Spreading Some Love at St. Joseph’s Indian School!


Valentine’s Day is a wonderful day, but unfortunately, it sometimes causes people to feel lonely and detached from the world. This year, we decided to help St. Joseph’s high school girls “spread some love!”

The girls spent a recent evening practicing the Lakota values of generosity and belonging.  Each girl was able to decorate as many cookies as she wanted.

The only catch?

Continue reading “Spreading Some Love at St. Joseph’s Indian School!”

Guest Blogger: Julie H.

Hello friends!  I hope today finds you all doing well!  My name is Julie H. and I am a Family Service Counselor at St. Joseph’s Indian School.  Things here are St. Joseph’s are going well!

This week we celebrated Red Ribbon Week and the kids were able to take part in lots of fun activities!  There were activities such as inflatables, ice cream sundaes, relays and theme days.  The kids always enjoy celebrating Red Ribbon Week!

The next celebration we are looking forward to is Halloween.  The kids are all gearing up for the fun and planning their costumes.  The students are able to trick-or-treat on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus and then we have a Halloween costume contest.  The students always enjoy this time of year!

Our 6-8 grade boys just finished up their football season and the 6-8 grade girls just finished up volleyball.  Now, the girls are gearing up for basketball and have started their practices.  Their first game is November 5 and they are very excited.  The 4th and 5th grade girls have also started basketball practice.  Basketball season is a favorite time of the year for both our boys and girls.  They enjoy the sport immensely, work hard, and show great sportsmanship.  It will be fun to watch them play!

As the weather grows cooler, we are also starting to get ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  What a wonderful time of year for our Lakota students!  It is always a joy to be able to celebrate these holidays with the students!  The students get a nice break for both holidays so they can return home and spend time with their families.

Another great thing happening today is FAST (Families and Schools Together) graduation.  This program brings families to campus to spend quality time with their children.  The program consists of a meal, family oriented activities, a time for parents to meet together and talk, and time for parents to just have fun with their children.  We have graduated over 100 families from this program.  Tonight we graduate seven more families!  This is a great time for the families to come and spend time with their kids and for the staff who work with the students to get a chance to know families a little better as well.

As always, I thank you all for your generous donations of prayer and financial assistance!  Without your help, we could not do the great work we do!  May God’s blessings be poured out on each and every one of you!

Julie H.

Guest Blogger: Julie H

Over the last few weeks, St. Joseph’s campus has been noisy with construction.  But campus has begun to ring with a new and happy noise… The noise of students returning to campus!!  I had the opportunity to visit many of the students I work with over the summer and most of them are ready to come back to campus and go back to school.  What a great thing to hear!  The students are excited to return and staff is just as excited to see them.

I have worked at St. Joseph’s Indian School for close to 11 years.  I have often been asked “What brought you to St. Joseph’s Indian School?” or “Why have you stayed at St. Joseph’s Indian School?”  The answer is really pretty simple.  I came to St. Joseph’s Indian School because I was excited about the opportunity to work with Native American youth.  I have worked with kids since I was in college and that is where I found my niche.  I love working with kids.  So the opportunity to work with Native American youth was something I just could not pass up.

Why have I stayed?  Well, that answer is pretty simple too.  What brings me back to St. Joseph’s Indian School, as well as most staff you will ask, year after year, is the students and the families I am blessed to have the opportunity to work with.  I have the opportunity, each year, to work with some of the greatest kids on the planet.  They are creative, fun, out-going, resilient and all around good kids.

I grew up in a wonderful environment and I feel God has called me to help be a part of the great environment we offer the students and families we work with here at St. Joseph’s Indian School.  Every day is not great, sometimes our students struggle, but being able to be a positive role model and helper for our students and families, humbles and honors me.

As we come to the close of summer, I would ask for prayers for our students and their families, as well as the staff of St. Joseph’s Indian School, as we return to school.  We will all keep you in our thoughts and prayers as well!  Have a wonderful rest of the summer and if you are ever in the area, stop by and say hello!


Family Service Counselor

Guest Blogger: Julie H

Hello!  Can you believe that summer is in full swing?  Things here at St. Joseph’s Indian School, although it is summer, continue to move along swiftly!

My name is Julie and I have been here at St. Joseph’s Indian School for over 10 years.  I currently work as a Family Service Counselor.  During the school year, I stay busy seeing students for individual counseling, group counseling, and enrichment activities.  But what does a counselor do in the summer when most of the kids are gone?  Well, that is a good question!

As a Family Service Counselor at St. Joseph’s Indian School, part of my duties in the summer include traveling to see the students and families with whom I work during the school year.  We visit with the students and families to make sure their summer is going well and to see if there is anything we can help with while the students are at home.  Most of the time, this is just a check in and a great time to visit with students and families.

