New staff, new school year at St. Joseph’s Indian School

New staff are continuing their orientation, with everything from how to calm an out of control child to working our email system. One day they had a scavenger hunt to get acquainted with campus and start to find useful and needed things. I  hope our new co-workers will feel welcome and an important part of the St. Joseph’s mission. Today  the SCJs hosted them for lunch at our house.

As folks finished eating, I asked each person to introduce themselves with a short “job description” of their role. Present among us were houseparents and teachers, custodians, food service worker, an electrician and a bookkeeper. I asked folks who came from a distance how they heard about St. Joseph’s Indian School. Several were from families who supported us with donations, and through the mail have known about the school since they were little. Others saw an ad in their area newspaper, or found job information online. The people who grew up in the area were asked to share a favorite memory of St. Joseph’s Indian School. Two people whose parents worked here fondly remembered the family picnics we have for staff. One woman recalled her own elementary school days when she played basketball and volleyball against our kids. I trust the good spirit of camaraderie and sharing, the hope and enthusiasm they bring will enrich us all.

Fifteen of our staff sat in on a teleconference with a group of researchers. Child Trends conducted interviews with our students and their families and presented their findings. Overall the report was affirming. Like any organization, we look for ways to improve, and there were areas to look at in that light as well.

One area we need to review is our vast array of rules. Students grudgingly admit that the rules are overall a good thing that point them along the right path. Still, few of us really like so many rules. Just because we’ve always done something that way, it’s still worth a fresh look. Celia, one of our residential coordinators pointed out that we have a rule limiting student outgoing long distance calls to the weekend. That was put in place years ago partially because that was when calls were cheapest. Our phone services now costs the same per minute all the time. As we look at improving communication with families, that’s an example of a rule that probably needs to be revamped. While students also complain about homework and house chore rules, those are the kinds of things that we’ll undoubtedly keep in place.

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

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