woo hoo!
We usually start off with smudging—the Lakota tradition of burning sage—which is a symbolic cleansing of our minds, hearts and bodies with the smoke. This sets a prayerful space and atmosphere for our work together in the upcoming year.
Our orientation theme this year was “Nourishing Mind, Body, Heart and Spirit.”
How cool is that?
After all, we are not just about teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Our goal is to prepare kids for life outside of St. Joseph’s, so they can be strengthened by relationships, faith, a sense of culture and history, and skills for living. In order to do that, we have to bring our whole selves into the equation—which is why we start the year with prayer, sage, free hugs and even some darn good bread which the Pastoral Care staff handed out.
A lot of this week is about remembering our mission, and focusing on what we hope to accomplish in the upcoming year. For us houseparents, one challenge is to bring the oyate values outlined in our Circle of Courage into our daily routines. Those values are: Belonging, Independence, Mastery and Generosity.
We all agree that we do a great job at building a sense of belonging. We are very good at building relationships with our kids, their families and with each other. We are turning our attention to other areas where we are not so strong. Sometimes, in our efforts to build relationships, we end up doing too much for our kids, to the detriment of their sense of mastery, independence and generosity. We had some serious and thoughtful discussions on how and where we can work on these areas.
Not all of orientation is fun, I will admit. Our newly hired staff have already completed a full week of training, and their heads are about to explode with facts, figures, rules and guidelines.
Veteran staff members groan a bit when we get to the part that we have heard every year. Over and over and over. For those of you who are uninitiated in the joys of orientation, let me sum up Day Two as briefly as possible:
Rule #1: Treat your co-workers with respect. Play Nice.
Rule #2: If you make a mess, please clean it up.
Rule #3: If the mess involves blood or other body fluids, use gloves.
Rule #4: If the mess is on fire, call 911.
Rule #5: If you can’t seem to follow Rule #1, make SURE you follow Rules #2-5.
I think I can manage that!
Thank you for continuing to hold the kids and staff at St. Joseph’s in your prayers as we kick off the 2012-2013 school year. So far, we’re off to a good start.