Training at St. Joseph’s Indian School

Our new staff at St. Joseph’s Indian School began orientation today. They are learning everything from child services philosophy and Lakota (Sioux) culture, to which keys they need and how to file paperwork; I stopped in to say hello and wish them well. It will take most of the week to get the basic orientation, but there’s so much on the job training. It’s important to have good supervisors who can walk alongside new staff and help them make the adjustment, and bring their own gifts and strengths to the table.

I had some training as well. We’ve been doing more videoconferencing lately, and I needed help to learn how to Skype and talk with a staff member in Nebraska. We’re also going paperless in our Personnel Action Forms, so requests for vacation and sick days will all be handled over the computer. I needed a few pointers on how to do that.

As I walked around campus, several projects are getting wrapped up. Fresh coats of paint have improved the looks of a few buildings, and all the parking spaces on campus are clearly marked with a new coat of bright yellow paint.  New flooring between the chapel and school should better weather the mud tracked in by hundreds of feet each day. The Stevens and Matthias home renovations are well under way, and I stopped to check on progress there.

Shay, one of our High School graduates worked this summer in Planned Giving. I hope the business office experience gives her more insight into the classes she will take when she begins college in a few weeks. Today was her last day, which meant treats in the break room to see her off and wish her all the best.

Summers also bring in kind donations as members of our tiyospayeextended family pass through the area. I met one couple from Florida who had clothing and toiletries to drop off before their visit to the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center. Another group from a school in Nebraska has a huge load of children’s books. What we don’t use here we can share with the Indian Reservation communities and make sure they get into the hands of children who are hungry to read and learn.


Our Tiyospaye – extended family

Speaking of blood, since my clotting factor was too high last week, I had more blood work today. My level stabilized and is where the doctors want it.

Fr. Steve of St. Joseph's Indian School
Monday, August 02, 2010

New Staff
This morning I welcomed our seven new houseparents and one new teacher as they began their week of orientation. Three are South Dakota residents; one couple is from Michigan. The others represent Oklahoma, Louisiana and Ohio.

We get the most geographic diversity within the houseparent job. Most of our staff have local roots. The newcomers bring lots of enthusiasm, plenty of questions, and a little bit of anxiety as they tackle this new endeavor.

Mike, our Executive Director of Child Services, spoke about his first years as a houseparent. There are days that are fun and memorable; other days when the students frustrate and upset you terribly. He encouraged everyone to work through both the good and the bad. It’s the whole mix of admiring kids at their finest, and working with them at their lowest, that really makes the job get into your blood.

Doctor visit
Speaking of blood, since my clotting factor was too high last week, I had more blood work today. My level stabilized and is where the doctors want it.

Our Tiyospaye – extended family
Darby – who works on our computers – was back at work today after becoming a brand new Dad for the first time last week. His wife and son are both doing well. He just needs to have a “man-to-man” talk with his son about keeping it a little quieter in the middle of the night.

Encounters like this remind me that besides the students we serve and friends like you, our staff have family and loved ones that become part of our Tiyospayeextended family.