Swatting Balls

I always tell people that this time of year is a hectic period at school—working on admissions, planning for the summer and fall, preparing end-of-year reports, budgeting for the next year—the list is endless. I am reminded by these same people that I describe many periods of our year as hectic, and I must admit that this is probably true. In part, this is because I seem to thrive in a “batting cage” kind of environment, swatting balls as they come in one after another. I have come to recognize, however, that reactive management isn’t enough, and this year has been a learning one for me as I try to think farther ahead, making decisions that will benefit the organization in the long run as well as in the short run. Most of this work is probably invisible to the students and young adults we work with, and one disadvantage to my increased focus on long-term stability has been a slight reduction in face time with the guys.

To be fair, when I reflect on the highlights of my week, they almost always include the time I do spend working with the guys:

· Lit Class with Ty, Jake, and Sam, where we continue to use folktales and other stories to strengthen reading comprehension and communication skills. We have also added a significant conversation period to this class which has been very rewarding. Listening to these emerging young men actually converse meaningfully with each other is heart-warming and thrilling.

· Civics with the Young Adults, where we have explored systems of rule-making, law enforcement, and justice, gradually creating an internal system of community rules and expectations for the young adults. Back in the day, I never would have wanted to lead a class of these particular individuals on my own; the risks of conflict were simply too great. Now, the discussion is vibrant and complex—and safe. What amazing progress this represents!

I love many other parts of my job as well—and am excited at the growth of the organization overall—but it is that time with the people we support that gets me up every morning.

By the way, I remember one week at least that was not hectic for us. It was the week of January 10—Snowpocalypse.

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