Wow – what a busy week we’ve had!
Monday was our first day of school. Most of our students are back, and we’re off to a good start. But, there’s still some scrambling as we work to figure out if students haven’t arrived yet are just late or will be going to school elsewhere.
Because of our waiting list, we prioritize alternates and make sure to let the children and their families know right away if a spot becomes available.
Prayers for Guidance
Our week began with an all-school prayer service; we asked God’s gudance over each of us as we begin anew. I felt a little sorry for the first graders since they haven’t learned to read yet. The prayer sheets and songbooks were an incomprehensible mystery to them! But, overall, the service was a fitting and wonderful way to start the year.
Between meetings, I’ve made sure to duck into classrooms to say hello and make sure I meet our newest students especially. I have 42 new names and faces to learn scattered throughout the school.
On our first day back, I stopped in to see the first graders at 3:00. All of the children are new and none of them knew my name. But, I didn’t feel too bad, especially when I overheard one little boy as the teacher – who’d been with them all day – “What was your name again?”! As the year progresses, we’ll all get to know each other and become quite a family.
Planning for the Future
Tuesday, our second day of school, found about 20 of us from around campus gathered together to have our first powwow meeting. Our annual event will be September 17-18, right here on our campus. There is so much to be done before then!
Mike, one of our facilities crew who has been through this many times, put it in this perspective. “It’s just like a wedding,” he said. “Everyone is real nervous and worried beforehand, but once it starts, everything falls into place.”
Our worries and nervousness do translate into taking care of a lot of details before our signature event, and our various departments collaborating on this special event help it run smoothly.
Another of my meetings was with the director of child services. When we finished business, we talked about my participation in the life of the school. I feel great energy being able to be back full-time and participate in more of what goes on here. It is so good to be back!
I’ve quickly realized this week that being back in the regular routine means lots more meetings than over the summer. I can grumble about meetings as much as anyone, but talking over issues and coming up with action plans really is essential for long-term success.
One of my meetings was with human resources just to get an update on the ups and downs we may be having with relation to our team. We’ve spoken at our managment meetings about possible training sessions for supervisors to help them better deal with problems, issues and opportunities as they arise. Having a strong team is crucial to our children’s success!
Focusing on the Children
My highlights throughout the week so far have all centered on the children. Each evening, I’ve enjoyed supper with different groups of students. The Stevens Home girls, in grades six through eight, are all returning students with the exception of one. I enjoyed the time we had over a meal getting caught up.
Our six, seven and eight year old boys in the Raphael Home also kept me entertained this week. There sure is lots of life and energy in a group of 12 first through third grade boys! Seven of the boys are new to St. Joseph’s and the home. I was so impressed by this group of children. When it came time to set the table, so many wanted to help right away. I pray we can keep nurturing that desire to be a part of a family and contribute.
The high school homes kicked off the year with a picnic in the spacious and lovely backyard of our Kateri Homes. All of the coaches from Chamberlain High School were also invited to attend so they could meet houseparents and get to know their student athletes in a relaxed setting away from school and the fields.
We have a few new students in the high school program, so I made a special point to meet each of them. Some of our returning students have been here all nine, 10, 11, even 12, years. I have so many memories of them. It was wonderful to sit around picnic tables and catch up with these students.
As I reflect, I think it’s easier to get to know students here at St. Joseph’s because we get to see them in so many different places and circumstances – in the classrooms and homes, on the playground, at church and even on the powwow grounds. I’ll have the opportunity to watch them grow and develop in so many ways during this new school year. Oh what excitement lies ahead!