Hi, my name is Robin and I am the Special Education Department Chair here at St. Joseph’s Indian School. I have a Bachelor of Science in Education/Special Education and a Master’s in Reading and Literature. I just have to say that I really LOVE it here at St. Joseph’s Indian School! There is so much to do and to volunteer for.
My story is a continuation. I started here in 2002 and was only able to stay for two years. During one of those two years I was the Director of Special Education. I had the awesome opportunity to mentor a beautiful young lady, who is now at her home in Lower Brule.
I also had the opportunity to tutor in the high school homes three times per week. One of the students I tutored back then has gone on to graduate with honors, earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. I am so proud of Savannah!
My day job was Special Education for those students needing a little more help to be successful. Not only did I schedule meetings, plan lessons and file reports, I was able to teach some remarkable young people. I had small groups of students in grades 1-4. The stories of some of our students are heart wrenching to say the least. I am just glad the Lord put me here to work with them and pray for them. They have blessed me in immeasurable ways.
I then had to go to Georgia to help take care of my elderly in-laws. We were gone for seven years. My in-laws passed away and we stayed a few more years because of the economy.
But, my heart was always here at St. Joseph’s.
I decided not to renew my contract with the school system I was at and began calling St. Joseph’s to see if there were any positions available. Then came that wonderful September morning I got a call from Melissa in Human Resources asking me to come for an interview. OF COURSE I JUMPED ON THE OFFER!
So, the last week in September 2011, I was back at St. Joseph’s interviewing for Special Education Teacher. I was so excited, I was in tears!
Well, they accepted me back here and I was elated. They asked when I could start and without thinking I said any time! They told me to think about it and get things settled there in Georgia!
So I thought about it… My grandson was to be born October 13, 2011 and my granddaughter was turning 5 on October 13 as well. I stayed for Dakota’s party and left the following morning, leaving behind my son and my husband to “finish up” down there.
I also left my daughter and two of my five granddaughters there in Georgia. Before that, we were inseparable!
I drove all by myself (I’ve NEVER done that before) all across this country to get to Iowa to see my grandson and then on to South Dakota to come to St. Joseph’s. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my family – but I was going “home” to St. Joe’s!
You may be wondering why I am telling this story. I want you all to know what a wonderful, caring, and dedicated staff there is here at St. Joseph’s Indian School.
The students are awesome as well! They are people you will never forget. The school is always evolving. In the following picture are the Tiny Tot jingle dress dancers. One of the girls is my granddaughter, Dakota (blue dress with bows). Another is a houseparent’s daughter, the little one and the one with her back to the camera is from a neighboring reservation, and one is the daughter of a St. Joseph’s teacher.
St. Joe’s takes the term Tiyospaye – extended family full circle. Not only do we serve the students and their families, we remember to serve our own families as well.
As in many jobs, we dedicate much of our time and energy to our work and forget family is just as important. Here at St. Joseph’s, our “work family” is important, but our own families are as well. The students here love to meet our families and play with them at various activities.
The Special Education program is unique here at St. Joseph’s.
We follow all Federal guidelines when testing and supporting our students. We try to keep the students in the classroom and modify or accommodate as needed there.
Our program is more the resource type, as we have limited staff in this area. Our Family Service Counselors help us with behaviors and other concerns that the special education teachers deal with daily in public schools. Although I do have a lot of paper work, I also get to work with my team and with many students individually or in small groups. As I said, we are unique. We have a lot of support people here who help with groups, interventions and any other requests to help a student be successful.
Why do I love it here? Well, the beginning of the school year is amazing. When the students see that you are here again for another year, and you have not left them, they are so thrilled and excited to see you!
I am fortunate to be able to work in the homes as a substitute as well. This is where you see the awesomeness of our structure. The kids begin to feel as though you really want to help them succeed. They are responsible for doing their charges (chores). This includes doing their laundry, keeping their rooms clean, helping clean the home and helping with the meals and snacks.
They go on family trips and outings, do things in town, do things for others in the community and around school. The students take their “jobs’’ very seriously and are proud of what they know how to do. As a mentor I get to do activities with my mentee, whether it is on campus or in town. We learn about each other and get to teach each other things we didn’t know how to do. It is always great when she sees me and gives me a hug!
Did I tell y’all how much I love St. Joe’s????