What's On Your Mind?


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Prevention Specialist

I was really surprised to get any comments on my learning blog, but especially surprised to find that someone was interested in all the jobs I’ve had! I’ve thought about that all week, trying to decide what to write about my jobs. I think my absolute favorite job was as a prevention specialist, I lasted at that one for 3 years before moving on (can you say A.D.D.?). That job had so many components. The goal was to try to keep youth from using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. The focus was on middle school age. Think about that . . . what do you do to keep a child’s attention at that age AND get them to buy into your message? My first classroom experience I was explaining why I was there and what we would be doing and one of the students starts telling me about being at a barbeque and seeing one family member shoot another family member in the chest with a shotgun. Wow, what do you say to that? I had only had a few counseling classes at that point and had not even started my masters yet, 20 kids were listening and this child said “my mom wouldn’t let us go to her [the one who used the shotgun] wedding after that, do you think that was right?” After a few minutes I explained that her mom knew what was right for them and went into listening to your parents. That happened about 5 years ago and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. The job got easier after that (how could it not?) The kids loved for me to come because I always had games and prizes. I was not above bribery!!

Another part of prevention was access to alcohol and tobacco in the community. I held classes to help businesses learn the importance of checking IDs and not selling to minors. I would spend 2-3 hours teaching cashiers how to check IDs, what tricks kids use and what the consequences of selling to minors. Then I would say “I am going to send a kid into your store to try to buy alcohol or tobacco. The police will be with me and if you sell, you will get a ticket and lose your drivers license.” I repeated this several times, speaking of previous buys in the area and stressing the consequences if they sold to any kids. I had very few nights that someone didn’t sell to my kids. One sold alcohol to a 13 year old. Now, some people felt these buys were entrapment and should not be allowed to happen. My answers were: I used kids who were 17 & under to buy alcohol (legal age to buy is 21), I had parental permission, I would go to the store and tell the cashiers I was coming within 2 weeks, I used kids who had not been in trouble and were extremely good students, the kids received a gift certificate just for going out with me whether they made any buys or not and they understood that our goal was not to make any buys. Some of the cashiers would come outside and wave at me after not selling to the kid (I always wondered about the times they didn’t sell and thought it was my kids but didn’t find me in the parking lot). They wanted their gold star pin – an incentive program I started where each time they didn’t sell the got a gold star pin with a note thanking them for not selling and then the cashier with the most pins in the county got a gift certificate.

The other major part of the job was a TV show for teens to discuss concerns – health, social, whatever. It had been on for YEARS and seemed to be done. My boss said that we needed to do something new and said what about a game show? We did, it was great! I loosely used the format for family feud and asked sixth graders questions related to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. They had buzzers, lights, etc. I went into the community and asked for donations and received so much that the first year prizes were great! Backpacks, walkmans, t-shirts and the season’s winning team (3 students) each got game systems. I changed jobs just before the show filmed, but went and watched the filming. It was great!!

I think that job fed my ADD as there were so many different things to do, I loved it. I stood beside the road with the police for D.U.I checks and passed out prevention materials, I wrote grants for whatever projects I could think of, and my boss was wonderful – so supportive. Then, I got my masters and felt I should move into something more in my field and went to vocational counseling. That was not my best move, but hindsight is 20/20!! But, that’s a blog for another day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Today's entry is written for a contest on a cool blog I found - Scribbit.blogspot.com. The contest is September's Write-Away. http://scribbit.blogspot.com/2007/09/septembers-write-away-contest.html

Learning has definitely been a life-long experience for me. Completing my Bachelor’s degree took approximately 15 years, as I would attend school for a semester, then drop out and get a second job to pay for another semester. I’ve always considered financing a college education an experience in itself. The Masters degree went much faster, one 2.5 years, still working full-time, but only 1 job. During this 17.5 years, I also raised a wonderful son and got married – both were definitely learning experiences!

My son was 11 years old when I got married, so up to that time, I worked where ever I could to make ends meet – bartending, waiting tables, typing school papers, receptionist, public intoxication observer, laborer in a cement block plant, credit services skip tracer, and an investigator. You can imagine what my resume looks like! Trust me, I’ve heard all about job hopping and how bad it looks, but I have learned more from the people (employees and customers) than I’ve ever learned in my long formal education. We can learn something from everyone we meet – from CEO to convict, singer to secretary, president to policeman. Everyone has had different experiences, or perspectives of those experiences and in order to fully appreciate learning you must open your mind. Learn something new every day – I certainly do.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Much later . . .

Ok, that job lasted one year, never got much more work than the first day. I enjoyed the job, if only there were more clients. On to bigger & better things - I have moved to Virginia and am working as a therapist. With children, what a thought! I would have laughed at someone who said I would end up working with children, even a year ago. It's really interesting, I've been here since January 07 & learned so much!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

First day of new job

Well, it's my first day and I have no work! I'm sure this will change, but I am a little worried at this point. Worked on crafts today, washed clothes and got phones settled (work). Oh well, maybe tomorrow.