FAST weekend at St. Joseph’s Indian School

I’m nursing a bad fall cold, so yesterday was a day to stay home and rest, read and watch some TV. I took a two hour afternoon nap, which I must have needed. I did go to the office to pick up the mail and found a wonderful homemade thank you card signed by all our student powwow dancers. They are grateful for all our staff did to make the experience of the  powwow a special time for students and their families.

Today we had ten families on campus for another FAST (Families and Schools Together) weekend. I saw several of our staff and high school students acting as baby sitters out on the playground with all the children. During that time the parent/guardians were having a group session with one of our counselors. The setting gives them a support group as they talk about issues they face in raising their children/grandchildren, and having them be away from home. One thing that is needed is some strong male role models in our students’ lives.

Our staff does most of the work. I just like to stop by and connect with the families and let them know they are welcome here, and we think about them and pray for them and want to partner with them to make life better for the next generation.

Today’s guest blogger: Sherry

Today's guest blogger: Sherry
Today's guest blogger: Sherry

Hello, my name is Sherry. I am one of the 1st-5th grade girls Family Service Counselor here at St. Joseph’s Indian School. I am also St. Joseph’s Indian School’s FAST (Families and Schools Together) Trainer.  I came to St. Joseph’s in 1999 where I began as a Child Care worker with the 6th-8th grade community. While I was a Child Care Worker, St. Joseph’s Indian School graciously allowed me to pursue my Master’s Degree which led to the current position I hold at this time.

During the summer time, I am busy with traveling to visit my families on my caseload. I enjoy this part of the summer because it allows me to visit with the Native American families and students in their own environment. The students and families are usually happy to see me and share with me what has been going on since summer break began in May. One of the big questions when I go out is,

When does school start again?

One of the other important things along with travel that I do in the summer is Admissions. I go out and meet with the new families and students. We fill out a social history to get to know the family and then the child will also answer some fun questions about themselves, so I can get to know them a bit on a personal level. Once the information is collected in the files I have for the summer, I then share the information with the Admissions Board and then it is decided whether or not St. Joseph’s Indian School would be a good fit for the family and most importantly for the child.

This summer, I was also fortunate to be able to be recertified as the FAST Trainer for St. Joseph’s Indian School. I traveled to Madison, Wisconsin where I spent two days going through the rectification process.  FAST (FST Inc.) is an eight week researched based, family program that helps parents become the primary prevention agent in their child’s life. The goals of the FAST Program are to enhance family functioning by strengthening the parent-child relationship and by empowering the parents. The second goal is to prevent school failure, by improving the child’s performance and behavior in the school, empowering the parents to take a role in their child’s educational process and increasing the family’s affiliation with the school. The third goal is to prevent substance abuse in children and families by increasing knowledge and awareness of this problem and its impact in child development and linking families to assessments and treatment services and the final goal is to reduce stress parents and children experience in daily situations by developing informal support systems and linking with community resources and services.

These goals are met through the different activities the parent(s) and child(ren) complete together during a FAST night on campus. A typical night of FAST generally last for about two and half hours, in which the families play games and share a meal together. Some of the activities other than the meal are: making a family flag, scribbles (drawing activity), feeling charades, kids time, buddy time, parent group, closing circle and rain. On the 7th session we have a Substance Abuse Prevention presentation by our Prevention Specialist or one of the other counselors. The families and staff alike enjoy doing the activities.

I hope that you all are having a wonderful summer!

Handshakes and huge grins

We had a fun giveaway of 20 Minnesota Timberwolves basketballs after school today, courtesy of some friends from a church in Mankato, Minnesota. Some prizes were given our through a door prize drawing, while others were earned through shooting competitions, or copy-cat basketball skill drills. Our generous guests presented the balls to the winners, and our kids showed their appreciation with handshakes and huge grins. I enjoyed the time I spent with our visitors giving a tour of the school, homes and campus and answering their questions about St. Joseph’s Indian School’s  programs.

Our FAST (Families and Schools Together) families gathered again on campus this weekend. I stopped by to greet the families. A few of our high school girls volunteered to babysit the little ones that families brought with them. I sat with those students at supper to hear plans about prom, upcoming summer jobs and adventures.