So far this summer, I have been to Eagle Butte to visit with one of my students.  This week will take me to on two or three more trips and the rest of the summer is filling up with travel as well!  Though many of our students are from the nearby Indian reservations of Fort Thompson and Lower Brule, we also travel as far away as Pine Ridge and Nebraska to visit Native American students.

Another thing the Family Services Counselors do during the summer is work on student admissions. Of course, we need to fill the first grade class with new students and other grades may have openings as well.  Part of the admissions process includes going to the prospective student’s home to meet them and their family.  A short interview is conducted to gain some background information on the student, and this is a great time to start building a strong relationship with the student and their family.

Interspersed with all of the travel, the Family Service Counselors work on getting consent forms signed for the next school year, finish up paperwork and start preparing for the kids to return.  Summer is also a good time to attend workshops to keep us up to date on the current trends and best practices in counseling.

The best part of the summer is getting to go out and see our students and their families, as well as meeting new families.  Although most of the kids were ready for summer to get here, they sure seem happy to see us when we visit! 🙂  And many times the first question they ask is,

“When do I get to come back to St. Joe’s for school?”

I hope you all have a blessed and safe summer! – Julie H

Guest Blogger: Scott

Hello blog world!  My name is Scott and I am a family service counselor.  I work with 6th-12th grade boys and will begin my 19th year at St. Joseph’s Indian School (SJIS) this fall.  During the school year, I help provide individual and group counseling services to the boys and also act as a go-between for the school and the children’s families.

Right now, though, it’s summer and I’m adjusting to a little more life on the road.  I’ll be traveling this month to visit families and students I work with here at SJIS.  It’s a nice way to connect with all of them.  I enjoy seeing the beautiful landscapes of South Dakota and getting to see the home turf of the kids.  They always enjoy showing off their towns and telling stories connected to their home environment.  It’s a great way to continue to build the relationships we work on during the year.  Plus, it’s laid back because they aren’t stressed out by the rigors of homework and other scheduled activities, like we have during the school year.

I also travel to conduct interviews with potential students when we have vacancies in our homes.  I always enjoy meeting new children and new families and I look forward to establishing new connections with them when the school year begins.

In the last few years, I have had quite a few more kids remain on campus in June as summer programming increases for the age group that I work with – especially in the high school age group.  I have many older boys who are still here for awhile, working summer jobs, attending the high school transition program and officially learning how to drive.

I enjoy the pace of the SJIS summer routine and also look forward to time off in the summer to re-charge and prepare for the next school year.

Designed to help bring families closer together

American Indian kids playing games around the table.
Family time is so important for today's youth.

Hello friends of St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Last weekend saw the start of our Families and Schools Together (FAST) program.  We have been running FAST for several years and have graduated over 100 families.  It is a great, fun program!

FAST is held two times per year – once in the fall and once in the spring.  This round of FAST runs on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings, for a total of eight sessions (four weekends).  The program is designed to help bring families closer together, while giving families a chance to meet staff.

During each session, families participate in several activities, including:

  • Time for parents to meet as a group
  • Time for an identified child to receive 15 minutes of uninterrupted time with a parent
  • Games, like Feelings Charades
  • A meal

A lot of fun is had by all!  There is singing, laughter, play and time for families to spend together.  Our first weekend went wonderfully, and we look forward to our next weekend of FAST!

The students are also gearing up for Spring Break, which starts at the end of next week.  Other than a few days at Easter, Spring Break is our last big break and signifies that school is moving toward the end of the year.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we will get all of our Native American students and families home safely for the break!

Warm wishes to all of you,


Family Service Counselor

Getting back into the routine of St. Joseph’s

Hello and happy new year to all!

My name is Julie and I am a Family Service Counselor here at St. Joseph’s Indian School.  I have worked at St. Joseph’s Indian School for over 10 years and I love it as much today, as I did my first day!  The students have returned from break full of stories about what they did over Christmas.  They are happy to be back and working on settling back into the routine of St. Joseph’s.

What a great group of students I get to work with!

I work with girls grades 6-12 and provide services such as individual counseling, group counseling, guidance and enrichment activities.  Some of the groups that I help facilitate include Daughters of Tradition, Stress Management and Grief Group.  I also work with students on issues such as transitioning into high school and plans for post-high school.  This year, I started a scrapbooking project with several of my students.  What a great way to help them remember their years here at St. Joseph’s.  While we are just getting started on this, the girls like the idea of having a way to remember friends and staff from St. Joseph’s.  I also do memory scrapbooking with our Native American students who have lost loved ones.  I also teach a guidance class.  This year in guidance, we are working on friendships, anger management, stress management, racism, substance abuse prevention and goals for the future.  We have class one time per week and I love working with the 6th grade class.

Thank you to all who support our work here at St. Joseph’s through praying and giving.  We could not provide the wonderful environment we do without all of you!  We hope to have you come and visit us sometime!