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Airports and Houseparenting

By Clare Ogle, an MHS houseparent

I think airports are some of the happiest and saddest places on the planet. The same is true of train stations and hospitals. Think about it: at an airport, you have people going on honeymoons, flying home to family, and going on adventures. But at the same time, you also have people leaving for deployment, heading home after a funeral, or moving far away after a difficult life event. These people might be on the same plane. Perhaps they’re even sitting next to each other.

Knowing all of those possibilities and more, it’s the flight crew’s job to meet each passenger’s needs and get them safely to their destination.

This is so similar to houseparenting. On any given day, we might have a student dealing with a bad test score or a conflict with their roommate. We also might have a student who just made the varsity basketball team, aced an exam, or is super excited to go home on a long weekend. These students live in the same house, maybe even the same room.

It’s our job as houseparents to help each student through their unique situation and get them safely to their destination. All at the same time.

Clare and Will, houseparents at MHS

Trying to celebrate with one student while mourning with another can be a challenge, but it’s super important. Recognizing where each student is and helping them with their individual challenges and triumphs is vital to making the relationship aspect of houseparenting work. It’s not easy, just as I assume flying a plane isn’t a piece of cake, but it’s necessary.

Imagine you boarded a plane and the flight attendant treated everyone exactly the same—regardless of whether they were young, old, or speaking the same language. I’m sure it wouldn’t be a very enjoyable experience. It also wouldn’t be acceptable if the pilot decided to fly to wherever she felt like without trying to help the passengers on their specific journeys.

While treating each student as an individual and yet somehow as a collective whole has its challenges, it really does make the experience better and more rewarding for everyone involved.

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. View full Equal Opportunity Policy.