All-In staff community, don’t despair! In the words of my celebrity fantasy husband David Bowie (may he rest in peace), “You’re not alone!” This is part of the good work you all do--it’s why we hire thoughtful, creative, flexible and energetic people who understand that providing unconditional care on a systems level can feel like a slow change process a lot of the time. I look around at our teams in schools and I am blown away by the high-quality, creative work being implemented, by the thoughtful problem solving our teams engage in, and the effort each person makes to identify and practice a disconfirming stance with our kiddos. It’s something to celebrate.
This month I’d like to share a story that demonstrates creativity and flexibility, from one of our Clinical Intervention Specialists at Starr King in San Francisco. Here, Dana Wolfenbarger, like other CISs, must navigate the very grey area of delivering school consequences while supporting her client emotionally. The description that follows captures how Dana felt inspired by her client, and how she was able to hold the school priority of a consequence in mind, while still building and holding connection and humanity at the heart of her intervention. Can you imagine how this child felt -- working to heal a relationship and share a part of himself while acknowledging his own accountability to school rules and expectations?
“Recently, in the middle of the day, I got a call on the walkie talkie from a school administrator saying that one of my clients (3rd grade) was escalated and needed support. When I arrived, the administrator asked me to take over and said that my client had to complete a written statement/apology explaining his poor behavior to his mother before he could return to class. My client refused. Once we were alone, I engaged my client in an exploratory discussion about what occurred and validated his feelings. I acknowledged how much he cares about his mother and how difficult it can be to communicate his mistakes for fear of letting her down. I reminded my client about how important music has been in his life and wondered aloud if music could help him find the words he wanted to say. He decided to write his mother a song taking inspiration from Tupac Shakur and Justin Bieber. He worked diligently on the song, taking responsibility for his behavior and repeating the hook “Is it too late to say I’m sorry?” He was proud of his work and presented the song to the school administrator. In this way, we were able to build upon his strengths and find an outlet that worked for him. The song was pretty incredible too.”
I encourage you to celebrate the ways your flexibility and creativity are transforming interventions with the students. I encourage you to celebrate one another as well. Please keep sharing these stories with me and others on your team. We love hearing the varied ways you are reaching the students and communities. You are the heart of the work.
Emily Marsh, Director of Clinical Interventions