Chelsey: Family Service Counselor at St. Joseph’s Indian School

Hi, I’m Chelsey and I am a Family Service Counselor here at St. Joseph’s. This is my second year

Chelsey and her mentor match, Hope.
Chelsey’s mentor match, Hope, is in St. Joseph’s high school program.

working at this wonderful place. The end of the school year is a busy time for everyone on campus even though most of the kids head home for the summer break. It is filled with many smiles, hugs, and “see-you-laters.” For myself and the other Family Service Counselors, it means we have to make paperwork deadlines! Ha!

During the summer, the counselors enjoy traveling all over South Dakota to visit the Lakota students and families we work with. We go to their hometowns and usually find the kids out on their bikes, playing basketball or running around with their siblings and other kids in the neighborhood.

Sometimes, we see our students from the Crow Creek and Lower Brule communities at St. Joseph’s day camp. We love to check in and see how their summer is going. Often times on visits, we like to bring snacks to share or take the kids out for lunch or ice cream. Visiting our students in the summer is a great opportunity to see where they come from and their life at home. The families are so hospitable and love to sit down and visit while sipping on a cup of coffee.

Another responsibility for the Family Service Counselors during the summer is helping with admissions. We interview potential students as well as their families, and have several meetings throughout the summer to accept new students.

We love telling others about St. Joseph’s Indian School and answering any questions the students or families might have.

It has been a great year at St. Joseph’s Indian School! We are sad to see them leave and miss them being on campus, but we are already planning for their return in August. Thank you for making our work possible!

Chelsey, Family Service Counselor

Serving & Teaching, Receiving & Learning from the Lakota students

We serve and teach, we receive and learn.

This is a saying we have here at St.

Chelsey and her mentor match, Hope.
Chelsey’s mentor match, Hope, is in St. Joseph’s high school program.

Joseph’s and the truth of it is becoming more evident as I spend each day working with the Lakota (Sioux) students at St. Joseph’s Indian School. In my short year and half, I’ve had the privilege of working with the students in first grade all the way through seniors in high school. Staff members receive and learn various things from each age group.

I’ve learned from the younger students to live life spontaneously and carefree. Their little spirits, full of life and laughter, never cease to leave a smile on my face. They are full of curiosity and always asking questions. After spending an evening in one of our younger homes (students in grades 1-3), I can’t help but walk out feeling energized a­­­­­­nd reminded to live simply.

Recently we celebrated Catholic Schools Week and the seventh and eighth graders did a video on what faith, knowledge, and service mean to them. I was reminded of the role technology is playing in the world today, when one of the kids said service is something you have on your phone when you can call or talk to other people. The teacher needed to clarify a bit more on what type of service they were talking about. J

I was so inspired and encouraged by what these young students shared about their core beliefs in faith and what it means to them!

Occasionally I’ve had the opportunity to hang out with the high school students too. I am part of the mentor program and my mentor match is in high school. We enjoy getting together to do fun activities. She is always up for anything and the high school students are very active! Several of the high school students have siblings or cousins who also attend St. Joseph’s – they are great role models to the younger students. They set high goals for themselves and are continually working toward becoming the adults they desire to be.

Each student is unique and special, bringing different qualities, characteristics, and personalities to St. Joseph’s. Every day is an opportunity for staff and students to serve and teach, and receive and learn from each other.

Thanks for making this work possible!

Chelsey, Family Service Counselor

St. Joseph’s Indian School in one word? Relationships.

My name is Chelsey and this is my first “official” year at St. Joseph’s Indian School. While finishing up my Master’s Degree in Counseling and Human Resource Development

St. Joseph’s Family Service Counselors spend time with the Lakota children and their families.
Chelsey loves the time she spends getting to know the Lakota children.

last year, I was an intern here. I grew up right here in Chamberlain, South Dakota, however, and have been familiar with the school my entire life.

I have always enjoyed participating in activities on campus and a trip to the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center is still one of my favorite ways to spend a day. I’ve always had an interest in the Native American culture, and now I have the privilege of working with the Lakota (Sioux) students and their families on a daily basis.

When I first considered going into the counseling field, I asked to shadow a few of the counselors at St. Joseph’s. As I was asking many questions about the field and how things are done at St. Joseph’s, I remember one counselor telling me he could sum it up in one word…relationships.

After being at St. Joseph’s for a little over a year, I could not agree more. There are so many relationships that impact my job and daily responsibilities.

The most important relationship in my life is that with God. I feel so blessed to work at a place where I can openly share my faith while participating in mass, prayer services, and home prayers.

Relationships with the students are next, especially in my position as a Family Service Counselor. My favorite times during the week are spent in sessions with the students and after school in their homes.

Closely following the relationships with the students, is the relationships I have with their parents/guardians. One of my main responsibilities as a Family Service Counselor is to be the main contact person with the families. This allows me work through the struggles of each student with their parent or guardian, and also join in celebrating their successes.

Working at St. Joseph’s also gives me relationships with my co-workers and other staff who are all working toward the same mission: to educate the Native American youth for life – mind, body, heart and spirit.

St. Joseph’s Indian School is truly a family of its own and I am so honored to work for this organization.

Each day, I see examples of the staff coming together with different ideas, activities and projects to further the mission of St. Joseph’s Indian School and serve those around us.

With the years to come, I look forward to strengthening my relationship with God, building long-lasting relationships with the students and their families, and continue to fulfill the mission of St. Joseph’s Indian School with the wonderful staff that surround me.

Chelsey, Family Service Counselor