Milton Hershey School Houseparents Grow in their Roles through Professional Development
Recently, Milton Hershey School houseparents and Transitional Living Assistants (TLAs) took part in the first of four self-directed professional development days. All houseparents had the opportunity to explore topics of their choice that align with their careers and will have more opportunities throughout the school year to take part in other programming through the new Home Life-focused professional development program.
The courses were taught by seasoned MHS Home Life staff and other staff members across campus. Additionally, the school partnered with professors from Messiah University and experts on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and mental wellness for students.
“Lifelong learning is important for any adult in any profession,” shared Katherine Adame, MHS Supervisor of Home Life Development & Social and Emotional Learning. “We are offering a variety of topics to meet the needs of staff with very diverse backgrounds who are working with youth. One of our goals is to offer workshops that meet the needs of our newest houseparents and TL staff, while also satisfying the interests of our very experienced staff.”
Topics included learning to cook for 12 students, helping young people through homesickness, practicing self-care, working effectively with your spouse, and more. These topics were chosen to support houseparents and TLAs in their current roles and beyond.
Adame added: “Adult motivation for learning is often enhanced when people are given freedom to choose the content they want to learn, when they engage in learning, and who they are learning with or from. Encouraging people to engage in learning is one way we foster a growth mindset amongst Home Life employees.”
Each of the 27 courses fell into four categories: relationship to students, relationship to others, relationship to self, and electives. Houseparents and TLAs are required to complete one course from each category by the end of the year to expand their knowledge and skills.
Outside of learning new ways to foster excellence in their roles as Home Life staff, employees were also encouraged to grow relationships with other staff in their courses. MHS works diligently to develop new ways for staff to engage with one another, while growing personally and professionally.