At Big Sky’s GSA end of the year meeting
Serving in Missoula at Big Sky High School has been both a tremendous transition and a rewarding adventure. While it is bizarre to be back in the middle of those high school days of anxious sweat, many heartbreaks, and the buzzing need for independence, I am so grateful to be able to stand beside these kids as they find their way.
I have been working primarily with the support staff team here at Big Sky. The support staff consists of counselors for each grade-level, a college graduation coach, dean of students, vice principals, a family resource center manager, the project success leader, the Native American specialist, and, thrown into the middle of it all, me!
From the first day I was incredibly moved by the resiliency of this team. They all gather together to work to best support students who are struggling, and they do so with so much emotional labor and empathy that it truly shows you what community accountability can look like. While their jobs are not easy, they are constantly engaged in the muck and grit of it all and are looking to always better themselves for their students.
At one point during an Americorps training we shared aloud Marge Piercy’s poem To Be of Use and related it to our service experience. Pierce begins the poem by declaring her admiration for those who “jump into work head first/ without dallying in the shallows.” The image of a person diving into the deep of a moment, without hesitation or pause, is one that Pierce draws us further and further into throughout the body of the poem. She likens those who dive “into work head first” to an ox sturdily shouldering a heavy load and to water buffalo “who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward, “who do what has to be done, again and again.”
I find myself, here in Montana this Fall, straining once again in the mud and the muck. And that strain is what is simultaneously exciting, exhausting, and terrifying. I can’t say I imagine myself as always being the person Piercy admires in her poem, the one who always dives head first. It is something I have had to do, again and again, with more assurance of how the fall will break each time, but it is not something I do without hesitation, sometimes the shallows feel safe or sometimes necessary when you are exhausted from swimming. I feel so fortunate to be working alongside of a team of people who do this daily, and who are committed to caring and uplifting others daily. Although I began the year feeling burnt out on love, I have found over time an endless source of it in working with kids who, despite whatever obstacles and struggles, always find a way to come to my room and laugh about something, to take joy in being together and in learning from one another.
In the past few months there’s been too much happening for me to even know where to begin explaining it all. In place of words, here are some pictures (with captions) to describe it all:
My GUTS (Girls Understanding Their Strength) group writing words of encouragement to one another.
GUTS group taking a goofy pic
Picture from Post-Secondary Month tabling activities at Big Sky!