l've found myself living in some pretty random places in my life (Stockton, CA, Malden, MA, Hualien, Taiwan). I suppose that everywhere is random to someone, but I think Keokuk, Iowa is pretty random to about everyone. So, that said, I'll give you all a little synopsis of what my life has been like here in Keokuk, Iowa, since I figure those of you reading this are somewhat interested in my life...which does go beyond just pictures of my children.
I started my job at Midwest Academy in early May and am acting as one of two Shift Leaders for the boys' wing. The school is co-ed, but the boys and the girls stay very segregated on their own wings with very little interaction. Right now there are about 100 boys, and maybe 50 girls. Typically they like to have that number much higher...about 150 boys, but the current economy affects everything including many parents ability to drop several thousand dollars a month on high school. The school is on the outskirts of town and sits on about 20 or 30 acres of green grass, rolling hills, and corn fields. I was originally living in a 4 bedroom house on campus, but moved to a 2 bedroom apartment in a four-plex with my cousin, Ben (the owner of the school) and his wife and two kids, his parents in-law, and the boys wing supervisor with his wife and son.
The students here are for the most part decent kids, but ones that had begun making some bad decisions that had already, or were turning into, self-destructive habits and were creating consequences that were damaging to the well-being of their families (irony that I work here?). Many come in kicking and screaming, some leave kicking and screaming; but for many of them (the ones that make these kind of jobs "worth it"), a year or two here turns them into accountable, mature, self-aware young men and women that have developed some healthy habits and behavior patterns that will set them up for a future of success, or at minimum...productivity without hurting themselves or those around them too much.
My work consists of keeping all the "families" of boys on schedule, and making sure they are staying on task and following the schedule and school's rules. I supervise the dorm parents who stay with the families throughout the day, as well as the "family reps" who are the liason between the students, the school, and their parents. I tend to handle all the crises that occur each day, deal with some of the more problematic kids that require extra attention/discipline, as well as the logistics of paperwork, transportation, activities, coordination with the academic leaders, nurses and doctors, etc.
I've enjoyed the work a lot and getting back into the mindset that my success each day isn't measured by how much you did, or how much you earned, or what you produced. But rather a successful day may have been providing some motivation to someone to not write that letter home saying they don't ever want to see their parents again, or controlling their temper enough to not hit another kid in the face, or being honest about a situation that happened in a classroom, or finally getting a kid to understand that principle that making a minor correction now could have major implications for what their future destination will be.