Good afternoon from St. Joseph’s Indian School!
Three things in my life came together recently and gave me pause to thank God and say, “I’m part of this!”
A few weekends back, I attended a wedding of an old friend and ran into several others that I literally had not seen in over 30 years. After exchanging pleasantries about life and family, the topic of careers and work came up. In my case, the answer was “Yes, I still work at St. Joseph’s Indian School in South Dakota!” Soon after came questions about my job and a curiosity as to why I have stayed here for so long.
A few days later, back at St. Joseph’s, I attended a prayer service to start the fourth quarter of the school year. We also took the time to give out awards in celebration of student effort, caring and kindness in the previous quarter. A number of students in our grade school were honored. In each case, the student’s name was read and they came to the front of Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel to receive recognition. Many of the older students were reserved in front of their peers, but the younger students were not afraid to smile and let their positive emotions show. In fact, the last student to receive a recognition proceeded to hold up his certificate and point to the award, proudly acknowledging his success. It was cute and everyone chuckled.
Finally, St. Joseph’s recently had our Service Award Banquet, where staff were acknowledged for years of service. In my case, it has been 30 years!
So why am I mentioning the separate events?
Because each represents part of my personal journey that has been blessed by our wonderful mission. But in reality, that journey is less about me, and more about so many others.
The journey begins and ends with our students and their families. Their resilience, their culture and the many relationships I have been part of have impacted me in so many positive ways. I have learned you never give up on a child. In cases I have been directly involved with, there have been students one might have judged as not being able to succeed in school. Yet, with the support of many caring individuals, these students did great here. Given the chance, those children not only thrived, but achieved. These successes also impacted families who proudly support their child in that achievement.
Yes, it happens here daily.
I have also been touched by fellow staff who are passionate about our Mission. This includes those who work directly with the students, but also so many support staff who lay the foundation for our students to have a great experience. One only has to spend a short time in the school, homes or even on the playground, to see and understand the deep relationships and concern that forms around our students. This comes from so many caring adults, our terrific staff!
Lastly, I have been touched by the generosity of so many. It has been great to visit with our supporters and realize their investment in helping our students succeed. The concern, prayers and donations towards our work from countless concerned individuals is truly amazing in itself. The important mission that is part of every moment here on campus, is a true extension of those who support our efforts.
And I hope you hear and feel those words also. “I’m part of this!”
Mike, St. Joseph’s President