We Found a Home at St. Joseph's Indian School

The following is an authentic houseparent perspective submitted by Melissa and Aaron, who work as houseparents at St. Joseph's Indian School. If you're a houseparent interested in submitting your own story, learn more here.

Aaron and I have been houseparents for some 22 years. Originally from Michigan, we fell in love on a blind date and never looked back. We have worked in a few other facilities in Ohio, Texas, North Carolina, and, last but definitely not least, South Dakota.

When they say "The grass is not always greener on the other side," that is not the case with us. The grass is greener in South Dakota at St. Joseph’s Indian School. When we decided to come here, we found a home and the opportunity to build many lasting relationships with the staff and students.

We have been here 16 years as house parents. We have amazing insurance, a pension, decent pay, and best of all: summers off – paid. We raised our son here and are still raising our daughter. We work with Native American students on a beautiful campus surrounded by support staff who truly care and want the best for the students and care about our wellbeing.

Melissa & Aaron at St. Joseph's in Chamberlain, South Dakota

Over the years, we have worked with kids of all ages. We believe everyone has talents and personalities that best fit in somewhere. We love working with either the little kids from first to third grade or the oldest students: seniors in high school. We found our passion for working with seniors, and our current title is Senior Advisors. We helped develop our senior program at St. Joseph’s Indian School, and have seen the benefits over and over. We have the honor of preparing the students to get ready to graduate and begin their adult journeys. We teach budgeting, cooking on a tight budget, good work ethics, how to get or quit a job or call in sick, and how to have the confidence to hold down a part-time job while going to school full-time. We talk about how things in life will be hard. We teach students that they may fail many times, but it is what they do with those failures that matters. We work with them to discover what success looks like for them individually. We help them learn about credit, finding their first apartment, going to the pharmacy, and making a doctor’s appointment. We explain when to go to the emergency room. We tell them that even though they are leaving St. Joseph’s Indian School we will always be family, and we will still be a point of support for them.

While houseparenting has its hard days when you want to just sit down and cry, they are far outweighed by the benefits. With little kids, it is when they get super excited and run over to you with hugs and kisses and thank yous to bring you a dandelion as if it were a bouquet of prize roses. With the older students it is when they call to ask, “How did we cook that chicken?” or they see you in town and run over to tell you how they are doing. Later, it’s when they stop for a visit while they are passing through or they bring their children to meet you and introduce you as grandma and grandpa.

We love what we do every day, and on the hard days, we just look at each other and say, “Summers off – paid!!

About the Author

Houseparent.com is a career resource and job board for people interested in pursuing a career in residential childcare. Our mission is to connect dedicated married couples and individuals with employers hiring houseparents, cottage parents, teaching couples and other live-in caregiving roles. Our goal is to share tools, resources and career opportunities so that you can make an impact in the lives of children who need it most.

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