This week, many kids in the Flathead Valley went back to school. The rest will return next week, ready for a new year of learning and fun. For me, it’s my third year of not going back to school, which is interesting. Every year from the time I began Kindergarten at age five until three years ago, I went back to school in some capacity. These days, I am neither a student nor an educator, but late summer and early fall still get me thinking about goal setting and renewal.
Obviously, I’m someone who believes in education (otherwise I wouldn’t have so much of it!). But education looks different at different points in our lives. When we’re kids, going to school is about learning the basics of we need to become successful adults. As we grow up, we pursue additional education to gain skills and knowledge for our jobs and, if we’re lucky, to learn more about things we love.
If we’re even luckier, what we learn about the things we love applies directly to our jobs. That’s how it is for many of the employees here at Immanuel who are joining their children in going back to school this fall. In my last post, I shared with you some information about the Employee Education Fund, which allows some of our staff members to go back to school to gain additional credentials that will improve their lives. Many of them have set goals of obtaining degrees and then higher-paying jobs. Others simply want to learn things that will help them do their current jobs better. I am impressed by both; it takes a lot of effort and dedication to continue one’s education while also working. People who do this usually do it because they want to advance in their jobs, but they wouldn’t make the effort if they didn’t love those jobs and believe in the importance of doing them well.
As I think about what I want to accomplish over the coming nine months, I think a lot about how I, as a Foundation staff member, can help support my fellow staff members who are going back to school. One thing I can do is work on raising money for the Education Fund. I’m also working on raising funds to restart our on-site CNA class, which has helped numerous Flathead Valley residents gain a credential that helps them earn more money, at no charge to them.
Learning doesn’t stop just because we leave school. I’ve learned a lot in my years at Immanuel, and most of it didn’t involve a classroom or someone called an “instructor.” Sure, I’ve taken a few training courses to help me excel in elements of my job I wanted to get better at, but most of what I’ve learned has come from residents and fellow staff members. They’ve taught me about patience, about overcoming obstacles, and about how powerful small, kind words can be. I am proud to help those fellow staff members continue learning in whatever form works best for them, and I hope you’ll join me in these efforts.